In the early hours of July 11th, a 34-foot gill-netter, the Robert Brian, sunk off Hocking Point near Nahmint Bay in Alberni Inlet with an estimated 500 litres of diesel fuel aboard. The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) was first to respond and deployed 250 feet of boom establishing initial containment.
The CCG activated WCMRC with the Port Alberni base responding, marking their third marine oil spill incident since the base came online. The base was tasked to tend to the boom already deployed by the CCG, line the boom with sorbents and recover soiled sorbents. Responding to the scene were the 38-foot landing craft Nootka Sentinel and 3 crew, the 26-foot workboat Sentinel 32 and 3 crew, and a 30-foot boom skiff with 2,000 feet of boom and anchor kits (to standby and only be deployed if needed).
Each day of the incident brought with it unique challenges as the sunken vessel was able to move within an approximate 60-foot circle of where it was anchored. Further complications included depth and current. The response allowed for both senior and junior mariners to gain experience on a spill with a moving target in fast flowing water.
On July 18th, the CCG requested WCMRC remove the containment boom and leave one marker buoy to the anchor line for CCG reference ending the incident response.
This incident provided an excellent opportunity to showcase Port Alberni’s, and WCMRC’s, newly expanded response capabilities in the region. The response elicited positive feedback from local communities and from the Tseshaht First Nation.
WCMRC has made a commitment to coastal First Nations that we will notify them whenever we are activated within their territory; during this incident 8 First Nations were provided with regular updates regarding WCMRC’s response. With the spill being in the heart of Tseshaht First Nation territory, WCMRC’s Indigenous Relations Advisor, Jonathan Wray, invited Tseshaht Chief, Ken Watts, to join WCMRC crews for an on-water assessment of the vessel and incident area.
Below is a quote from Chief Watts, on his perspective of WCMRC’s response to the incident:
“Tseshaht is thankful for the immediate response of the Coast Guard and WCMRC to this incident at Hocking Point recently. While it was not the final result Tseshaht would have hoped for as the ship was not recovered, WCMRC acted fast and remained in good communication with our First Nation. We have now witnessed the benefit of the WCMRC having a base in our territory and staff who work hard to help take care of our territory.”