POTENTIAL: Tug Jake Shearer SW of Bella Bella

DISCLAIMER: Information provided is based on reports received by Emergency Management B.C. Information provided is considered to be current at the time of posting, but is subject to change as new information becomes available.

Incident Description

Incident Date November 26, 2017 
Name POTENTIAL: Tug Jake Shearer SW of Bella Bella (DGIR 172945)
Source Fuel Barge 
Nearest Community Bella Bella, B.C. 
Spilled Content None at this time
Who is involved? Emergency Management B.C., Canadian Coast Guard, Heiltsuk First Nation, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, B.C. Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Canada, Western Canada Marine Response Corporation, Harley Marine Services Inc., Transport Canada, Environment & Climate Change Canada


Response Phase Detail

The responsible person or spiller is legally required to clean-up or manage the clean-up of a spill. In incidents where the responsible person is unknown, unable or unwilling to manage the clean up, the Ministry of Environment may assume the role. The updates below reflect the Ministry’s oversight of the spillers’ actions; details describe the spill response phase, only, and not the complete lifecycle of the spill. See More Information for other related reports. 

Updates are in reverse chronological order, with the most recent at the top. Industry-specific language may be explained in the Glossary of Terms (PDF).

Most Recent Update

November 30, 2017 - 8:40 am

The divers completed their underwater inspection last night (November 29, 2017) . Classification specialists have also completed their inspections.

The inspections to the Jake Shearer tug revealed three cracks on the port side forward. These cracks were temporarily patched by the divers. Soundings and overnight observations of the affected tanks indicate the patches are holding. 

Transport Canada inspectors are en route to the vessel this morning to review the inspection reports and approve the vessel for transit. A U.S. inspector is en route to complete their inspection and give permission for both vessels to re-enter American waters.

Harley Marine Services is currently working on a tow plan. This plan will be reviewed by Transport Canada before the vessels get underway. 

Correction: The Jake Shearer tug and fuel barge are carrying a combined total of approximately 12.4 million L of gas and diesel fuel. They were originally reported to be carrying approximately 3.5 million L of diesel and 500,000 L of gasoline. These numbers were mistakenly understood as litres instead of gallons. 

No further updates are expected unless the situation deteriorates. 

Jake Shearer tug and fuel barge. Canadian Coast Guard vessel, the Gordon Reid, in the background

(Jake Shearer tug and fuel barge with CCG Gordon Reid - November 29, 2017)

Incident Location


November 29, 2017 - 10:45 am

The Jake Shearer tug and barge remain in the designated place of refuge with no indications of fuel release from either. The tug remains boomed as a precautionary measure.

Transport Canada inspectors arrived yesterday afternoon, after a weather delay, and were able to begin their inspection. A representative of the responsible person, Harley Marine Services, and a representative of the Heiltsuk Nation observed the inspection. 

Transport Canada completed their inspection of the Jake Shearer tug and barge overnight. Before the tug and barge can transit out of the place of refuge, two additional assessments are required. Inspectors specializing in this particular type of vessel must conduct a secondary assessment. Divers must also complete an underwater assessment. The divers and classification specialists are expected to arrive today. 

The Canadian Coast Guard vessel, the Gordon Reid, remains on site and will continue to monitor. Western Canada Marine Response Corporation's vessel, the Eagle Bay, is also monitoring the incident. 

Jake Shearer and fuel barge anchored in Norman Morrison Bay(Jake Shearer tug and fuel barge anchored in Norman Morrison Bay. November 28, 2017)

November 28, 2017 - 11:07 am

Last night the fuel barge was anchored in Norman Morrison Bay, the designated place of refuge. The Jake Shearer tug is tied to the barge and has protective boom installed as a precautionary measure. There continued to be no indications of a fuel release from the tug or barge. Harley Marine divers are expected to arrive today along with Transport Canada inspectors.

Gordon Reid (Canadian Coast Guard vessel) stood by in Seaforth Channel last night and continues to monitor nearby. 

The Environmental Unit is working on a resources-at-risk analysis for Norman Morrison Bay. The Environmental Unit, managed out of the Incident Command Post in Port Hardy, is composed of the following partners: Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), Environment & Climate Change Canada (ECCC), Heiltsuk First Nation and B.C. Ministry of Environment.

An Environmental Emergency Response Officer (EERO) and a Canadian Coast Guard representative are expected to arrive in Bella Bella today to maintain open communication with the Heiltsuk First Nation and ensure any community concerns are addressed. 

November 27, 2017 - 5:30 pm

Due to poor weather conditions, the Gulf Cajun tug and the fuel barge have turned north, away from the original designated place of refuge. Federal agencies, Harley Marine Services Inc., and the Heiltsuk Nation discussed options, and a new place of refuge was chosen.

The barge is now en route through Seaforth Channel to Norman Morrison Bay, which is located at the north end of Campbell Island. The Gordon Reid, a Canadian Coast Guard vessel, continues to escort the tug and barge. At this time, there are no visible signs of fuel release from either the Jake Shearer tug or its fuel barge which is now being towed by the Gulf Cajun. The tow is going well and the vessels are approximately 1.5 hours from anchoring. 

The Incident Command Post (ICP) is operational in Port Hardy, B.C. The ICP is operating under a unified command structure with representatives from B.C. Ministry of Environment, Canadian Coast Guard, Heiltsuk Nation, and Harley Marine Services Inc. Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) also has resources present. Command will transfer to the ICP in Port Hardy tomorrow. 

An Environmental Emergency Response Officer (EERO) was onboard during Canadian Coast Guard’s incident overflight today. No sheen or product was observed in the water around the barge, the tug or at the barge’s previous location. B.C. Ministry of Environment is currently developing a resources at risk analysis for Norman Morrison Bay with assistance from partner agencies, including Environment Canada and the Heiltsuk First Nation. 

Heiltsuk representatives are participating in overflights, have a representative in unified command at the ICP in Port Hardy, and are positioning a representative on board the Gordon Reid. Harley Marine Services Inc. is moving pollution control resources into the area of Norman Morrison Bay as a precautionary measure. WCMRC's Eagle Bay vessel is also en route to Norman Morrison Bay.

The next update will be provided as soon as new information is available. 

Jake Shearer: the tug that was disconnected from it's fuel barge

(The Jake Shearer tug - November 27, 2017. Photo courtesy of Bella Bella Airport)

November 27, 2017 - 10:50 am

The rescue tug, Gulf Cajun, has established a tow line with the fuel barge that disconnected from the Jake Shearer tug yesterday. Canadian Coast Guard vessel, Gordon Reid, is escorting the two vessels to a safe place of refuge, designated by Transport Canada. 

An Environmental Emergency Response Officer (EERO) has joined the Canadian Coast Guard for a helicopter overflight of the tug and barge this morning. The overflight is planned to include a representative from the Heiltsuk First Nation. 

Transport Canada's National Aerial Surveillance Program (NASP) plane will also conduct an overflight of the Gulf Cajun tug and the fuel barge. Harley Marine Services Inc., owner of the Jake Shearer, has sent an additional tug north to assist. There have been no reports of any spilled product at this time. 


November 27, 2017 - 8:53 am

A rescue tug, the Gulf Cajun, is currently at the incident site attempting to attach tow lines to the Jake Shearer's disconnected fuel barge. An emergency tow line has been established, however, the fuel barge anchor remains in place.

Harley Marine Services Inc., owner of the Jake Shearer, has sent an additional tug north to assist. The two crew members from the Jake Shearer tug remain on board the tug's disconnected fuel barge as they are required for the tow line hook up and anchor recovery. They are safe and have shelter, food and necessary survival equipment.

The Canadian Coast Guard vessel, the Gordon Reid, continues to remain on site. Additional Canadian Coast Guard and Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) resources are deploying to staging areas near the incident site. The National Area Surveillance Program (NASP) plane is deploying from Vancouver this morning to perform an aerial surveillance of the incident site. 

An Environmental Emergency Response Officer (EERO) with B.C. Ministry of Environment has been deployed to the incident command post. B.C. Ministry of Environment has also notified it's incident command team and is planning to cascade additional resources if the need arises. 

Further updates will be provided as soon as new information becomes available. 


November 27, 2017 - 12:10 am

The Jake Shearer's fuel barge continues to be anchored with no indication of any fuel release. The Canadian Coast Guard remains on scene with the Gordon Reid and is sending additional resources to the incident. B.C. Ministry of Environment is deploying response officers to Port Hardy and Bella Bella at first light. 

Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) has been activated by the owner of the Jake Shearer. WCMRC is deploying vessels to be staged near the incident site as a precautionary measure at this time. 

The owner of the Jake Shearer is sending a representative from Seattle to the Incident Command Post.


November 26, 2017 - 9:05 pm

The Jake Shearer, an articulated tug, became disconnected from its fuel barge during bad weather on the north coast near Goose Island (25 nautical miles southwest of Bella Bella, B.C.). The barge was northbound on its way to Alaska with a full load and is reported to be carrying approximately 3.5 million L of diesel and 500,000 L of gasoline. There are no indications of a release at this time.

Two crew members on board the barge were able to drop an anchor, which appears to be holding the barge stationary at this time. The Canadian Coast Guard vessel, Gordon Reid, has arrived at the incident site to provide assistance. A commercial tug is en route to provide assistance. 

B.C. Ministry of Environment has activated the Ministry Emergency Operations Centre and has placed response officers on standby for deployment. The B.C. Ministry of Environment and Canadian Coast Guard have reached out to the Heiltsuk Nation and will continue to provide them with regular updates. 

The next update will be provided as soon as new information is available.