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The MV Zim Kingston is finally gone from the waters off Victoria, B.C. The damaged container ship was anchored there for six weeks after a fire Oct. 23.
The fire happened after the ship had lost 109 containers in rough seas the day before. It took a week to put it out, and many more to come up with a plan for docking and unloading the ship, which was originally destined for Vancouver.
In the end, the Port of Nanaimo arranged to take on the Zim Kingston and its damaged cargo.
The vessel is making the journey Friday, accompanied by two tugboats, a Canadian Coast Guard motor lifeboat, a marine mammal watch vessel, an environmental monitoring vessel and a U.S. Coast Guard vessel for when it transits through American waters.
There are salvage crews on board to monitor the state of the ship as it moves.
Capt. Satinder Singh, vice-president of marine operations and harbour master for the Nanaimo Port Authority, says it's the biggest ship escort he's seen in his 10 years working on the West Coast.
He says it's out of an abundance of caution: "just contingencies, I think, is the reason that this vessel is being escorted with a number of vessels."
Like everywhere, there is a backup at Nanaimo's port due to supply chain congestion — so once it arrives, the vessel will anchor in port until Dec. 9 or 10 when a berth is available at the shipyards at Duke Point. It will then take eight to 12 days to unload the damaged cargo.
The Victoria book publisher, Orca Books, had 15,000 books on the ship. Publisher Andrew Woolridge says it's great news that it's on the move, but in a way, it's too late: "we're sort of moving ahead, assuming that we'll never see the books, because we had to, just to get those books out into the world."
He says he's already ordered replacement copies.
Of the 109 containers that went overboard, only four have been found. Those four, and their contents, washed ashore on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island in the week after the ship first hit trouble. The Canadian Coast Guard believes the other 105 have sunk.
The Coast Guard says 27,360 kilograms of debris has already been recovered, and there are at least five more waste bin's worth of flotsam at Jurassic Point on a remote section of Vancouver Island. It says the ship's owner will continue to monitor for additional debris and asks anyone who spots things that look like they may be from the ship to report to the Coast Guard at 1-800-889-8852.