Rescue workers scoop crew from tanker stranded off Cape Breton

A tanker has run aground off Little Pond, N.S., after experiencing engine failure and rescue crews are now removing six people from the stranded ship.

Coast Guard now circling area looking for signs of pollution as effort shifts to ship recovery

The six crew members who were on board the ship were taken to Sydney, N.S. Submitted by Darren Boutilier. 0:48

A tanker has run aground off Little Pond, N.S., after experiencing engine failure and rescue crews have successfully removed six people from the stranded ship.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans said the vessel's crew is safe and no pollution from Arca 1 has been reported.

Anne Miller, a regional director with the Canadian Coast Guard's Atlantic Region, said the bunkering tanker was heading to Sydney. A bunkering tanker carries fuel for other ships.

"The vessel's hull has not been compromised, and there's no report of pollution. There is approximately 15 tonnes of propulsion fuel on board," she said.

The coast guard says there's no information to suggest weather played a part in the ship's engine failure, but that the storm helped push the vessel closer to the shore.

The six crew members who were on board the ship are now in Sydney, N.S., about 32 kilometres south of Little Pond.

Tanker Arca 1 aerial view. (Canadian Coast Guard)

Sandra Gear, who lives nearby, said someone from the helicopter was being lowered down onto the ship shortly before 2 p.m. local time.

Once the crew was off the vessel, Miller said the ship will transfer over to the coast guard's environmental response group, which will try to "mitigate any risk of pollution to the environment."

A coast guard aircraft was circling the area Sunday. Miller said it was monitoring and observing any potential pollution from the ship.

Members of local fire departments and people who live nearby gathered along the shoreline Sunday morning. (Submitted by Rose Fricker Bonnar)

Mayday call received

Capt. Liam Mather, the public affairs officer with the Joint Rescue Coordinator Centre in Halifax, said the centre received a mayday distress call Sunday morning.

The ship "experienced engine failure and went aground near the entrance to Sydney Harbour at approximately 10 a.m.," Mather said.

The coordination centre sent a cormorant helicopter from 14-Wing Greenwood to help, along with Canadian Coast Guard ships Spindrift and Earl Grey, which are travelling to the area, he said. 

The vessel was refloated and towed by tug to Sydney harbour. (Submitted by Rose Fricker Bonnar)

'Boat in under the cliff'

People in the area said the vessel came close to shore some time through the night.

Terry Tremblett, who lives along the nearby shoreline, saw the ship's spars through the window of his home Saturday night around 2 or 3 a.m.

"I just happened to get up to go to the washroom and I looked out and I see a boat out. And I know he was in closer than they normally are, but I just figured that's the way he's going," said Tremblett.

"When my phone rang this morning, my neighbour told me there was a boat in under the cliff."

Six people were on board the vessel when the engine failed. (Submitted by Rose Fricker Bonnar/Facebook)

​According to MaritimeTraffic.com, the Arca 1 was built in 1963 and it flies under the Panamanian flag. 

In the hours before the ship became stranded, high winds and snow pelted Nova Scotia's coastline. (Submitted by Trevor Ferneyhough)
Rescue crews lower someone onto a tanker off Sydney Mines, N.S. (Rose Fricker Bonnar) 4:19

About the Author

Anjuli Patil

Reporter

Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.

With files from Blair Sanderson and Elizabeth McMillan