HMCS Pro­tecteur Fire

RCN News - - News -

HMCS Pro­tecteur was towed into Pearl Har­bor by a U. S. Navy ocean tug; one week af­ter a fire in the en­gine room caused the ves­sel to lose power sev­eral hun­dred kilo­me­tres north­west of Hawaii.

The crew of the Esquimalt, B.C.-based ship had been re­ly­ing on gen­er­a­tors to sup­ply power to the gal­ley and liv­ing ar­eas af­ter the fire knocked out power to the ves­sel.

About 20 crew mem­bers suf­fered mi­nor in­juries — in­clud­ing de­hy­dra­tion, ex­haus­tion and smoke in­hala­tion — af­ter a fire broke out in the en­gine room on Fe­bru­ary 27 around 10:20 p.m. PT.

Crew mem­ber An­dre Aubrey was con­duct­ing per­son­nel and equip­ment train­ing in the en­gine room when he says the gen­er­a­tor caught fire right in front of him. "If you can pic­ture a blan­ket cov­er­ing ev­ery­thing... you're turn­ing left and rig ht and it's just fire over top of you. You've got to crouch down be­cause you're start­ing to feel the lay­ers of heat. At that point, I was just scream­ing, ‘Fire, fire, fire’."

Aubrey says he and other per­son­nel nearby quickly took ac­tion to put the fire out. He grabbed a CO2 ex­tin­guisher and aimed it at the flames. Aubrey says he con­tin­ued ex­tin­guish­ing the flames un­til the CO2 bot­tle ran out, caus­ing the flames t o reignite. He told other per­son­nel it was time to get out, and ran to­ward the con­trol room to tell other of­fi­cers what was hap­pen­ing.

"All I could see was fig­ures. The con­trol room was al­ready smoked up… People scream­ing, try­ing to get con­trol of the plant and try­ing to es­tab­lish things."

The fire was even­tu­ally ex­tin­guished. Se­nior of­fi­cers from the base in Esquimalt and in­ves­ti­ga­tors were on the pier as the ship was towed in on March 6. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion into what caused the fire is ex­pected to be­gin shortly.

At the time, Pro­tecteur was re­turn­ing from op­er­a­tions with the U.S. navy in the mid-Pa­cific. The ship was car­ry­ing 279 crew, 17 fam­ily mem­bers and two civil­ian con­trac­tors.

On Tues­day, the fam­ily mem­bers who were on board the ship for the fi­nal leg of its jour­ney ar­rived at Pearl Har­bor on board a U.S. de­stroyer.

Na­tional De­fence said ear­lier that hav­ing fam­ily mem­bers on board for the fi­nal part of such a voy­age is a com­mon prac­tice with navy ships re­turn­ing from ex­tended op­er­a­tions and ex­er­cises.

Pro­tecteur, launched in 1969, is one of two aux­il­iary oil re­plen­ish­ment ships in the Cana­dian navy. The mil­i­tary an­nounced in Oc­to­ber that Pro­tecteur and its sis­ter sup­ply ship on the East Coast, HMCS Pre­server, will be re­tired in 2015. Con­struc­tion of new sup­ply ships is ex­pected to be­gin in late 2016, with a tar­get of hav­ing them in ser­vice by 2019-20.

An SH-60B Sea Hawk he­li­copter pre­pares to un­load ma­te­ri­als aboard the stricken aux­il­iary oil re­plen­ish­ment ship HMCS Protec

teur (AOR 509) dur­ing re­cov­ery op­er­a­tions. (Mass Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Specialist 3rd Class Jo­hans Chavarro)

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