Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Questions surrounding SAR response to sinking of Atlantic Charger left unanswered
The Newfoundland fishing vessel Atlantic Charger sank off northern Labrador on Sept. 22th. All 9 crewmen were rescued by a factory-freezer trawler after spending almost 11 hours in immersion suits and a life raft, but questions were raised about the response of the military's Gander-based, search and rescue helicopters. The following questions were posed on Sept. 24th to the Canadian Coast Guard, which redirected them to the Canadian Forces. A response was finally received today, Oct. 13.
Questions from MP Cleary's office:
1. Was a search and rescue Cormorant dispatched from Gander to respond to the distress call from the Atlantic Charger?
2. If so, what was the wheels-up time? What time did the SAR helicopter arrive on scene?
3. According to the owner of the Atlantic Charger, his crewmen were told that it would take more than 5 hours to dispatch a Gander-based Cormorant. The owner himself says he was told by SAR officials in Halifax that it would be 10 hours before Cormorant would arrive. What was the reason for the delay?
In answer to your questions about the rescue of the crew of the Atlantic Charger:
A Cormorant helicopter was dispatched from Gander to the distress call. The Cormorant's ETA crew was based on wind conditions at the time, the fact that the location of the vessel in distress was approximately 900nm from Gander, and the need for the Cormorant to make two fuel stops en route.
Additionally, an Aurora crew spotted the life raft from the Atlantic Charger fairly quickly, allowing a Hercules aircraft to drop off supplies, including clothing and food. In this case, a private vessel was tasked to reach the stricken vessel and did so successfully.
Office of the Minister of National Defence and Minister for Multiculturalism