HMCS Protecteur was returning to its homeport of CFB Esquimalt, B.C., when at 10:20 p.m. Pacific Standard Time yesterday, HMCS Protecteur contacted the Regional Joint Operations Centre (RJOC), located at Maritime Pacific Headquarters (MARPAC) at CFB Esquimalt, B.C., to report a fire onboard the vessel. The fire was in the vessel’s engine room. Sailors onboard the warship put out the fire and crew members are managing the situation. Personnel sustained minor injuries but are safe and they are being treated on board.
Protecteur is presently located approximately 340 nautical miles (630 km) northeast of Pearl Harbour. The ship has limited power and a return to Pearl Harbour is expected. A full assessment of the situation is being conducted to establish the extent of the damage.
HMCS Protecteur was returning from operational duties in the mid-Pacific Ocean with 279 crew, 17 family members and two civilian contractors who joined the ship for the return transit. Having family members on board for the last part of a sail is a common practice with RCN ships returning from extended operations and exercises and one that family members appreciate.
MARPAC personnel are in contact with U.S. Navy personnel at Third Fleet headquarters. The U.S. Navy has sent the destroyer USS Michael Murphy, to provide assistance to Protecteur.
(Photo Above Sister Ship HMCS Preserver)
UPDATE: Apparently the fire was major, and took a long time to bring under control. Protecteur is now Dead in the water and waiting on tugs to arrive to tow her back to Pearl harbour.
Update 03/01: The ship remains stopped 340 nautical miles North East of Hawaii. During the morning of March 1, United States Ship (USS) Chosin reached HMCS Protecteur and commenced transferring additional relief supplies to HMCS Protecteur using USS Chosin’s helicopter. A helicopter then began transferring family members who were on HMCS Protecteur to USS Michael Murphy, where they will sail safely to Pearl Harbour.
Over the next 24 hours it is anticipated that HMCS Protecteur will be taken under tow by the USS Chosin and start her transit back to Pearl Harbour. Once in Hawaii, efforts will commence to prepare Protecteur for her return to Esquimalt. We remain in very close contact with the Protecteur family members.
The Royal Canadian Navy is very appreciative of the tremendous support that has been provided by the USN and United Stated Coast Guard throughout this very difficult situation. It is yet another example of the strong relationship and interoperability that exists between our navies.
The 20 personnel on board HMCS Protecteur who received minor injuries
have been treated and most have returned to regular duties. The state of
their health continues to be monitored by the ship's medical staff.
Yesterday at 3 p.m. PST, USS Michael Murphy arrived at HMCS Protecteur's
location and provided relief supplies including water. The USN warship
attempted to take Protecteur under tow but weather conditions,
specifically high winds, hampered those efforts. The Michael Murphy
remained on scene with HMCS Protecteur overnight. Fleet Ocean tug USNS Sioux is also heading towards Protecteur to assist
in the towing operations if necessary.
HMCS Protecteur has limited electrical power and onboard systems are
being reactivated in a controlled manner. The ships company is well and
focused on recovery operations in the ship and rest. Ongoing medical and
support services are being provided to all onboard.
There are reports of significant fire and heat damage to the ship's
engine room and considerable heat and smoke damage in surrounding
compartments. An extensive and detailed damage assessment will be
commenced once the ship arrives in Hawaii. An investigation into the
cause of the fire is also being initiated.
UPDATE: March 2
USN released imagery of the tow.