LA SCIE -
Crew members of the Ocean Commander, based in La Scie, are happy to be home safely after the vessel caught fire approximately 2 a.m. on July 6 and later sank northeast of St. John's.
Luckily all seven crew members were able to get to a life-raft and escape before it sank hundreds of kilometres northeast of St. John's. The crew was also fortunate a Canadian Coast Guard ship, The Hudson, was nearby and was able to take them aboard with the assistance of three other fishing vessels in the area. Skipper Gerald Foss said the weather was favourable, but foggy as they waited for help to arrive. "We were heading for Bonavista, for the fishing grounds," said Mr. Foss. "So two men were on watch at the time the fire took place because we were just steaming."
The 13-metre Ocean Commander and its crew were fishing for turbot the last five days before fire engulfed the vessel. The cause of the fire is still unknown, however Captain Foss said it started in the engine room.
"We never had time to get down there to check anything or to attempt to put it out, but we are confident that's where it started," he said.
Ocean Commander crew member Randy Budgell, a diabetic, was delivered insulin by the Sir Wilfred Grenfell Coast Guard ship after The Hudson rescued the crew from their life-raft. All crew were then transported to St. John's aboard the Sir Wilfred Grenfell to allow The Hudson to continue its research.
Upon arriving in St. John's, crew members were greeted with hugs and kisses from family members at the Canadian Coast Guard base in St. John's. An overnight stay and a drive the next day had crew members back safe and sound at home in La Scie.
"It feels really good to be back home," said Mr. Foss. "It really does."
It will now be up to the Transportation Safety Board to decide whether to do an investigation into the fire.