Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ferry Queen of the North sinks off the coast of British Columbia

About twenty four hours ago, the B.C. ferry Queen of the North sank off the coast of British Columbia, south of Prince Rupert, not far from the small village of Hartley Bay. All 102 passengers were safely rescued, according to news reports. The ship sank with numerous vehicles on board.

The Washington Post has more:
The ship, Queen of the North, apparently hit a rock about 1:40 a.m. Pacific time while on an overnight run between Prince Rupert and Port Hardy, according to Daniel Bate, a spokesman for the Canadian Coast Guard in Vancouver.

It was traveling the scenic, rugged inside passage of the central coast, a series of interior channels and waterways.

The ship listed, and sank slowly over the course of an hour, Bate said, allowing the passengers to get into life boats while the ferry sent out a Mayday distress call.

A large Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker ship, the Sir Wilfred Laurier, was on patrol nearby, and arrived within 30 minutes, according to news reports in Canada. A fishing trawler from the tiny fishing village of Hartley Bay also moved toward the sinking ferry, and both ships began taking passengers from life boats.
The CBC also has a thorough report with some accompanying video to provide some visuals. You can also check this out this link to Google Maps Canada which will show you a satellite map with highlighting indicating where the ship sank.

As the Post notes, the ship is quite a loss:
[The Queen of the North] measures 410 feet long and can carry up to 700 passengers and 115 cars. It has a formal dining room and a cafeteria, as well as a lounge, cabins, children's playroom and video arcade.
Just for comparison purposes, the Washington State Ferries' biggest ships (there are three in the Jumbo Mark II Class) measure 460 feet in length and can carry up to 2,500 passengers, 218 vehicles, and 60 commercial vehicles. B.C. Ferries' biggest ships (the Spirit Class) are 549 feet in length and can carry 2,100 passengers and 470 cars.

The community of Hartley Bay should be commended for their superhuman effort to rescue the people on board the ship. Now the B.C. Environmental Ministry must move quickly to begin cleaning up the mess the ship left behind, and the sinking must be investigated.

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