National Museums NI is supporting the Canadian Coast Guard as it looks to stem leaking oil from a decades-old shipwreck off the coast of British Columbia’s Bligh Island.
The 483-foot cargo ship, the M/V Schiedyk, was built in Belfast in 1949 for Holland-America Line. Originally a steamship it was rebuilt in the 1960’s to its oil-fuelled form.
It sunk in January of 1968 after hitting an underwater ledge that breached its hull. While the crew members abandoned the ship safely and reported oil on the water at the time, it wasn’t clear how much of the ship’s fuel had escaped.
In December oil was spotted on the water’s surface, and since then attention has turned to securing the shipwreck, which lies 400 feet underwater, to prevent further damage to the surrounding environment.
National Museums NI is playing a key role supporting the Canadian Coast Guard by sharing crucial items from its collections including ship plans and images to help build a clear picture of the type of oil used and the location and capacity of its fuel tanks.
William Blair, Director of Collections, for National Museums NI said: “We are doing all we can to support the Canadian Coast Guard in this operation. We are delighted that our collections are of use in uncovering information on the M/V Schiedyk and other ships in its class, such as its sister.
“The need for our support in this operation reaffirms the important role National Museums NI has when it comes to collecting and storing archives for research and reference purposes as the value of our research collections lies outside the more commonly understood realm of public display.
“We will continue to support the Canadian Coast Guard to help protect and preserve the area of environmental significance and look forward to supporting other organisations as we need to into the future.”
The information supplied by National Museums NI will help inform the long-term strategies and tactics that will contain the shipwreck and protect the waters which are a popular destination for anglers, boaters and kayakers.