Nova Scotia

Rescue crews respond to fishing vessel after onboard fire off Nova Scotia coast

Emergency crews are evacuating crew members from a fishing vessel that twice caught fire and was taking on water off the Nova Scotia coast Tuesday night.

The vessel lost power after a fire and was adrift south of Yarmouth, N.S., in heavy seas

The Atlantic Destiny is based in Riverport, N.S., and is part of the fleet owned by Ocean Choice International of Newfoundland and Labrador. (Transportation Safety Board)

Emergency crews were evacuating crew members from a fishing vessel that twice caught fire and was taking on water off the Nova Scotia coast Tuesday night.

A CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue helicopter has removed six of the 32 crew members from the Atlantic Destiny, according to Lt.-Cmdr. Brian Owens, a spokesperson for the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre (JRCC), a federal government search and rescue organization.

The ship has lost power and is adrift about 222 kilometres south of Yarmouth, N.S., in heavy seas. There were no reports of injuries.

All fires are out, but the ship is still taking on water, Owens said. A small crew will remain aboard the vessel "to control the water coming into the vessel," the JRCC said.

"They have restored generator power, so the pumps are working," Owens said.

The master of the Atlantic Destiny called the JRCC to report the fire at 8 p.m. AT.

Experienced crew

The Atlantic Destiny is based in Riverport, N.S., and is part of the fleet owned by Ocean Choice International of Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Company CEO Martin Sullivan said it's unclear how many people will have to stay onboard the vessel, but estimated it will be between six and 10. Sullivan said the crew and captain have lots of experience.

"It's a tough situation, but we have great people that can stand up to it," he said.

A CC-130 Hercules aircraft from Canadian Forces Base Greenwood, a fisheries patrol vessel and two U.S. Coast Guard helicopters were responding.

JRCC said all crew evacuated from the ship will be flown to Yarmouth, N.S. The first six crew members were being flown aboard the CH-149 Cormorant, Owens said.

Additional crew members will be transported in the U.S. helicopters, Sullivan said.

Another fishing vessel, the Lahave, is near the Atlantic Destiny and is standing by to assist.

High seas and strong winds

Owens said the Atlantic Destiny was adrift in eight-metre seas and winds of 55 knots. "The weather is quite adverse," he said.

It's unclear what caused the fire. Sullivan said the company is focused on the safety of the crew and have been providing updates to family members throughout the evening.

"The rest we can deal with later," he said.

In March 2017, the Atlantic Destiny suffered a catastrophic engine failure that caused the ship to lose power.

A year later, a Transportation Safety Board report blamed the failure on a combination of maintenance gaps, a broken emergency stop mechanism and the actions of an inexperienced crew member.

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with files from The Canadian Press

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