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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

4 Fishermen Die While Canadian Officials Party On

Just over one month ago, on September 12 to be exact, the fishing vessel Melina and Keith II capsized off the coast of Newfoundland. The eight crew members were tossed into the unforgiving Atlantic Ocean. After hours in the water, four of those poor men succumbed to the cold waters and perished.

On that fateful evening, 1 hour and 55 minutes after the vessel was located, a National Defence helicopter took off from Gander. It took over 3 hours to arrive on scene. The rescue helicopter was later followed by the Coast Guard ship Leonard J. Cowley nearly 10 hours after the initial incident took place.

According to recent reports, one survivor has said that at least one or possibly even two of those men could have been saved, if only response time had been faster.

After the vessel capsized the men climbed aboard the bottom of the overturned fishing boat until it sank, a full two hours later. With no help in sight, the crew then courageously held onto a small aluminum boat that bobbed to the surface. Unfortunately for four of those men, they could not hold on long enough in the frigid North Atlantic waters for help to arrive.

According to a recent article published in the newspaper The Independent, “Phillip McDonald, a survivor of the sinking, says he’s haunted by the certainty a faster response — even by 20 minutes — would have saved at least one of the four men who died. McDonald — the fisheries observer aboard the boat — points blame at federal maritime search and rescue policy.

According to that policy, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., National Defence’s maritime search and rescue helicopter must be airborne within 30 minutes of receiving orders. After 4 p.m., the crew is on a two-hour standby.”

Unfortunately, this sad incident took place after 4pm.

It’s a sad statement, but it's things like the recent revelations that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has racked up a whopping $42 million dollars in travel and entertainment expenses that are a big part of the reason these men died so needlessly.

While a useless government agency like DFO, which has been the target of multiple requests for disbandment or at the very least a major overhaul, has been living it up at tax payer expense, Military and Coast Guard budgets have been cut to the bone. One has to ask why Coast Guard vessels are tied up to ports because they can’t afford fuel or why a policy is in place that has rescue crews on 2 hours standby after 4pm.

Two minutes is a long time to wait in the harsh North Atlantic let alone 2, 3, 4 or even 10 hours. In fact, in the case of the Melina and Keith II nobody would have survived at all if it hadn’t been for another commercial vessel in the area.

Canadians are by nature a quiet, friendly people and none more so than Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans, but there is a limit to what anyone should have to put up with.

We have witnessed DFO mismanage both salt water and fresh water fisheries to near extinction levels from one end of this Country to the other. We have witnessed federal leaders break promise after promise after promise and in recent months we have witnessed corruption and misappropriation of tax dollars as has never before been seen in this Country. Now, after all of this, we see a government that truly has the blood of innocent Canadian citizens on its hands.

Millions exist in government to be given to political cronies. Millions exist to be squandered on first class flights and extravagant, illegitimate expenses. Millions exist for political leaders to vote themselves fat raises and provide golden parachutes to disgraced officials, yet fishermen are allowed to suffer unimaginably before drowning off our coast. All because no money exists to provide 24 hour, immediate response rescue services.

How many more innocent people need to die so we can continue to support this self imposed, self serving monarchy?

I hope Paul Martin, Geoff Regan and every other decision maker in Ottawa sleeps well tonight knowing full well that the deaths of these poor men and the bleak future of their families can be directly attributed to their callous and uncaring actions.

You can wash your hands all you like. The blood doesn't go away.


MrChills said...

I don’t in anyway want to discredit what everyone has been saying the media about the total mismanagement of our rescue services in the Island. I am appalled and completely disgusted as to how it could take so long to get someone out there, and if it makes things any harder to swallow for me, I actually grew up in the area and know the people that did drowned, if only by association.

The one thing that has been downplayed has been why did the boat sink in the first place? Apparently the seas were calm and the boat capsized without any fair warning. Is this a matter that the Government is practically giving quotas to anyone that is willing to go out on the Ocean in any sort of vessel fit for the sea or not?

Patriot said...

To mrchills:

It's an interesting point you raise about why the vessel capsized in the first place. You also say that you know the people who drowned.

If you have any evidence on what happened or if you can show that this boat should not have been given a quota for any reason, I would be more than happy to hear it.

You can contact me at my email address if you have anything, otherwise thanks for the comment and it does make one wonder why this tragedy happened in the first place.

BNB said...

This is a terrible example of how Newfoundlanders and Labradorians fall prey to Federal Government calleous disregard. mrchills makes a good point about the type of vessel. Any commercial wharf in Newfoundland has those short-fat high off the water ships. Like the Ryan's Commander, all too near in our memory. These are vessels created to be in keeping with DFO restriction on length. In order to maximize the capacity of the Hull the vessel's design is pushed to the limits. The design is not based on safety and sea-worthyiness but instead my some federal pencil pushers idea of how to manage the fishery. It's sickening.

MrChills said...

To be more specific I spent half my life in Glovertown, which is about 15Km away from the Eastport area where the majority of these fisherman are from. I have relatives that fish in Glovertown and Eastport that no doubt know these people very well.

I am not trying to stir controversy, but I would not be surprised if a lot of the longliners that are out on the water are not fit to be out there. I would like to be home and talk to a few of the locals in the area that I am close with to get their opinion on what happened. Perhaps DFO has passed them and allows them out there in a make work project sort of mentality to please the locals, while disregarding the safety of the people.

BNB, elaborated a little more on my point, in that most of this is politically motivated. Ottawa is mismanaging the Crab fishery in the same manner they mismanaged the Cod and I think we can all agree to where that is going to land us. You think things are bad now outside the overpass, just wait until we have sucked the North Atlantic dry of Crab and Shrimp.

All this aside, it still does not warrant the lack of response from the rescue units. People can argue till they turn blue in the face about why the boat went down. But if the sea was calm when they went down or if there was a 50 foot swell that capsized the vessel, at the end of the day a federal / provincial response was not there.

NL-ExPatriate said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

4 down...

NL-ExPatriate said...

Yep and your anonymous title shows your back bone. Also highlights your arguements as being unjust and self serving!

You wonder why 911 happened.

NL-ExPatriate said...

Cormorant Aircraft Description

278 km/hr

1,018 km

The Agusta-Westland CH-149 Cormorant, is a fully certified off-the-shelf civilian utility helicopter. It has been modified from the military specifications of the EH-101 to include search and rescue-specific equipment and physical characteristics and performance requirements to meet Canada’s SAR responsibilities. This modification provided reduced procurement costs, a rear-fuselage ramp, a single rescue door with both hoists on one side, and eliminated unnecessary military equipment.

Shaped rotor blades, strengthened by titanium strips along the leading edge, allow the CH-149 to improve lift and increase speed, lowering the stall speed and reducing vibration. This enables it to withstand high winds (exceeding 50 knots), provide superior gust response while carrying out routine tasks of hoisting, starting and stopping.

22.8 m


6.5 m

14 600 kg (maximum take-off)

Three General Electric T700-T6A1 Turbines. Able to have a maximum take-off weight of 14,600 kg and enough reserve power to safely operate while using only two engines.

Snow and ice capabilities permit the aircraft to fly in climates from –45 to +50 degrees Celsius with up to 175 millimetres of ice accretion.

Ample cabin space with rear-ramp access can accommodate 12 stretchers or load equivalent to 5,000 kilograms. On-board active vibration controller minimizes internal vibration level.

Year(s) procured
2001 to 2003

Quantity in CF


9 Wing Gander, Nfld. 8 Wing Trenton, Ont. 19 Wing Comox, B.C. 14 Wing Greenwood, N.S.

NL-ExPatriate said...

There was another one by Ryan Cleary If I remember correctly but I can't seem to find it? Was the best and most informative of them all IMHO.

"An emergency beacon went out at 3:18 p.m. and a Department of Defence Cormorant helicopter was dispatched from Gander at 5:35 p.m."

2 hrs 17 minutes? Dispatched or airborn? Airborn is the 2 hour time limit.

roughly 300km from Gander as the crow flies. 150km from Gander to Cape Bonavista. Sank 160 km from Cape Bonavista.

"It took the National Defence Cormorant helicopter operating out of Gander�s 103 Search and Rescue Squadron approximately 3 hours and 8 minutes after the capsized vessel was located to arrive on scene."

"Forty minutes later, at approximately 4:15, officials had the position of the boat, relayed by the international satellite system. At 6:10 p.m., the Cormorant helicopter took off from Gander. At 7:23, the helicopter arrived on scene."

Cormorants top speed 278km. Little over 1 hour travel time.

Time line
3:18pm first beacon signal(3:30, 3:36)

57 minutes to triangulate?
57 minutes before SAR called?
2hrs 52 min SAR lift off init signal?

4:15pm Triangulated exact loc via sat

Sar called
1 hr 55 min SAR lifts off with tri loc

6:10pm cormorant lifts off
Approx 310km at 278 km/hr sounds ok.
7:23pm Cormorant arrives on scene

(3:18pm, 3:30pm, or 3:36:)alot of confusion here three different first signal timings?

Also they use the word approximately 4:15pm to describe the pinpointing triangulation by a satelite. Now satelites don't approximate they are cut and dry 4:15pm thats it!

To explain triangulation a bit.
Take a pencil and draw a line now that signal could be coming from anywhere on that line within reason lets say a 300 km line?
Now draw a second line where these two lines cross is an approximate location good to within 100 to 500 metres?
The third line is just insurance and pinpoints the location to within 1 to 10 metres?

This is all relative to which method your using to establish the berings or lines. IE Compass map, GPS, Satellite.

My point is the first line would have been enough to give SAR the general direction and get going. With updates as they were on route to the exact location.

Something stinks to high heaven here?
The first beacon would have told SAR to get ready and the general direction to head. Let me guess it wasn't towards PEI.

Not to mention all of these round numbers for the first signal and pinpointing makes me curious? Things don't happen on the 15 or 30 of the hour its just one of those human slips when people are

Dang was trying to edit post to reflect this latest news article by CBC in which beacon was first picked up at 3:18pm not 3:30pm or 3:36pm as was in the Independants article. But lost original comment.

Patriot said...

Hi folks,

Just thought I'd share the following with you. At least one of our MPs responded to this article with something more than a form letter.

Email Content:

Dear Mr. Higgins:

Thank you for sending me a copy of your recent email.

What can I say? You hit the nail right on the head. The Government could not answer my questions on this issue. Hopefully the pressure and the shame will result in improvements which will prevent further occurrences like this.

All the best,

Loyola Hearn, M.P.
St. John's South-Mount Pearl

christian cote said...

hope u don't mind this being posted....i thot this might be of interest to people who have made comments on the sinking of the melina and keith ll.....

Full Report to air on CBC Country Canada this Sunday November 27

A CBC News Country Canada investigation has uncovered serious problems with a search and rescue conducted by the Canadian Coast Guard last September.

On September 12th the fishing vessel Melina and Keith II sank 130 kilometres off the coast of Newfoundland. Four of eight crew members drowned while waiting to be rescued.

CBC Country Canada’s investigation discovered the Coast Guard had access to information from a global positioning device that could have given it a
precise location of the Melina and Keith ll within moments of the ship issuing a distress signal. But that information was not checked for close to an hour after the ship’s distress signal was issued.

“Probably it was a mistake, yes, and that will come out in the Search and Rescue operations report,” admitted Coast Guard Superintendent Brian Stone in
an interview with Country Canada’s Reg Sherren.

The Coast Guard also admits it had access to that GPS information - known as a Vessel Monitoring System - before the Gander-based Cormorant helicopter rescue crew finished its shift for the day. No Coast Guard rescue can begin until a position is confirmed. In the case of the Melina and Keith ll the Gander crew
was only called in after the VMS was finally checked.

Now questions are being raised about how this delay impacted on the Coast Guard’s ability to save lives. The sinking of the Melina and Keith ll is the subject of at least four separate investigations, including one by the RCMP.

Of the four men who drowned, only one body has been recovered.

“They can’t change what happened that day but they can change the system” says one of the survivors, 17 year old Bernard Dyke.

Watch the full Country Canada report this Sunday November 27 at noon on CBC Televsion/12:30 in Newfoundland.

For further information go to www.cbc.ca/countrycanada

chop.cg said...

hey guy's it good to know that there are people from all around that are mad about this topic just as well as i am after hearing the show yesterday i was pretty angry. It just makes me mad to know that the four men that didn't make it could have especally from one of those men was one of my good buddy's and and boyfriend of my girlfriends best friend. I hope that they finally discover what happend forsure and i hope that hole bloody goverment comes crashing down for this because it just isn't right. It hurts to know that wile my friend was out there fighting for his life those men at the coast guard were just sitting back worring about what time they were getting home. I hope to see that there is going to be something done and that this doesn't just let go.

lacey said...

My name is Lacey Power. On set.12 My uncle anthony was one of the four men lost at sea when the Melina & keith 2 capsized in to the frigid atlantic. For 5 years since I lost my own father to a cancer battle, Myself an my mom have always transported anthony when it was time to sail. We would drive him to what ever port he was leaving from, port da grave, st.john`s, cbs wherever. we would dive back an he would call us a day in advance to let us know when he would be landing so we can be there to pick him up an greet him! I would always climb aboard the boat an check it out while watchin him unload. One particular time i came around the harbour with him an it was my first time on a boat an the last! he loved to fish! But everytime he landed he was so excited to see nanny an nolan his little boy! This last year he would of turned 40 on sept. 9 th an his young boy nolan was excited because they were on their steam in so that ment his daddy wa on his way home!unfortunetly this time excitement got the best of not only nolan but our whole family! Anthony would not return home not today, not tomorrow, Not Never! I live in albert an the news urterly shocked me i was in shock, there`s no way He died he too much to live for, he was young handsome man who had lots of life and fishing ahead of him an he knew it and was game! But Now because of a PROFESSIONALS mistake we will never watch him sail off to the sea or sail into home, we won`t see him live a happy life with his son an his son will never find anything to fill the emptiness that was taken from him on sept.12! I am infurious with why people have still not come up with answears, why nothing has been said about why professional search and rescue officers for some reason took oover an hour maybe god knows how much more long to respond to the distress singel! why don`t we just give them a raise an a blanket an let those TRAINED PROFESSIONALS Sit on their buts an sleep untill the end of their shift. Is that the way search an rescue wants their reputation? well It`s too late for that! I hope that those guys who anxiously awaited the end of their shit remembers that not only are lives lost but the ones left behind are lost for ever aswell! This is`nt over not nowhere near! But when ever someone feels like a mistake was made on thier behalf, Think about a 10 year old boy sitting on his Dad`s made up bed left just the way his dad left it, crying his little heart out to his grandmother wondering why he Dad was will never return home! Maybe just maybe then you feel mature an responsible for your actions. If shifts are too long or you can`t handel the hard work why is the goverment putting Irresponsible People in cahrge of savin lives? my conclusion: Mcdonalds is always hirling 8 hour shifts, take those who can`t handel a serious job an let trained professionals who care an are determined to save a life, an who takes thier job seriously. Thoes who think it`s just a pycheck an just a job! You are a descrace to the island an to the families! Iàm so glad to see soo many people respond because to me if it were left up to search an rescue they would just cover their tracts untill another boat an lives are lost an do the same! Get serious! These are confidant,strong and brave men to got o sea to make a living! It`s your turn, stand up an take pride in your work like a fisherman would do, be brave an show your true colours! The saddest thing is those 4 men held on to life my little or nothing with one hting keeping them going `that help was on the way`But guess what It really was`nt! They put their life an faith into s&r hands an trusted them to save them! the end result- 4 drowned 4 saved to tell the horrible story! an have night mares for the rest of their lives knowing how easily they could of been one of the 4 that did`nt make it! i think thats who you owe an explanation too! If someone did`nt slack off 4 barve and strong men would be here today to tell the tale of their close call but not 4 men are left to tell 4other men`s last moments tahts could of been saved easily! I will never forget what these ppl have caused for my family! Nothing will ever be the same ever ever again! I miss him more than words can tell! he was a great man an as for the men who were rescued I pray for you all everynight and thank god that this was`nt a bigger tragedy than it was,if it were into other`s hands it easily could have been!