An bear watching vessel owned by Jamie’s Whaling Station has run aground and partially sunk near Warn Bay on Vancouver Island, according to the Canadian Coast Guard.
It is the same company whose whale watching vessel the Leviathan II capsized last October, killing six passengers.
In an email, the Canadian Coast Guard says the incident, involving the 40′ MV Stellar Sea, happened late yesterday when the vessel ran aground and took on water.
But in a statement released late Sunday, tour operators Jamie’s Whaling Station deny the boat sank.
“Some early media reports today have suggested the Stellar Sea partially sank as a result of this incident. We can confirm that did not occur.”
The company says the boat had 26 passengers aboard for its final bear watching tour of the day when it ran aground at low speed.
It says all passengers were transferred to another company vessel and returned to Tofino where they were given refunds. It says no one requested medical attention.
Jamie’s Whaling Station’s website says the vessel holds 40 passengers and is “typically used for Bear Watching, and private inlet charters.”
The Coast Guard says everyone was safely removed from the boat.
It says crews from the Tofino station boomed the vessel off, and that there have been no reports of pollution.
It adds Jamie’s Whaling Station has hired a contractor to salvage the vessel, and that two additional Coast Guard specialists are being deployed to assist with monitoring the situation.
The company says the boat is currently out of commission, but will be returned to port shortly and repaired.
TSB investigation underway
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is now deploying a team of investigators following this incident. The TSB will gather information and assess the occurrence. The agency has issued a brief release making its investigative position clear.
“The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.”