Navy destroyer set adrift

A navy destroyer moored in Cape Breton has been damaged and was set adrift while under tow after problems arose with repair work carried out at an Ontario dockyard, the military said Thursday.

HMCS Athabaskan drifted for several hours off Scatarie Island on Friday after the tow line broke, said Capt. Doug Kierstead of the Royal Canadian Navy in Halifax.

Kierstead said there is damage to the hull behind the ship's identifying numbers, though he declined to say what the damage was and how it came about.

"At this point all I can say is that we are aware that there is damage visible," Kierstead said in an interview.

He said the vessel was supposed to have undergone a routine refit by the end of November last year and was expected to be capable of sailing after that work was completed at Seaway Marine and Industrial Inc. in Welland, Ont.

But Kierstead said the ship couldn't return to Halifax without assistance due to maintenance delays and other problems.

"The reason why Athabaskan is not returning under her own power is because there have been delays in some of the required maintenance and further unforeseen maintenance required," he said.

He said the ship will remain in Sydney harbour until the hull damage has been assessed and officers determine how to safely return it to Halifax to complete the refit and repair the latest damage.

HMCS Athabaskan was commissioned on Sept. 30, 1972.

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