A former fishing vessel launched in the 1940s remained “semi-submerged” in Sidney’s Roberts Bay Wednesday morning, drawing curious onlookers but also questions about any environmental damage.
Cpl. Andres Sanchez said Wednesday morning nobody was on the vessel when it left its nearby moorings. Police could not give any additional information about the vessel’s initial location. Sanchez added that it is not clear why the vessel left its moorings or why it was starting to sink. Police are not considering any criminal charges, he said. He said earlier that the local owner is fully cooperating with authorities.
A statement released by the Canadian Coast Guard Wednesday morning said that authorities were working with the owner to remove the vessel from the water as soon as conditions permit.
“Coast Guard does not normally release the name of privately owned vessels or owners during an incident,” it reads. “We are unaware of why the vessel sank.”
The statement also addressed questions about potential environmental damages to the bay, a bird sanctuary.
“The owner has stated that there (are) 100L of diesel on board the ex-fishing vessel,” it reads. “An initial assessment by Coast Guard noted non-recoverable diesel sheen on the water around the vessel and near the shoreline. After deploying a containment boom, the sheen was contained inside the boom. The sheen is expected to evaporate or disperse naturally over the next day or so, and the containment boom will reduce any potential impacts to the shoreline.”
As Wednesday dawned over the bay after heavy winds had battered the area Tuesday evening, the vessel appeared to lie deeper in the calm waters of the bay than Tuesday afternoon but also tied up to the shore. Nearby residents out on their morning walk were taking pictures of the new arrival in the bay. Others snapped pictures from inside their vehicle.
The Coast Guard received reports of the vessel at around 7:35 a.m. Tuesday. “A crew from the Ganges Coast Guard Station responded and reported a non-recoverable sheen on the water and near to shore,” it reads.
Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brett Mikkelsen said Tuesday morning that his department first heard about the vessel at about 8:35 a.m. Tuesday through a call to the community safety building from a concerned resident. Mikkelsen said firefighters attended the site immediately.
“RCMP were already on site and had initiated response from the Canadian Coast Guard and the B.C. Ministry of Environment,” he said.
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