Cormorant (2015)

LOCATION: LaHave River, Bridgewater, Nova Scotia

Case number: 120-672-C1

The Incident
On March 18, 2015, the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) was notified that the Cormorant, a former diving support ship in the Royal Canadian Navy that had been decommissioned and sold in 1997, was listing heavily at the dock in LaHave River, Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, and leaking oil. CCG provided the vessel owner with a Notice of Intent informing him of his responsibilities under the Marine Liability Act and a Direction Order to develop a salvage plan to refloat the vessel. The owner engaged a salvage company. CCG assumed the role of Federal Monitoring Officer. The local fire department assisted by using water pressure to blast the snow and ice off the partially sunken vessel, and a containment boom was deployed around the wreck.

On May 5, CCG took over the role of On-Scene Commander after having been informed by the salvage company representatives that the salvage operations would not be continued until the issue relating to the ownership of the vessel was settled. RMI Marine Limited (RMI) was engaged to take care of the salvage operations. With the help of divers, RMI removed 5,850 litres of waste oil from the engine-room bilge and 350 litres of hydraulic oil from several tanks.

On May 27, the Cormorant was refloated, and all the absorbent pads and containment boom were recovered.

Measures taken by the Administrator
When CCG took over the role of On-Scene Commander on May 5, 2015, the Administrator engaged a marine technical surveyor to attend the site and observe the measures being taken. The surveyor made visits to the site and reported on the progress of the salvage operations.

The Claim
On November 2, 2015, CCG on behalf of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO/CCG) filed a claim with the Administrator for costs and expenses incurred in the amount of $549,581.18, pursuant to the Marine Liability Act.

The Administrator determined that the claim was admissible under Part 7 of the Act.

No potential claimant is in sight since the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), which rescued the vessel, got paid from the shipowner for the amount it asked for. CCG also confirmed that it would not file any claim for any further amounts.

Assessment and Offer
Additional supporting information was requested for assessment purposes. After investigation and assessment of the claim, the daily rates claimed for some of the equipment were reduced to the rates specified in CCG document “EKME 3315540” Edition 1 that had been provided to the Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund (SOPF). Therefore, an offer for the established amount of $515,267.25 was sent to DFO/CCG on March 29, 2016. The offer was accepted by DFO/CCG and, on or about August 19, 2016, a payment in the amount of $534,340.76 including interest was made to DFO/CCG as full and final settlement.

Recovery Action
In June 2016, the Administrator engaged a professional locator service to complete a locate and asset search on the owner of the Cormorant.

Furthermore, the counsel for SOPF filed a Statement of Claim and an Affidavit to Lead Warrant with the Federal Court. The vessel has subsequently been arrested.

The file remains open since the case is still pending in Federal Court under case management.

Related Files
Hannah Atlantic (2014), Case number: 120-652-C1 (same location of incident)
Ryan Atlantic II (formerly Cape Rouge) (2014), Case number: 120-653-C1 (same location of incident)