Grand Charlevoix (2013)

LOCATION: Cap du Basque, at the mouth of the Saguenay River

Case number: 120-677

Late in the morning of July 15, 2013, the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) was alerted that the Grand Charlevoix, a 19.8-metre commercial excursion vessel touched bottom and was holed with 38 persons including passengers on board about three nautical miles from Cap du Basque, at the mouth of the Saguenay River, Quebec. The engine room had flooded resulting in mechanical failure; however, the vessel was not in immediate danger. CCG broadcasted a Pan-Pan-Pan alert followed by a Mayday relay. Several vessels in the immediate vicinity came to the assistance of the Grand Charlevoix and safely evacuated the passengers. The incident started as a Search and Rescue incident and migrated to a pollution response incident.

The vessel had 800 litres of diesel on board and traces of pollution were sighted around the vessel. The CCG concluded that there was an ongoing risk of pollution from the vessel and used the program Farseek Spillview to determine possible trajectory predictions for the spread of any pollution.

This incident occurred in the vicinity of Parc Marin du Saguenay. Environment Canada completed an issues assessment and concluded that the bird areas, mussel and beluga habitat were all at risk. Parks Canada was concerned about the potential impact of any pollution within the boundaries of the park.

The owner of the vessel took on the role of On-Scene Commander, with the CCG assuming the role of Federal Monitoring Officer. The owner developed and put in place an action plan to deal with the situation. The CCG  provided absorbent boom and absorbents to the vessel and the pollution risk was contained.

Transport Canada approved a refloating and towing plan for the vessel. On July 16 the vessel was safely towed to Isle-aux-Coudres, where the vessel was boomed. Steps were taken to deal with the onsite pollution and the vessel was finally pumped out and lifted out of the water onto the dock.

A claim from DFO/CCG was received by the SOPF on June 16, 2015 for costs and expenses in the amount of $6,508.81, almost two years from the date of the incident.

On July 14, 2015, after investigation and assessment of the claim, the Administrator found the full amount of $6,508.81 to be established. The Administrator subsequently made a final offer for the established amount, plus interest, as full and final settlement pursuant to the Marine Liability Act (MLA). The offer included a Release and Subrogation Agreement.

In July 2016, the Administrator paid the Department of Fisheries and Oceans $7,111.26 including interest and proceeded with recourse action against the shipowner before the statutory deadline.  Counsel for the shipowner initially raised the issue of the long delay in presentation of the Fund claim and invoked the fact that no court action had been filed before the 3 year period after this delay was passed.   The shipowner did not accept financial responsibility under the Marine Liability Act.  After consideration the Administrator concluded that all reasonable steps to recover the costs of the claim had been taken and subsequently closed the file on March 31, 2017.