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HMCS Winnipeg fuel leak contaminates food just before sailing

A diesel leak inside HMCS Winnipeg destroyed $65,000 worth of food and beverage, leaving its crew and CFB Esquimalt personnel scrambling over the weekend to replace the supplies in time for the warship’s deployment Monday morning.

A diesel leak inside HMCS Winnipeg destroyed $65,000 worth of food and beverage, leaving its crew and CFB Esquimalt personnel scrambling over the weekend to replace the supplies in time for the warship’s deployment Monday morning.

On Thursday afternoon, a valve failure caused 7,000 litres of fuel to leak into a storage compartment, contaminating $48,000 worth of dry food including pasta, canned goods, coffee and flour as well as $17,000 in beverages, said navy spokesman Lt.-Cmdr. Desmond James.

The food had to be thrown out, leaving sailors and supply managers working all weekend to replace it.

Some of the food was replaced using supplies from other ships and the base kitchen, and some items were ordered through a vendor and delivered Saturday morning, James said.

“People worked all weekend to make sure the ship was out the door,” he said. “It didn’t impact Winnipeg’s ability to sail [Monday morning].”

Sailors from other ships were called in to help remove the contaminated food, clean out the space, paint it and re-stock so that crew members from HMCS Winnipeg could spend the weekend with their families.

James did not know how many months’ worth of food or drink was spoiled.

“It takes a whole lot of food for that ship to be able to operate on its own on the water for an extended period of time,” he said.

The navy is investigating what caused the valve failure.

HMCS Winnipeg left Esquimalt Harbour Monday morning to be part of Operation Reassurance in central and eastern Europe, a NATO-led mission aimed at countering the Russian-backed unrest in Ukraine.

On the way, the ship will take part in Operation CARIBBE for about three weeks, a multinational drug-trafficking effort to combat organized crime in the Caribbean sea and eastern Pacific Ocean.

HMCS Winnipeg replaces HMCS Fredericton, which has been part of the mission since January.

kderosa@timescolonist.com