Malaspina Crew Helps In Canada Rescue Effort

The crew of the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry Malaspina participated in a weekend rescue effort in Canadian waters.

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Alaska Department of Transportation Spokesman Jeremy Woodrow said the distress call came in at around 1:30 a.m. Saturday off Campbell River, British Columbia. The Atlantic Harvester 1 was reportedly taking on water at the time of the call.

“When the ferry arrived on scene, no vessel could be located,” he said. “The ferry deployed its fast rescue boat and was able to rescue one crew member from the water. They did search for other crew members, with no success. Shortly after that time, the Canadian Coast Guard arrived on scene.”

Woodrow says the Canadian Coast Guard took charge of the rescued crew member, and took over rescue efforts at that time.

Lt. Greg Menzies, a public affairs officer in the Royal Canadian Navy in Victoria, BC, said Monday afternoon that the other two crewmembers remain missing. He says it’s unclear at this point what happened to the Atlantic Harvester, a 67-foot landing-craft vessel. Menzies says it sank in about four minutes.

Campbell River Royal Canadian Mounted Police Spokeswoman Poppy Hallam says all three Atlantic Harvester crew members are Campbell River residents. She says the sunken vessel has been located, and a dive team search is planned for Tuesday.

Woodrow says the Alaska Marine Highway System helps boaters in distress about twice a year on average. He says this is the first he’s heard of a ferry responding to a vessel in distress in Canadian waters.

Woodrow says ferry crews are trained for rescue response.

“That’s one reason we have these fast rescue boats on board is to provide rescue operations to other vessels and to the ship itself,” he said.

The Malaspina had been on its way from Bellingham, Wash., to Ketchikan. The rescue effort delayed its arrival by a few hours, but the ship has since made up the time and is back on schedule.