Nova Scotia

Coast guard vessel to help with search for missing scallop dragger

The Canadian Coast Guard has deployed a vessel with a platform to help with the search for a scallop dragger that went missing two weeks ago.

Coast guard ship should arrive in Digby by Friday

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)

The Canadian Coast Guard has deployed a vessel with an on-water platform to help search the Bay of Fundy for a scallop dragger that went missing two weeks ago.

The coast guard vessel left Dartmouth on Wednesday and should arrive in Digby, N.S., by Friday, according to a release from the Nova Scotia RCMP.

From there, the RCMP's underwater recovery team will be able to perform sonar exploration in the area in search of the Chief William Saulis.

In a statement from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, it says the CCGS Cape Light is the preferred vessel by the RCMP, "given its configuration and working deck area."

The Cape Light is expected to provide support over the next few days, weather permitting. If it is unable to complete the work required, the CCGS M. Perley may also sail from Dartmouth on Saturday, when weather conditions are expected to improve.

Debris not definitively from the Chief William Saulis

The fishing vessel with six men on board sent out an emergency beacon near Delaps Cove, N.S., in the early morning of Dec. 15.

On Tuesday, police said they may have found debris from the ship, but could not say with certainty whether it came from the Chief William Saulis.

Sgt. Andrew Joyce, spokesperson for the Nova Scotia RCMP, told CBC's Maritime Noon on Wednesday that searchers found what could be pieces of the upper part of the vessel.

"We suspect that it could be based on what we located, like the size of the pieces we've recovered, the age of it, that kind of thing. So we believe it to be consistent with the vessel, but at this time it hasn't been definitively from the lost vessel," he said.

Searchers scour through the rocky shoreline in Steves Cove where debris washed up on Dec. 15. Meanwhile, a fishing boat continues the search at sea in the distance. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

RCMP officers are working with the Department of Lands and Forestry to continue searching the coastline by helicopter. No helicopter was available on Tuesday.

The search resumed from the air on Wednesday, from Digby Gut to Harbourville.

That search did not locate the missing fishermen or any debris from the vessel, according to a news release from RCMP on Thursday.

The aerial search is once again on hold on Thursday due to poor weather conditions.

Joyce said the ground search remains suspended because of treacherous conditions along the coastline, including ice on the shore, which makes it "too risky to the safety of all involved."

The body of one crew member, Michael Drake, was recovered the night after the vessel went missing.

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

Grief, false information a challenge in Yarmouth

For 36 hours after the vessel sank, crews worked around the clock searching the air, sea and land for any clues from the vessel, as families and community members waited for news.

Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood said it has been a challenging time for her community. Several of the crew members lived there.

She said on top of the grief is the spreading of false information about the search.

Mood said people have even gone so far as to phone family members directly.

"It's horrific....You're causing deeper damage to the families, it hurts to the core. It's just making it worse," Mood told CBC's Maritime Noon. 

"Stay the heck off of social media unless you've got facts."

Pictured here, the Chief William Saulis scallop fishing vessel in November 2020. (Katherine Bickford)

Police are also working with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada to inspect the debris that has been found.

A spokesperson for TSB said they will resume examining the debris on Monday.

Joyce said the main objective now is to pinpoint the Chief William Saulis.

"Our goal of course is to bring the five missing home if they are at rest with the vessel," he said.

With files from CBC's Maritime Noon