Farley Mowat (2015)

LOCATION: Wharf in Shelburne, Nova Scotia

Case number: 120-679

On June 24, 2015, the Canadian Coast Guard Environmental Response personnel (CCG ER) were notified that the M/V Farley Mowat was sinking at the wharf in Shelburne, Nova Scotia. The ship was well down by the stern and was thought to be touching the bottom off the Harbour Authority dock. CCG ER personnel attended the site on June 25 and found that the ship could not be boarded because it was unstable, and some 20 feet off the side of the dock. A 600 ft containment boom was then streamed around the ship. The harbour was patrolled to locate debris and oil drums that had floated off the deck when the vessel sank. Transport Canada Marine Safety and Environment Canada Enforcement personnel were on site. The Transport Canada surveillance aircraft completed an overflight and reported 37 litres of oil in the harbour between the site and the shipyard. (Several media interviews were conducted on site.) The firm of RMI was contracted to dive on the ship the following day. Coast Guard arranged to deploy its regional mobile command post and security was posted at the dock gate.

On June 26, sludge and an oil sheen were observed inside the containment boom and also extending 1000 feet off the dock outside the boom. An additional 200 feet of boom was deployed around the backside of the dock and absorbents were placed inside the booms. RMI divers assessed the condition of the vessel, the location of the hull leaks, and the amount of oil inside the structure. During the next several days, Coast Guard completed harbour patrol with two of its pollution response boats and inspected the local trout farm, but apparently the sheen had not reached the trout farm area. Transport Canada overflights reported 13 litres of oil sheen within the harbour itself.

On June 27, the sub-contractor, Atlantic Industrial Cleaners, arrived with a vacuum truck. The truck was used to remove oily waste that was free floating within four accommodation spaces. Oil was found in two separated holding tanks and removed by suction hose with the aid of the diving team. The total volume vacuumed out was 22,500 litres of oil mixture. It was estimated that 10 per cent of the total volume was fuel oil – that is, 2,250 litres. In the meantime, Coast Guard personnel recovered the last of the five oil drums that had floated away from the ship during the sinking. An additional 1000 lbs of oil soaked absorbents were recovered from inside the containment boom, for a total recovery of 2000 lbs of absorbent materials.

The contractors continued daily salvage operations from June 28 to August 2 when the wreck was raised and refloated alongside the pier. The sub-contractor Eagle Beach Construction fabricated steel pilings which were driven into the harbour seabed adjacent to the wharf, in preparation for the ship’s raising. These pilings were used as support for the ship as a counter-measure to its turning over during the raising process, where it was tethered and secured by steel ropes. Furthermore, a series of submersible pumps were used to pump out the sunken wreck in a controlled fashion once the vessel’s hull was stabilized. During this extended salvage operation, Coast Guard personnel continued to conduct daily harbour patrols with the CGE 319 pollution response boat and recovered stray oil pads found along the shoreline. Furthermore, it was necessary to attend to the containment booms that were still releasing an oil sheen. Oil soaked absorbent materials were collected. The air patrols were also conducted frequently. The overall monitoring of the contractor’s salvage measures continued throughout.

On August 3, Atlantic Industrial Cleaners was again on site with a vacuum truck and hot water pressure washer to clean the interior of the ship. RMI removed the pumps and hoses. The divers fabricated and installed plugs on the sea bays. Coast Guard removed the containment booms and demobilized the CGE 319 response boat. On August 5, a final inspection of the Farley Mowat was completed by Transport Canada Marine Safety, Environment Canada Enforcement, Shelburne Harbour Authority and the Coast Guard personnel. They agreed that all reasonable measures had been taken to remove contaminates from the ship. The owner was notified that Coast Guard was finished with its response. The Farley Mowat was secured alongside and personnel departed the site.

This incident was initially brought to the Administrator’s attention at the outset on June 25, 2015, by counsel in Halifax. The Administrator, therefore, instructed counsel to engage a marine technical surveyor to attend the scene of the operation during salvage of the sunken ship. The surveyor for the Fund had discussions with the Coast Guard personnel about the measures planned for the recovery operations. As a result, the surveyor was able later to advise the Administrator about the measures being taken by the contractors during the refloating operations.

On January 18, 2016, the Administrator received a claim from Coast Guard for costs and expenses in the amount of $814,815.05, pursuant to the Marine Liability Act. Receipt of the filed claim was acknowledged on the following day.

On July 7, 2016, after reaching an agreement with Coast Guard on a way forward with respect to the Release and Subrogation issue, the Administrator paid the claim in the amount of $839,863.02 including interest.

The Administrator engaged a professional locator service to complete a locate and asset search of the registered owner of the vessel. No exigible assets were identified. The registered owner is however a repeat polluter, as claims paid by the Fund for the Ryan Atlantic II, the Hannah Atlantic and the Farley Mowat involve the same registered owner and total over one million dollars. The Administrator then commenced an action in the Federal Court seeking a default judgement against the registered owner of the vessel. The registered owner of the vessel filed a Defence with the Court. The file remains open.