Boat owned by company involved in deadly capsizing partially sinks
A whale-watching vessel owned by the same Tofino, B.C. company whose boat capsized and killed six people nearly one year ago ran aground off the coast of Vancouver Island Saturday evening.
The Canadian Coast Guard says the vessel the Stellar Sea, which is operated by Jamie’s Whaling Station and Adventure Centres, struck bottom and partially sank at 5:30 p.m. The accident occurred near Warn Bay in waters east of Tofino.
All passengers escaped from the vessel unharmed. The Transportation Safety Board says 26 passengers and two crew members were onboard at the time.
The TSB added that given the company’s past history an investigation is underway.
“It does concern us - that's why we are following up on the occurrence and gathering information and at this point… we will look into all aspects of the company’s operations,” said Mohan Raman, regional manager for the TSB in Richmond, B.C.
Coast Guard crew members have put a boom up around the vessel and plugged fuel vents, and say no pollution has been reported.
“The vessel owners are making plans to salvage the vessel and have hired a contractor for that purpose,” said the Coast Guard in a statement to CTV News.
“CCG is monitoring the situation with crews based in the community, and is deploying two additional response specialists to the operation today.”
By Sunday evening the boat was still stuck on the rocks. The Coast Guard will tow it to shore once it has repaired some of the damage, which includes a hole in the front of the vessel and an engine room flooded with water.
A statement released by Jamie’s Whaling Station confirmed the accident, but refuted the Coast Guard’s claim the boat partially sunk.
“The vessel was grounded and unable to move, but the vessel was not in danger of sinking,” read the statement, noting that the company will use other boats while the Stellar Sea is being repaired.
The Stellar Sea is a 40-foot-long partially covered vessel that holds up to 40 passengers.
The vessel is typically used for bear watching, and private inlet charters, according to Jamie’s Whaling Station’s website.
Another vessel operated by the same company sank in a similar area last year.
One Australian and five Britons died after the Leviathan II overturned with 24 passengers and three crew on board in Oct. 2015. The craft had a 46-person capacity.
The tragedy was not the first for Jamie’s Whaling Station: In March 1998, four people were on board an inflatable boat for a three-hour whale watching tour when they were thrown overboard in rough seas.
A 27-year-old German tourist and the 25-year-old captain drowned, and two women were rescued about two hours after the accident.