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Updated: Fri, 28 Feb 2014 18:27:18 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

HMCS Protecteur adrift in mid-Pacific after fire



Canadian Armed Forces

Canadian Armed Forces

A fire in the engine room of the warship HMCS Protecteur has left the vessel adrift in the mid-Pacific in heavy seas with no propulsion power, sources tell CBC News.

The fire broke out Thursday around 10:20 p.m. PT as the Protecteur was returning from operational duties with nearly 300 on board, according to the navy.

Navy officials said several crew members suffered minor injuries in the fire before it was extinguished by sailors.

The ship is based in Esquimalt, B.C.

HMCS Protecteur is currently about 630 kilometres northeast of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The Protecteur is waiting for a tugboat to arrive from Hawaii, sources tell CBC News. The sea is described as "rough" with waves two to three metres in height.

U.S. navy sending assistance

The  U.S. navy has sent the destroyer USS Michael Murphy to provide assistance to the Protecteur.

In the meantime, Protecteur personnel are conducting a full damage assessment.

In addition to the 279 crew members, there are 17 family members and two civilian contractors on board.

The navy says having family members on board for the last part of a sail is a common practice with Royal Canadian Navy ships returning from extended operations and exercises.

Sources say the ship will have to be repaired in Hawaii, once it's towed back there, before it will be able to come home.

In August, HMCS Protecteur was in a collision with another Canadian warship, HMCS Algonquin, during a tow-approach exercise while en route to Hawaii.

The crash caused the worst damage to the Algonquin but the Protecteur suffered damage to its bow. Both ships were forced to forgo a planned voyage to Australia and return to Esquimalt for repairs.

Protecteur is an auxiliary oil replenishment ship, one of two such vessels in the navy that were launched in 1969.

The military announced after the accident last fall that HMCS Protecteur and its sister ship on the East Coast, the HMCS Preserver, will be retired in 2015.

MAP: HMCS Protecteur 630 km northeast of Pearl Harbour

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