Powerless ship with tons of fuel off B.C. coast under tow to keep it from running aground

VICTORIA, B.C. -- An incapacitated Russian container ship that had left Washington state carrying hundreds of tons of fuel is being towed away from the coast of British Columbia, it was reported Friday.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said the Russian bulk carrier vessel Simushir, which had been adrift and posed a threat to the coast with its cargo, was being towed about 25 kilometres off Moresby Island's Tasu Sound, according to the Canadian Forces' Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria.

The CBC said the ship became incapacitated in gale-fore winds at about 1:30 a.m. Friday.

Ten people are on board, after the injured captain was airlifted off the vessel. The nature of his injury wasn't known.

The Council of the Haida Nation had issued an emergency alert in case the ship makes landfall, in part because the ship is carrying 470 tons of bunker fuel and 50 tons of diesel fuel, the CBC said.

The ship, the Simushir, was en route from Washington state to Russia when it lost power.

Foss Marine Ltd. dispatched the tug Barbara Foss from Prince Rupert, B.C., with plans to tow the stricken vessel back to Prince Rupert, but officials told the CBC it won't arrive until Saturday morning at the earliest.

The B.C. Ministries of Justice and Environment said, “A B.C. Incident Management Team has been activated, which includes Emergency Environmental Response Officers (EEROs) and other technical specialists. The Province is also contacting its partners in the BC Pacific States Oil Spill Task Force both to notify them of the risk and to ask them to provide mutual aid as needed based on the outcome of efforts to restore power to the vessel.”

The B.C. Pacific States Oil Spill Task Force includes officials from the states of Washington, Oregon, Alaska and California.