British Columbia

Double tug boat crash near Nanaimo leaves vessel underwater

The Transportation Safety Board is investigating a collision between two tug boats that caused one vessel to sink near Gabriola Island, off the east coast of Vancouver Island.

Nanaimo Port Authority says the vessel that sank had up to 800 litres of fuel on board

The C.T. Titan, pictured above, struck and sank a smaller tug boat off the coast of Vancouver Island on Tuesday evening. (Katherine Bickford)

The Transportation Safety Board is investigating a collision between two tug boats that caused one vessel to sink near Gabriola Island, off the east coast of Vancouver Island.

The safety board's Pacific operations regional manager Mohan Raman says two crew members of the Albern were thrown into the water and rescued after their tug was hit by the C.T. Titan about 6 p.m. Tuesday.

He says the larger ship overpowered the smaller boat, which sank about 90 metres to the bottom of the Northumberland Channel between Gabriola and Vancouver Island.

Raman says the crew members weren't hurt and he will conduct interviews next week to determine what caused the collision.

He says both tugs, which have the same owner, were returning to base for crew changes, and weather doesn't appear to be a factor.

The TSB will assess the crash and examine whether there were any safety deficiencies, but will not assign fault or determine liability.

Two tug boats crashed off the east coast of Vancouver Island, near Gabriola Island. (Google Maps)

The Nanaimo Port Authority is helping to monitor the environmental impact — it says the vessel that sank had up to 800 litres of fuel on board.

Port spokesperson David Mailloux said the next step will be to figure out how to raise the sunken vessel.

"A lot of logistics go into that," he said. "Weather can play a major factor, and when is the safest time to do that."

The Coast Guard says the company is responsible for recovering the boat and must file a salvage plan with Transport Canada.

With files from Megan Thomas 

now