Fire sidelines Atlantic Vision

Julie Collins
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Transportation Ferry out of service as cause investigated

A fire on board a Marine Atlantic ferry heading to Port aux Basques early Wednesday morning, forced the vessel to return to North Sydney.

The fire was discovered in a thermal heating unit on the MV Atlantic Vision around 6:30 a.m., a little over an hour into the crossing. It was contained to the boiler room.

Marine Atlantic shuttles evacuated over 600 passengers from the MV Atlantic Vision after a fire on board forced the Port aux Basque bound vessel to return to North Sydney, Wednesday. Photo by Steve Wadden/Cape Breton Post

Sydney, N.S. -

A fire on board a Marine Atlantic ferry heading to Port aux Basques early Wednesday morning, forced the vessel to return to North Sydney.

The fire was discovered in a thermal heating unit on the MV Atlantic Vision around 6:30 a.m., a little over an hour into the crossing. It was contained to the boiler room.

Many of the over 600 passengers were asleep in their cabins and awoke to the ship's announcement that there was an incident on board the vessel.

"When the alarm first went off we thought, oh, a wake up call. But quickly realized that it wasn't, that it was a ship's announcement," said Roxanne Chisholm who, along with her husband Andrew, were on their way to the Baie Verte Peninsula.

"They told us that the boat wasn't sinking, that everything was under control, but that we were heading back," she said.

The Chisholms, who are from Antigonish N.S., are travelling to Newfoundland to attend a friend's wedding.

"Not only are we standing in the wedding, we have the bride's dress in the truck with us," she said.

"We also have a lot of the decorations. I already missed the bachelorette party, which was Wednesday night."

She said passengers were allowed to return to their vehicles to get medications, but otherwise had to leave their vehicles and possessions behind.

"We have to take it for what it is," said Andrew Chisholm.

"Marine Atlantic were pretty good to give us information. Just enough so people wouldn't panic, which makes sense."

Using a vessel manifest, the passengers were all accounted for and upon arrival in North Sydney, were transferred to the terminal by shuttle.

The MV Joseph and Clara Smallwood, which was originally scheduled to go to Argentia, was expected to depart at 2:15 p.m. Wednesday for Port aux Basques with passengers and vehicles from the Atlantic Vision.

Marine Atlantic's marine superintendent, Keith Hopkins, said this is the second incident involving a fire in the thermal heating units on board the Atlantic Vision.

On Dec. 27, while the vessel was anchored in North Sydney awaiting the beginning of service, a fire broke out in one of two thermal heating units on the vessel. The fire was extinguished and no injuries were reported. However, damage to the ship delayed its entry into service, originally slated for early March.

Hopkins explained the thermal heating units are fuelled by diesel or bunker oil and heat the fuel for the main engines and the ship's hot water.

"This is the second incident, I don't know at this time if it is the same cause," Hopkins said. "We didn't see any flames, but as a precautionary measure the assumption is always there that there is fire. Steps were taken to starve the fire, if it existed. After we did this, the temperature started to drop."

The fire in December was caused by a deterioration of coils in the thermal heating unit.

"We have our reps coming in from out of the country to open the unit, get inside and do a proper investigation on what happened."

Within 15 minutes of receiving the call, Hopkins contacted Transport Canada. He added that all the regulating bodies (Transport Canada, the classification societies and Marine Atlantic) will have to be in agreement that the vessel is safe to go, in order for the Vision to be re-instated into service.

North Sydney and Sydney Mines fire departments used thermal imagining cameras to give firefighters a better understanding of what they were dealing with. They also brought in positive pressure fans to ventilate and cool the boiler room area.

John Majchrowicz, vice-president of operations, who has been on the job for about two weeks, said Marine Atlantic is expecting the Atlantic Vision to be out of service for a minimum of 24 hours.

"We will be restricting commercial traffic to the MV Leif Ericson to allow for more room on the Smallwood and the Caribou," he said. "We are contacting the Atlantic Trucker's Association and our other commercial customers to advise them of our situation and identify critical loads that need to get to Newfoundland and Labrador."

Majchrowicz said he contacted the RCMP to request they direct commercial traffic away from the terminal for the time being.

The North Sydney terminal parking lot is closed to traffic until further notice. New reservations for any crossings will not be accepted for the next 24 hours to enable to Marine Atlantic to reschedule and contact customers affected by the schedule changes.

Organizations: Marine Atlantic, MV Atlantic Vision, Transport Canada Smallwood RCMP The North Sydney terminal

Geographic location: North Sydney, Sydney Mines, Port aux Basques Newfoundland and Labrador Antigonish

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Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Mechanic
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    I bought a second hand 2007 car a month ago and the alternator went yesterday. By Tom's standards I hope the government doesn't revoke my licence. Try running your car 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and let me know if you get any mechanical failures along the way.

  • P
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    The marine atlantic company is a farce! I recently crossed from Argentia and another gentlemen and I were told to turn off a TV after 11PM. There was nobody there and we were bothering nobody. He was a TOURIST and said to me what kind of operation are they running here? He was not happy for sure. Air Canada or WestJet will see him in the future. What kickbacks did the Prov. gov.t get for leaseing this hunk of junk? Two times in six months, just crazy. Family of mine who we were to meet with us now have to travel the whole island to get to NS. Pretty poor service for Newfoundlanders. Hey Danny, wonder why tourism is not so great? Check your gas prices and ferry prices and the gouging that takes place. Get with it my Boy!!!

  • Graham
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    junk. just buy a new one with all our oil money. or are we getting any oil money?

  • bw
    July 02, 2010 - 13:28

    mechanic your comparison is wrong coz ferries are designed to be running all the time and cars are not, and ferries are paid to carry large numbers of public so its standards should be much higher.

    ok let me use your argument against you, should you accept aircraft which keep breaking down and falling out of the sky? aircraft and ferries have higher expectations when it comes to maintenance and inspection because of whats at stake.

    btw, you never tested your alternator or regulator? good mechanic you are. no wonder theres so many accidents on our roads.keep up the good work.

  • D
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    This is a very pathetic situation. and I totally agree with Tom. It's about time that something is done about the transportation of people, goods and services across the gulf. Is it going to take a tragedy before something is done ...?? This service is high priority ... It's a continuation of the TCH and something should be done. It's so disappointing, disheartening, and embarrasing to see what's happening. Is this a driver in getting folks to vacation at home this year ???Who knows ... With all that's happening it's the norm to be skeptical after all.

  • tom
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    this is the worst managed company in either ns. or nl. it makes eastern health look good.if this were the private sector heads would role and the same should happen here.

  • In the know
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    IMHO Any comments made here in defence of Marine Atlantic must come from people who've never needed transport/goods from the ferry, or who have a stake in the company. This is not the first hiccup for the company - from delays to major incidents. Do we have to wait for a loss of life?

  • Honestly
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Listen, lives are at stake if its a airplane, car or ferry. If there's a mechanical breakdown with either machine people can potentially die. Mechanical failures happen with any machinery. I've been on a flight that has had to return to the airport because of mechanical problems. Point is that it makes no difference what type of transportation you're talking about, things break.

    And just for the record more people die in vehicle accidents than airplane or ferry accidents. Perhaps we should increase the vehicle standard and let the airplane and ferry standards slide.

  • Rodger
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    We just travelled the Gulf and made sure that when doing so we did not take the Vision. We have heard more bad reports about her than good so we opted to take the Caribou. We did have a good place to sit and enjoyed a couple of movies. Good choice.......There was an eight hour delay on the Vision for reasons that I don't even want to know. I guess that the vision that the crowd at M.A. was blurry when they decided that this ferry was a good choice. I wonder if the people in BC would stand for such poor service if they had to deal with the delays like this going to and fro Vancouver Island. My hat off to the tourism folk in Port aux Basque, what a great time we had there, another gem tarnished by Marine Atlantic. Maybe Dannys tunnel ideal isn't so bad.

  • don
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    I would like to see the entire operating record and safety history of the Atlantic Vision since the day the ship was launched made public. How many other fires and safety incidents has this ship had prior to being leased by Marine Atlantic?

  • k
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    My family just came home from a 2 week vacation in Nova Scotia. We used the |Atlantic Vision and thought it was awesome. So glad we did not get caught in the whole fire situation. It is too bad that the ship is having so much trouble. Is it really the ship or the people/company running it???

  • Mechanic
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    I bought a second hand 2007 car a month ago and the alternator went yesterday. By Tom's standards I hope the government doesn't revoke my licence. Try running your car 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and let me know if you get any mechanical failures along the way.

  • P
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    The marine atlantic company is a farce! I recently crossed from Argentia and another gentlemen and I were told to turn off a TV after 11PM. There was nobody there and we were bothering nobody. He was a TOURIST and said to me what kind of operation are they running here? He was not happy for sure. Air Canada or WestJet will see him in the future. What kickbacks did the Prov. gov.t get for leaseing this hunk of junk? Two times in six months, just crazy. Family of mine who we were to meet with us now have to travel the whole island to get to NS. Pretty poor service for Newfoundlanders. Hey Danny, wonder why tourism is not so great? Check your gas prices and ferry prices and the gouging that takes place. Get with it my Boy!!!

  • Graham
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    junk. just buy a new one with all our oil money. or are we getting any oil money?

  • bw
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    mechanic your comparison is wrong coz ferries are designed to be running all the time and cars are not, and ferries are paid to carry large numbers of public so its standards should be much higher.

    ok let me use your argument against you, should you accept aircraft which keep breaking down and falling out of the sky? aircraft and ferries have higher expectations when it comes to maintenance and inspection because of whats at stake.

    btw, you never tested your alternator or regulator? good mechanic you are. no wonder theres so many accidents on our roads.keep up the good work.

  • D
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    This is a very pathetic situation. and I totally agree with Tom. It's about time that something is done about the transportation of people, goods and services across the gulf. Is it going to take a tragedy before something is done ...?? This service is high priority ... It's a continuation of the TCH and something should be done. It's so disappointing, disheartening, and embarrasing to see what's happening. Is this a driver in getting folks to vacation at home this year ???Who knows ... With all that's happening it's the norm to be skeptical after all.

  • tom
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    this is the worst managed company in either ns. or nl. it makes eastern health look good.if this were the private sector heads would role and the same should happen here.

  • In the know
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    IMHO Any comments made here in defence of Marine Atlantic must come from people who've never needed transport/goods from the ferry, or who have a stake in the company. This is not the first hiccup for the company - from delays to major incidents. Do we have to wait for a loss of life?

  • Honestly
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    Listen, lives are at stake if its a airplane, car or ferry. If there's a mechanical breakdown with either machine people can potentially die. Mechanical failures happen with any machinery. I've been on a flight that has had to return to the airport because of mechanical problems. Point is that it makes no difference what type of transportation you're talking about, things break.

    And just for the record more people die in vehicle accidents than airplane or ferry accidents. Perhaps we should increase the vehicle standard and let the airplane and ferry standards slide.

  • Rodger
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    We just travelled the Gulf and made sure that when doing so we did not take the Vision. We have heard more bad reports about her than good so we opted to take the Caribou. We did have a good place to sit and enjoyed a couple of movies. Good choice.......There was an eight hour delay on the Vision for reasons that I don't even want to know. I guess that the vision that the crowd at M.A. was blurry when they decided that this ferry was a good choice. I wonder if the people in BC would stand for such poor service if they had to deal with the delays like this going to and fro Vancouver Island. My hat off to the tourism folk in Port aux Basque, what a great time we had there, another gem tarnished by Marine Atlantic. Maybe Dannys tunnel ideal isn't so bad.

  • don
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    I would like to see the entire operating record and safety history of the Atlantic Vision since the day the ship was launched made public. How many other fires and safety incidents has this ship had prior to being leased by Marine Atlantic?

  • k
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    My family just came home from a 2 week vacation in Nova Scotia. We used the |Atlantic Vision and thought it was awesome. So glad we did not get caught in the whole fire situation. It is too bad that the ship is having so much trouble. Is it really the ship or the people/company running it???