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Updated: Mon, 03 Mar 2014 12:53:52 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

HMCS Protecteur under tow again to Hawaii



Canadian Armed Forces

Canadian Armed Forces

HMCS Protecteur is once again on its way to Hawaii this morning, after fire broke out in the engine room last Thursday night, disabling the navy supply ship based out of Esquimalt, B.C.

Over the weekend the U.S. navy cruiser USS Chosin began towing the Canadian navy ship toward port in Hawaii, but on Sunday the tow line broke.The tow line has now been reattached to the U.S. fleet ocean tug USNS Sioux and is expected in Hawaii by the end of the week.

Maritime Forces Pacific spokesman Lieut.-Cmdr Desmond James said towing a navy ship in the open ocean is not a simple task.

"In the conditions out there, towing is a very, very challenging operation and it doesn't always go as smoothly, and that's why the navy practices this type of situation all the time," said James.

He said the navy is making sure family members are informed about all new developments.

"The families are well in the loop, so they are getting a daily briefing by senior staff from the military family resource centre."

A plan is still being worked out for what happens when the ship and crew arrive in Hawaii.

Family members on board

About 20 people suffered minor injuries, including dehydration, exhaustion and smoke inhalation when fire broke out in the engine room Thursday around 10:20 p.m. PT as the Protecteur was returning from operational duties with about 300 on board.

The Protecteur, launched in 1969, is one of two auxiliary oil replenishment ships in the Canadian navy. It left B.C. on Jan. 6 with HMCS Regina.

It was carrying 279 crew, 17 family members and two civilian contractors. The vessel was returning to B.C. from extended operations with the U.S. navy in the mid-Pacific.

The Canadian Department of National Defence said earlier that having family members on board for the final part of such a voyage is a common practice with navy ships returning from extended operations and exercises.

The military announced in October that HMCS Protecteur and its sister supply ship on the East Coast, HMCS Preserver, will be retired in 2015.

Construction of new supply ships is expected to begin in late 2016, with a target of having them in service by 2019-20.

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