Nova Scotia

RCMP to use sonar in effort to locate missing Nova Scotia fishermen

An underwater recovery team with Nova Scotia RCMP is planning to explore parts of the Bay of Fundy using sonar. Five fishermen and their fishing vessel went missing last week.

Scallop dragger, 5 crew members have been missing for week

The six men known to have been on board the Chief William Saulis. Top row, from left: Captain Charles Roberts, Aaron Cogswell, Dan Forbes. Bottom row, from left: Eugene Francis, Michael Drake and Leonard Gabriel. (Facebook/CBC)

An underwater recovery team with Nova Scotia RCMP plans to use sonar to explore parts of the Bay of Fundy where a fishing boat and its crew disappeared last week.

The Chief William Saulis, a scallop dragger that was based out of Yarmouth, N.S., was last heard from early on the morning of Dec. 15 when it was heading toward Digby after a week-long fishing expedition. 

In a news release Tuesday, RCMP said the underwater recovery team left port in Digby in the morning but soon encountered poor conditions, including swells over three metres, and turned back. The team plans to try again when safe to do so.

RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Andrew Joyce said the goal is to locate the vessel.

An aerial search was also planned for Tuesday but was cancelled because of a low ceiling.

Searchers scoured through the rocky shoreline in Steves Cove where debris washed up the day the boat went missing. Ground searching was called off ahead of last week's snowstorm and has not resumed. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

A variety of search efforts have been made, off and on, since the Chief William Saulis sent out its emergency beacon near Delaps Cove shortly before 6 a.m. on Dec. 15. Two life-rafts washed ashore, empty, later that morning.

By nightfall, search-and-rescue crews had announced they'd found the body of one crew member, Newfoundland's Michael Drake.

The other five members of the crew — Aaron Cogswell, Leonard Gabriel, Dan Forbes, Eugene Francis and Charles Roberts, the captain of the vessel — have not been found.

The Chief William Saulis is shown in November. (Katherine Bickford)

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada says the boat sank, although the cause remains unclear. After a 36-hour search and rescue mission by the Maritime Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre, RCMP took over the case as a recovery mission and missing persons investigation.

The police force searched by helicopter over the weekend and didn't recover anything. With no helicopter available Monday, the search was paused.


Taryn Grant


Taryn Grant is a Halifax-based reporter and web writer for CBC Nova Scotia. You can email her with tips and feedback at