Canadian tour company has another accident; all safely evacuated

A tour boat owned by Jamie’s Whaling Station — the same company that had another vessel overturn in 2015 with the death of six passengers — struck bottom off Vancouver Island in October with the successful evacuation of all on board.

In the Oct. 1 incident, the 40-foot Stellar Sea was returning from an afternoon bear-watching tour near Tofino, British Columbia, when it ran aground, according to Capt. Ramanbir Mangat, investigator in charge for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB).

“They had 26 passengers on board watching bears,” Mangat said. “There were no fatalities, everybody was rescued.” No injuries were reported.

With the investigation in its early stages, Mangat said he could not elaborate further.

In the Oct. 25, 2015, incident, the 65-foot Leviathan II, with three crewmembers and 24 passengers aboard, rolled over during a sea lion tour. Six passengers drowned. TSB information indicates that at the time of the incident most of the passengers and crew were on the top deck on the port side. A wave approached the vessel from the starboard quarter, causing the vessel to broach and then capsize.

In the Stellar Sea grounding, Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) records indicate that the initial call was received by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria at 2240 local time. CCG was advised that the boat had struck bottom in Warn Bay and had partially sunk. All passengers aboard were safely transferred to other company vessels.

A crew from CCG Station Tofino was deployed to boom the vessel and plug fuel vents. On Oct. 2, CCG vessels and others in the area assisted with dewatering Stellar Sea and refloated it. There were no reports or sightings of pollution. The vessel owner made plans to salvage the vessel and hired a contractor for that purpose.

CCG continued to monitor the situation with crews based in the community and deployed two additional response specialists to support operations.

In the early morning of Oct. 3, the CCG accompanied Stellar Sea as it was towed toward Tofino by two tugs, Beamsville and Shearwater. The tugs then continued with Stellar Sea to Ucluelet for repair.

Repeated attempts by Professional Mariner to contact Jamie’s Whaling Station for comment were unsuccessful.

By Professional Mariner Staff