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West Shore-based tugs to escort oil tankers through Strait of Juan de Fuca

Vessels will operate out of Sc’ianew First Nation’s Cheanuh Marina at East Sooke
Two tugboats and a supply vessel will be part of East Sooke’s Western Canada Marine Response base. The tugs will escort oil tankers through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. (Contributed - Trans Mountain)

A joint venture between KOTUG Canada and Trans Mountain will soon oversee a fleet of tugboats located at the new oil response base at Beecher Bay, near East Sooke on southern Vancouver Island.

The base is part of a larger $150-million expansion by Western Canada Marine Response Centre into Sidney, Port Alberni, Nanaimo and Ucluelet to meet enhanced spill response requirements with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

Trans Mountain announced Wednesday it signed a 15-year contract with KOTUG Canada to provide escort towage to oil tankers loaded at Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby. The tugs will escort vessels through the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Swiftsure Bank.

Financial terms of the contract were not released.

Under the deal, the two tugboats will operate from Cheanuh Marina, owned by Sc’ianew First Nation (Beecher Bay). KOTUG Canada will train about 15 Indigenous workers to support on-board towage services.

The tugs are 50 metres long with a 9,000-horsepower engine.

Under a separate agreement with Western Canada Marine Response, KOTUG Canada will also operate a large ocean-going response vessel equipped with high-capacity vessel towing capabilities.

“We are proud to be selected as the exclusive provider of escort tug support to Trans Mountain tankers. It is an acknowledgment of the strong heritage, knowledge and innovative culture of the combined companies of KOTUG Canada, who both have impressive track records,” said Ard-Jan Kooren, president and CEO, KOTUG International.

The Sc’ianew First Nation wants to be the centre for research, development and ocean protection, said Chief Russ Chipps.

“We have gone through great lengths, controversy and criticism to protect the ocean. This is just one part of our commitment to our people to do so,” he said.

Construction of the oil response base begins this fall. The vessels are expected to be in place by late 2022.

RELATED: Work to start on new spill response base at Beecher Bay

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Kevin Laird

About the Author: Kevin Laird

It's my passion to contribute to the well-being of the community by connecting people through the power of reliable news and storytelling.
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