Nova Scotia

Removing rusting derelict ship from LaHave River to cost taxpayers $1.8M

The former navy ship HMCS Cormorant was decommissioned in 1997 and has changed hands several times since.

HMCS Cormorant was decommissioned by the navy in 1997 and has changed hands several times since

The ship, seen in this file photo, is docked in the LaHave River. The HMCS Cormorant was decommissioned by the Canadian navy in 1997 and has been moored in Bridgewater since 2000. (CBC)

It will cost taxpayers $1.8 million to remove a derelict former navy vessel from a jetty on the LaHave River in Bridgewater, N.S.

On Thursday, RJ MacIsaac Construction of Antigonish was awarded the federal government tender to dispose of the rusted hulk that was once the HMCS Cormorant.

The abandoned navy dive support ship has been tied up in Bridgewater for 20 years and has changed hands several times after it was decommissioned by the Canadian Navy in 1997.

The Cormorant partially sank in 2015 and and was designated as an imminent pollution threat after a ship inspection last year.

Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan represents Bridgewater in Parliament and has promised action.

"This issue of abandoned and derelict vessels is a passion of mine, and the Cormorant vessel has been a personal priority for me both as a community member and a Member of Parliament for years," Jordan said in a statement to CBC News. 

"Our ports are not dumping grounds — they are hubs for community and industry."

The former HMCS Cormorant, pictured in 2015 when it partially sank while docked in Bridgewater. (Molly Segal / CBC)

The 57-year-old vessel contains 6,500 litres of oil and 8,500 litres of oil-contaminated water in machinery spaces, bilges and other compartments.

Tanks contain another 116,000 litres of water of unknown quality and is assumed to be oil-contaminated until proven otherwise.

A risk assessment prepared for the Canadian Coast Guard in 2019 deemed the Cormorant a "grave and immediate threat of pollution."

The estimated the budget for removing pollutants, towing within Nova Scotia and demolition was pegged at $1.9 to $2.6 million.

According to the tender document, the process of pumping out contaminants will start this fall.

The vessel is to be towed, dismantled and recycled in nine months.

This is just the latest disposal for RJ MacIsaac. In 2017 the company removed the abandoned anti-sealing vessel Farley Mowat from Shelburne's harbour.

It has also disposed of three former navy vessels at the Port Mersey commercial park in Brooklyn, N.S.

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