Bridgewater’s Derelict Vessels To Make Way For Mixed-Use Development

(Illustration: Carmen Cumming)

Bridgewavians will finally get relief from the eyesores of the derelict vessels Hannah Atlantic, Ryan Atlantic II, and Rupert Brand VI. The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) has entered into a contract for the removal, deconstruction, and disposal of the vessels.

According to an email from the CCG, the contract was awarded to R.J. MacIsaac Construction Ltd. at the beginning of 2024 and onsite operations for removal, which began the first week of June, are expected to take six months. The contract is worth over $3.7 million.

The vessels have posed a threat to the marine environment for over a decade. On March 10, 2014, the CCG received a report that the Cape Rouge (now Ryan Atlantic II), a 120-foot old steel trawler, was sinking by the stern with a 30-degree list to starboard at the wharf in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, and leaking oil.

The ship was featured prominently in the TV show Haven.

The CCG worked with RMI Marine Limited to raise the vessel and pump out thousands of litres of fuel/water mixture. The vessel remained tied up at the Port of Bridgewater since.

Hannah Atlantic was also part of a 2014 CCG led cleanup of bilge sludge, fuel, hydraulic oils and other pollutants from the vessel. The cost of $19,682.37, plus interest for the effort was never successfully recuperated from the vessel owner due to lack of significant financial assets in Nova Scotia.

Under the Marine Liability Act, owners are responsible for the costs of cleanup or repairs, and any remediation action taken by the CCG. Due to privacy concerns, the CCG was unable to give the names of the vessel owners.

A CBC investigation in 2016 found registries that link ownership of the sister ships Hannah Atlantic and Ryan Atlantic II to Wolfville scrap metal dealer Tracy Dodds. Dodds was named in $1.8 million in lawsuits related to vessel cleanups. Dodds passed away in 2022.

The story is familiar to locals, as the ex-Navy ship HMCS Cormorant, which sat derelict for 20 years on the LaHave river, was finally towed away in November 2020, five years after it partially sunk.

United Gulf Developments Ltd. now owns the land and former government wharf where the derelict vessels lie. They hope to develop housing and commercial space on the 2.91 hectare site.

Jacob Ritchie, President of United Gulf, says the openness of the town staff and councillors makes them excited for working on their first project on the South Shore. Once the vessels are removed and an assessment is done, their vision is for “a creative mixed-use residential development integrated with the waterfront amenity like a marina or a boat tie-up or any opportunity really for people to get closer to the water.”


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