A photo taken from the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Leonard J. Cowley as it arrived upon the scene of the FV Newfoundland Pearl on fire early this morning off the coast of Newfoundland. In the background is the FV Sir Eldon that safely picked up the Pearls crew members from a liferaft. Photo by the Canadian Coast Guard
Five members of a fishing crew are safe and sound and headed back to shore after a fire destroyed their boat, the Newfoundland Pearl, around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The crew was fishing shrimp about 180 nautical miles east of St. John's when they noticed dense smoke billowing through the engine room and very shortly after they could see flames.
Neil Peet, a search mission co-ordinator at the Maritime Rescue Substation in St. John's, says those on board never did get out a full distress call, though they were able to get on survival suits and get into an eight-person inflatable liferaft.
The crew also managed to make a call to a nearby fishing boat, Mercy Phoenix, which was overheard by the fishing boat Sir Eldon, also fishing in the area.
The two fishing boats headed toward the Newfoundland Pearl, as did the Canadian Coast Guard ship Leonard J. Cowley, and a Cormorant helicopter from Gander and Hercules from Greenwood, N.S.
Within 15 minutes, the Sir Eldon was on the scene and managed to get all five members of the crew on board.
The rest of the search and rescue was called off and the Leonard J. Cowley continued towards the wreck, which was still flaming at the water line at 2 a.m. when it arrived.
The crew was then picked up by the Cowley which is bringing them back to St. John's today.
No one was injured in the fire or the escape.
"I was talking to the owner this morning and I said wood and plastic and fiberglass can be replaced, but human lives cannot," Peet says.
There will be an investigation into the cause of the sinking, but there's no indication yet what could have caused the fire as the crew hasn't yet been debriefed.