Nova Scotia·Updated

Storm damages ship grounded at Scaterie

A ship that has been stuck off Cape Breton for two weeks was damaged by Thursday's storm.

A ship that's been stuck on rocks near eastern Cape Breton for two weeks was damaged by Thursday's storm.

The 230-metre MV Canadian Miner was on its way to Turkey to be scrapped when heavy seas caused the towlines to break Sept. 20. It was not carrying cargo and no one was on board. The ship ran aground near Scaterie Island.

Keith Laidlaw of the Canadian Coast Guard said crews flew over the ship at 11:30 a.m. Thursday and saw a 15-metre wide hole on the stern and a hole on the side near a cargo hatch. That will make floating it difficult, he said.

"It has actually blown the cargo hatch off the vessel," he said. "It means the ship is sustaining some damage. How severe it is, we can't speculate right now."

He said the ship is not at risk of sinking.

'It looks nasty out there'

The Coast Guard's environmental response branch is keeping an eye on the ship through binoculars from Main a Dieu.

"It looks nasty out there. The seas are actually breaking over the top of the ship, the deck is completely awash — probably about 40-foot waves," Laidlaw said.

"The good news is the ship is in one piece. There has been no structural damage that we can see."

The owner is talking to a Dutch salvage company about removing the remaining oil and floating the vessel, Laidlaw said.

Several attempts to remove the MV Miner have failed, but Mammoet Salvaging were able to remove 6,000 litres of engine oil and diesel before the storm hit.

Laidlaw expects the salvage team to return to the ship Friday. It would take ten days to do the work, he said.  

"We hope to have the salvage company back out there to remove the remaining 3,000 litres of product. Then there is no longer a threat from pollution," he said.  

Dexter ready to step in

The province said Thursday it may step in to help move the carrier.  Premier Darrell Dexter said he was open to talking with a different company about removing the vessel if the Dutch firm is not able to do it.

"What we want people in Cape Breton to know, what we want the fishermen there to know, is that their government is paying attention to what is going on in this matter. And we are acting as expeditiously as possible to make sure it's resolved," Dexter said.  

"I'm not ruling out anything, including taking on the job if necessary."  

The premier said he is confident the Coast Guard is safely monitoring the situation.