Three months after fire, HMCS Protecteur back in Esquimalt

After being towed 4,300 kilometres from Hawaii, the fire-damaged HMCS Protecteur arrived in Esquimalt Harbour at 9:30 Saturday morning.

Navy Lt. Paul Pendergast, spokesman for Maritime Forces Pacific, said the transfer of the Canadian navy warship from the ocean tug, U.S. Naval Ship Salvor, went well.

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“The Canadian tugs brought Protecteur into Esquimalt Harbour and it’s tied up inside Esquimalt Harbour now,” Pendergast said.

Protecteur left Pearl Harbor May 15, 21⁄2 months after the supply vessel had a serious engine fire.

The ship and crew were returning to Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt from exercises in the Pacific when a fire broke out Feb. 27, leaving it dead in the water about 630 kilometres off Hawaii.

Twenty members of the ship’s crew suffered smoke-inhalation injuries while fighting the blaze.

The 45-year-old Protecteur was towed to Pearl Harbor, where some of the crew remained while an initial investigation was conducted. The navy decided to continue its inquiries into the cause of the fire and an assessment of the damage in Esquimalt.

The fate of Protecteur, the navy’s only supply ship on the west coast, is unclear.

The navy had been planning for the vessel’s retirement in the next two to three years. Its replacement has already been commissioned, but may not be completed until 2020.

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