The 483-foot MV Schiedyk cargo ship went down on Jan. 3, 1968 after striking a submerged ledge off Bligh Island, and rests about 350 feet below the surface. It has been leaking fuel and fouling areas of the Zuciarte Channel since last fall.
The assessment of the MV Schiedyk found two tanks containing heavy fuel oil — one with marine diesel oil and the other containing mixed oil products.
The amount of fuel was estimated to be about 147 cubic metres, based on the total volume of the tanks, but that amount may be less if the internal tank walls have been compressed, according to government officials.
In a statement, the federal government said the hot-tap method has been used successfully on shipwrecks for many years, including in the Manolis L in Atlantic Canada in 2018. There is, however, a “small risk” of a larger release of oil.
Canadian Coast Guard environmental response crews are prepared to address any sudden surge of fuel.
Government officials said recent results of a technical assessment determined that immediate action to remove bulk fuel was necessary to protect Nootka Sound, an area rich in natural beauty and in the traditional territory of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation. The federal government signed an emergency contract to pump bunker oil and mixed fuels from the sunken wreck in Nootka Sound.
Florida-based Resolve Marine Group, which has worked on multiple wrecks and cleanups — including the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico — was contracted to assess the MV Schiedyk and pump out its fuel tanks.
Bridemans Marine Transport’s BridgeCat 45 and crew were enlisted to provide safe transport of marine personnel to and from the Atlantic Condor which served as the ROV operations platform, essentially the eyes of the assessment.
Personnel transport vessels perform an essential service for clients requiring quick, safe and reliable shuttling between land and/or floating assets for their employees and contractors.