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Friday, July 23, 2010

Harbour near-misses

Atlantic Pilotage Authority confirms that the French naval ship Fulmar nearly hit two other ships in Halifax Harbour

Posted By on Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 1:22 PM

The Atlantic Pilotage Authority confirms there was an incident (first reported at shipfax.blogspot.com) on Halifax Harbour on Saturday, July 10. The French naval research ship Fulmar, which is based out of Saint Pierre, left port without a legally required pilot, and without anyone on the bridge who could speak fluent English. On its way through the crowded harbour the Fulmar had a came frightening close to the in-coming Essen Express, a German cargo ship, then nearly hit the Ambassador, a boat heading to the National Gypsum terminal in Dartmouth.

"There was a yacht race taking place," says Tony McGinnis, chief executive officer of the APA, "and there was fog as well."

Language problems played a significant role in the near-misses, says McGinnis. "Orders [from harbour authorities] were mis-understood." Only after the Fulmar passed McNabs Island was a pilot put on board.

McGinnis says the Fulmar captain has given a written apology, and "everyone feels terrible" about the incident. The APA is still investigating and is considering its options, which could include a $5,000 fine, although McGinnis says a fine is unlikely.

In 1917, the French ship Mont-Blanc hit the Norwegian Imo in Halifax Harbour, with disastrous results.

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