Fire guts ex-CG ship

Of course after I origianlly posted this, I attended a meeting with a member of Enviromental Respose, Canadian Coast Guard and he assures me that they are empowered to deal with these vessels and levy fines against the owners.
I am more then relieved to find out that I was incorrect in my statements.
And, the Ex-Tupper sits down there, very forlonly, there is not a window left in the superstructure.

This was in today’s Halifax paper.

It is an interesting article for a number of reasons, first in that the local fire department managed to knock out the fire on the vessel without capsizing her.

There would have been no opportunity of pulling the pins on the fire suppression system, even if the system would have worked and there would have been minimal power and lights on board after being tied up, unmanned for so long.

The second issue I have been researching in my little spare time,with the thought of Blogging about.

The Tupper is now a derelict vessel in Halifax Habour. Like the derelict vessel that was half sunk in Sydney harbour after breaking loose and abandoned fishing vessels tied up on both coasts, there is little that can be done with them.

There is no law, that I could find, that forces the owners to deal with these derelicts. The ships can be left until they sink or the hull corrodes to the point that tanks begin leaking and polluting the local environment. Home owners literally have these rusted hulks sitting in their front yard.

The implications is millions of dollars of cost to the Canadian taxpayer in cleaning the environment and disposing of the ship.

Transport Canada and Department of Fisheries and Oceans do not have the budget to address the problem and as far as I know, do not have the mandate to force the registered owners to.

So, I guess, I will watch out my office window for oil bubbles from the ex-Tupper’s hull and see how long before someone does something about it.

Fire crews battled a stubborn blaze Saturday on a decommissioned coast guard ship moored in Dartmouth.

Plumes of smoke spiralled into the sky over Halifax Harbour all morning as firefighters used ladder trucks to douse the 70-metre-long ship with water from land. A navy tugboat attacked the fire from the other side with a high-pressure hose.

Divisional Capt. Dave Meldrum, a Halifax regional fire service spokesman, said crews arrived at the Dartmouth Marine Slips off Alderney Drive at about 4:30 a.m. and found the fire raging in the helicopter hangar of the ship, known formerly as the Tupper. No one was on the vessel.

“Shortly after arrival we saw heavy fire and smoke on the top deck and the next deck down,” Capt. Meldrum said. “It was a significant fire, for sure.”

Firefighters went aboard at one point but later withdrew to safety on shore as the blaze intensified. At one point there were five heavy fire trucks and 30 firefighters at the scene, and crew from the navy firefighting ship Firebird were assisting.

“Those crews did an awesome job because there were some pretty tough conditions in there,” Capt. Meldrum said.

The blaze was still burning out of control at mid-morning and the ship was listing, but by 4:45 p.m. firefighters had finished up at the scene. The ship remained tied up at the wharf afterward.

“I’m not sure about structural damage to the ship itself, but certainly the interior and the contents are completely destroyed,” Platoon Chief Bryson Wilson said just before 5:30 p.m.
Staff Sgt. Sean Auld of Halifax Regional Police said investigators were treating the fire as suspicious.

Fighting fires on ships requires a different set of skills, and crews were worried about the vessel capsizing, Capt. Meldrum said.

“Vessel fires are dangerous fires,” he said. “We’re a municipal fire department. Our expertise lies in land-based firefighting. That’s what we do — buildings and structures.

“As a land-based fire department we’re aware that we only have a limited knowledge of what goes on aboard ships, so we’re making our very best efforts to do this but to do it safely. We’re being very cautious because our firefighters’ lives are worth a lot more than any of this stuff.”
Capt. Meldrum said the fuel tanks aboard the vessel were secure.

“Right now it doesn’t look like we have a significant pollution hazard on the go.”
Keith Laidlaw, an environmental response officer with the Canadian Coast Guard, confirmed there were no fuel spills.

“There’s been no releases and we don’t expect there to be any,” he said.

The Tupper, built in Sorel, Que., in 1959, was decommissioned Nov. 30, 1999, and sold for $199,969 to the Italian company Exploration Commercial Charter Yachts of Livorno. The firm planned to spend millions of dollars upgrading and refurbishing the vessel, which was renamed Caruso, into an ultra-luxury motor yacht for charters.

The highest-profile Nova Scotia ship fire in the past decade occurred in 2001, when the MV Kitano, a Japanese cargo vessel, caught fire while it was traveling between New York and Halifax. The Transportation Safety Board issued a 2003 report critical of the communication among the firefighting forces involved. (

Picture of the ex Tupper on fire in Halifax, by ChrisM at

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