Nfld. & Labrador

Mystery distress call diverts Bell Island ferry

A Bell Island ferry was diverted Monday night because of a possible distress call.

Critics say the coast guard should have reacted more quickly

 A Bell Island ferry was diverted Monday night because of a possible distress call.

The coast guard received a report that flares were set off after 7 p.m. near Conception Bay South.

Rescue centre officials tasked the Beaumont Hamel with carrying out a search in the area. It delayed docking for several hours while it searched the bay.

A coast guard ship, the Cape Roger, eventually took over the search about three hours later. It had to travel more than 50 kilometres from St. John's.

That led to some complaints that the coast guard vessel wasn't dispatched to the area quickly enough.

"You have to realize the area we cover is big and we don't know where incidents are going to occur. So transit time is part of the response," said Kevin Barnes of the Canadian Coast Guard search and rescue sub-centre in St. John's.

There was no confirmed emergency.

Barnes said it is believed that flares were set off on Bell Island.