Wainwright Marine Services operate seven tugs and ten barges from Prince Rupert. (Photo: Wainwright Marine Services Ltd./Facebook)
Two mariners drowned and one was rescued after a tugboat capsized early last Thursday morning in the Gardner Canal, 35 nautical miles south of Kitimat, northern British Columbia. Very windy conditions reportedly caused the incident.
Owned by Wainright Marine Services in Prince Rupert, the tugboat was towing a barge transporting cargo and supplies destined for a tunnel-drilling project being carried out in the region by Rio Tinto at a hydroelectric facility, according to the Terrance Standard newspaper.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said that at 12.40 a.m. Thursday after receiving an emergency beacon signal, the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) tasked an RCMP West Coast Marine Vessel, stationed in Hartley Bay, to attend the scene, where the first deceased mariner was found. The Canadian Coast Guard also helped in the search and rescue operation and located the second deceased mariner.
The JRCC dispatched a CC-115 Buffalo fixed-wing aircraft and a CH-149 Cormorant helicopter from the Canadian Forces Base Comox, but poor weather hampered their search efforts. However, a private helicopter spotted one male survivor on the shore who was soon transported to the local hospital.
In a statement, the RCMP indicated that the Transportation Safety Board, the British Columbia Coroners Service, and Work Safe BC were all following up with an investigation.
Maritime Magazine staff wish to offer their condolences to the families and friends of the deceased mariners. It is always sad to learn of mariners losing they lives while exercising their work, for many of whom it’s a passion. Such tragedies must serve as a further motivation to improve the safety of all people working on the water.