Protecteur’s future unknown

Esquimalt-based supply ship limps back to Pearl Harbor after devastating fire

Navy officials are assessing the extent of damage to HMCS Protecteur after the ship was finally set to arrive back at Pearl Harbor Thursday morning.

USNS Sioux, a U.S. fleet ocean tug, laboured for days in rough conditions to pull Protecteur and her 279 crew more than 600 kilometres back to the coast of Hawaii after Protecteur suffered an engine room fire Feb. 27.

On Tuesday, 17 family members who had been aboard Protecteur were flown to Victoria International Airport, where navy officials arranged for travel home and accommodations, said Capt. Trevor Reid.

“Once Protecteur is back in Pearl Harbor, we will be commencing a detailed damage assessment along with an investigation into the cause of the fire,” Reid said.

The Royal Canadian Navy’s two supply ships, Protecteur and HMCS Preserver, are scheduled to retire in 2016 and won’t be replaced until at least 2019. Navy officials will assess whether Protecteur will return to duty at all once a full report on the ship is completed, Reid said.