Shipfax is reporting that the tow line parted today setting HMCS Athabaskan adrift of Scatrie Island, where the M/V Miner is grounded on shore.
Athabaskan was towed into Sydney by the backup tug Andre H, and is reported to be safe.
For more see shipfax http://shipfax.blogspot.ca/2012/12/hmcs-athabaskan-tow-in-trouble.html
Addtional update from shipfax - there may have been contact and Athabaskan has been damaged. Read more here and Here which has addtional photos of the damage.
UPDATE 01/01/13: I have received confirmation from a source that there are punctures on the port side of the hull, near the Numbers. Shipfax has the photos
UPDATE 02/01/13: Shipfax is reporting Atlantic Towing will be completing the tow and has tugs in Sydney. They have a good synopsis here
CBC news is reporting "The Iroquois-class destroyer, which is currently docked in North Sydney, has at least seven holes in its hull along with several dents and scrapes. It also appears the ship's frame may be warped along the waterline.
The Royal Canadian Navy declined to comment to CBC News about the extent of the damage."
the story included this video of the damage
Update 12/30/12: CBC News is reporting:
Capt. Doug Keirstead, a spokesman for Maritime Forces Atlantic, said there was no one on the ship at the time, but there were people on the tug.
He said the line was reconnected with the help of a Cormorant helicopter from the airbase in Greenwood, N.S.
"One of the crew members who was on the tug was lowered down to Athabaskan to reconnect the line, as was a member of the tug's crew," Keirstead told CBC News on Sunday.
Athabaskan was in St. Catharines, Ont., for a refit. It was on its way to Halifax for the winter when it went adrift.
Once the line was reconnected, the ship was towed to Sydney to wait out the current winter storm. It's not known when it will resume the journey to Halifax.
Photo HMCS Athabaskan is towed into Sydney harbour to wait out bad weather. (Yvonne Leblanc-Smith/CBC)
Cape Breton post reports
The HMCS Athabaskan drifted in the North Atlantic for hours off Scatarie Island, which has been home to the wreck of the bulk cargo ship, MV Miner, for the past 15 months.
Capt. Doug Keirstead, a spokesman for Marine Forces Atlantic, said the tow line broke due to the poor weather in the region at the time.
There was no one on the Athabaskan at the time, said Keirstead, adding the immediate concern was for the safety of the crew towing the vessel to the Halifax naval dockyard.
“It was drifting at about 0.5 knots, so it was going very slow,” he said, Sunday.
“I do know that they were far enough offshore to allow the ship to be reconnected safely and efficiently, and of course be towed into Sydney at that point to safely avoid the poor weather.”
Keirstead said he was unsure of the exact distance from shore, but given the drifting speed of the Athabaskan, and the time it took to have a Cormorant helicopter fly from its Annapolis Valley airbase in Greenwood to help reconnect the tow line, the ship wasn’t in danger of running aground.
The commercial tugs, contracted by the Canadian Forces, pulled the Iroquois-class destroyer into Sydney harbour late Saturday afternoon.
The HMCS Athabaskan, which has been in service for the Canadian Forces since 1972, had been undergoing a refit in St. Catharines, Ont., and was being towed back to its home port of Halifax prior to the winter closing of the St. Lawrence Seaway.
It hasn’t been determined when the ship will resume its voyage to Halifax, Keirstead said.
He said it’s not unusual for a tow line to break.
“When we’re having to contend with severe weather conditions, which include high winds and rough seas, that can place a challenge on towing a vessel like that.”
It’s not expected there will be an investigation into the tow line break as it’s a “reasonably straight forward issue,” Keirstead said.
However, he noted the Canadian Forces always looks at lessons learned and how that can be applied to future tows.
Additional update from the Cape Breton Post:
Don Merritt photos of the damage