January 29, 2019 7:47 am
Updated: January 29, 2019 6:47 pm

Body of crew member recovered after vessel sinks off Halifax, 2 others rescued

WATCH: The search for a missing crew member from a vessel that sank at the mouth of the Halifax harbour has ended Tuesday morning, after a body was recovered inside the sunken vessel. Alexa MacLean has the latest.

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The search for a missing crew member from a vessel that sank at the mouth of the Halifax harbour has ended Tuesday morning, after a body was recovered inside the sunken vessel.

Joint Task Force Atlantic (JTFA) tweeted the update at 11:35 a.m. and said their thoughts were with the crew member’s family, friends and colleagues.

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The search began at 2:15 a.m. when a distress call came in from the 12-metre vessel, which was used for diving operations. Joint Task Force Atlantic says two people were rescued by a local pilot boat, but the third person on board could not be found.

RMI Marine Limited, which is based in Eastern Passage, confirms their vessel, MV Captain Jim, was involved in the incident. In a statement, RMI says the vessel was conducting “routine commercial passenger operations” when an “ingress of water sunk the vessel.”

The company says the vessel was being piloted by a senior captain, while a deckhand and commercial passenger were on board at the time.

“Our vessel was returning to port when the captain called for immediate abandonment after notifying Halifax Traffic and search and rescue. Unfortunately the vessel went down so quickly that only the captain and the passenger made it to the deployed life raft,” the statement reads.

A Hercules and Cormorant helicopter, along with three coast guard vessels, searched the area near Eastern passage overnight. Before daybreak, the Hercules dropped flares to help with visibility.

Maj. Mark Norris, the officer in charge of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC), says conditions were difficult when the distress call came in; it was dark and temperatures were a “big factor.” He added, however, the seas were fairly calm.

“One of the first assets we got on scene was the Halifax pilot boat and they were the vessel that we used to recover the folks from the life raft and they brought them to shore very, very early this morning,” he said.

A Canadian Forces fleet diving unit returned at daylight to look for the sunken vessel.

“The fleet diving unit Atlantic team is in the area we’re trying to locate exactly where the vessel is underwater and get our folks down there,” said Norris.

“We have the team out there this morning and they were able to dive but they were unable to locate the boat, so that’s what we’re focusing on now.”

JTFA says the people who were rescued told them the vessel had lost power, and within 20 minutes, they were taking on water and preparing to abandon the vessel.

The two people who were rescued did not have survival suits on, but were wearing flotation devices and were determined to be in good condition after being checked by staff.

“We sincerely regret the passing of one of our dedicated and loyal employees and he will be missed by his coworkers and friends.  His family has been notified and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very tragic time,” said RMI in their statement.

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB), which has deployed a team of investigators to the area.

RMI notes that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans will take charge of any salvage operations.

–With files from the Canadian Press and Alexa MacLean.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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