Nova Scotia

RCMP to use underwater vehicle in search for Chief William Saulis vessel

A remotely operated underwater vehicle equipped with new sonar technology is being used to help search for a scallop fishing vessel that sank last month in the Bay of Fundy.

Recovery team to be in the water Tuesday afternoon when tides are optimal

The six men who were 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)

A remotely operated underwater vehicle equipped with new sonar technology is being used to help search for a scallop fishing vessel that sank last month in the Bay of Fundy.

In a release sent out on Tuesday, the Nova Scotia RCMP said the underwater vehicle is equipped with multi-beam sonar technology and will help crews search for the Chief William Saulis.

Police said weather in the area is expected to be favourable and the underwater recovery team will be in the water on Tuesday afternoon when tidal conditions are optimal.

The Chief William Saulis fishing vessel sent out an emergency beacon in the early hours of Dec. 15, just off the coast of Delaps Cove, N.S.

Six men were on board the boat when it sank. The body of one crew member, Michael Drake, was recovered on the same evening the ship went down.

The Chief William Saulis scallop fishing vessel is pictured in November 2020. (Katherine Bickford)

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

For 36 hours, crews scoured the shorelines, took to the water and searched from the air for signs of the missing ship.

Since then, ground search teams have been suspended due to dangerous weather conditions. Aerial searches using aircrafts from CFB Greenwood and a helicopter from the Department of Lands and Forestry have taken place as weather permits.

The Canadian Coast Guard sent a vessel equipped with a platform to assist in the recovery effort late last month.

Police said previously they may have found debris from the ship, but could not say for certain that it came from the Chief William Saulis.

Weather conditions to be assessed daily

The new underwater vehicle has come from the British Columbia RCMP.

This comes a week after Kraken Robotics, an ocean technology company in Atlantic Canada, spoke out about its disappointment that authorities turned down its offer to search for the scallop dragger.

The search has been delayed or suspended numerous times due to poor weather. Police said the weather and water conditions will continue to be assessed each day.

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