Friday, April 11, 2008
A Canadian navy frigate was sent on Thursday to help a Panama-flagged merchant ship that reported an engine fire off the coast of Massachusetts. HMCS Toronto arrived on Thursday afternoon at the 176-metre Sea Venus, which was en route from Rhode Island to Belgium when a fire broke out in the engine room. The fire had knocked out all power on the Sea Venus's board and was still burning, but had died down since it was first detected in the morning, Cmdr. Alex Grant of HMCS Toronto said. The HMCS Toronto's crew was assessing the health of Sea Venus crew members, damage caused by the fire and trying to restore the vessel's firefighting capabilities.
HMCS Toronto (FFH 333)"I don't see any immediate danger to the vessel," Grant said in an interview from the Toronto. "My away team … has not raised any alarms. They are slowly and deliberately assessing the situation. But the vessel is not in danger of sinking at this time." The Sea Venus, a car-carrying vessel with a crew of 23, issued a satellite distress signal around 7:30 a.m. ET and a rescue centre in Halifax established communication with their crew. The Toronto, with a crew of 200, was conducting a fisheries patrol when it was diverted to the disabled ship, which was about 1,900 kilometres east of Cape Cod, Mass. Sea VenusThree other merchant ships were also on scene and were arranging for a tug to take the ship into port. Initially, the Sea Venus reported that the fire had been extinguished but in a subsequent distress call reported the fire had reignited. Also earlier on, the vessel reported that at least one crew member had been injured. "There was an injury, but we're not sure of how extensive it was because we haven't been able to have communication with them," said Lorraine Brooks, a coast guard in Portsmouth. The U.S. Coast Guard, which was co-ordinating the rescue, said there were no immediate plans to abandon ship. Visibility and winds were good, with waves up to three metres, said Lt. Marie-Claude Gagne of the Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax.