Lost shipping containers trigger warning for Vancouver Island mariners
Hanjin Seattle hit rough seas near the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca
Dozens of empty containers that fell off a cargo ship near the south end of Vancouver Island could pose a hazard to boats and shipping traffic, coast guard officials are warning.
On Nov. 3, the freighter Hanjin Seattle hit rough seas near the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and 35 empty shipping containers were lost over the side.
The next day, the Canadian Coast Guard warned mariners to be on the lookout for container debris around the south end of Vancouver Island after some debris was reported near Vargas Island just north of Tofino.
Some of the 10-metre long metal boxes likely sank, but others could still be floating in the waters off Vancouver Island, according to senior marine inspector Marc McElney with the U.S. Coast Guard.
"It's hard to say how long before all of the containers sink," he said. "If the weather becomes bad or the seas become rougher, that could flood the containers more quickly.
"They may not be visible, or they could be just under the surface, which would cause damage to a vessel if they were to collide."
The Korean shipping company Hanjin filed for bankruptcy in September, and many of its vessels have spent the past two months at anchor in ports around the world waiting for instructions on where to dock.
With files from Megan Thomas