Nova Scotia

HMCS Sackville not liable for Larinda sinking

A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge has found that the owners of the HMCS Sackville were not at fault when it broke its lines and rammed the tall ship Larinda during the height of Hurricane Juan nearly eight years ago.

A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge has found that the owners of HMCS Sackville were not at fault when it broke its lines and rammed the tall ship Larinda during the height of Hurricane Juan nearly eight years ago.

The family that owned the Larinda had sued the non-profit Canadian Naval Memorial Trust, which looks after HMCS Sackville, for nearly $1 million.

In September 2003, the threat of Hurricane Juan forced the Larinda into Halifax harbour, where she berthed beside the Sackville, one of more than 120 corvettes built in Canada during the Second World War.

The two ships were tethered when the mooring lines of the Corvette snapped in sustained winds of around 90 knots. The Sackville rammed the Larinda, which sank to the bottom of the harbour and filled with raw sewage.

Larinda, a replica of a 1767 U.S. schooner, took Americans Larry Mahan and his wife, Linda, 30 years to build.

Larry Mahan, 63, took his own life in the summer of 2005. He was depressed following the loss of his boat and a car accident in which a cyclist was killed.

In his decision, Judge Glen MacDougall said this case could not be decided out of sympathy, and he found the Trust took all necessary and appropriate precautions to secure the Sackville. 

The court ruling comes as a relief to retired Lt.-Cmdr. James Reddy, a  member of the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust.

"It was the most wind anyone had seen in Halifax in 100 years," he said Thursday.

"There's some vindication for us in that we did take the proper measures in preparation for the arrival of the hurricane and that essentially we were not shown to be negligent."

The Larinda was insured for $250,000, which the family received. After two weeks at the bottom of the harbour, the wooden ship was raised, repaired and sold. She continues to sail off the South Shore of Nova Scotia.