One month and a day after the scallop dragger Chief William Saulis went down in the Bay of Fundy on Dec. 15, 2020, the vessel was found using side scan sonar.
Sonar exploration for the Chief William Saulis began on Jan. 4 by the Nova Scotia RCMP Underwater Recovery Team (URT), assisted by members from the RCMP National Underwater Recovery Training Centre (NURTC) in British Columbia. A remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) equipped with a multi-beam sonar was also brought in.
“On Jan. 16, the Nova Scotia RCMP URT and NURTC members, with assistance from the Canadian Coast Guard and Transportation Safety Board, searched a targeted area using side scan sonar and found the Chief William Saulis,” stated a RCMP press release issued Jan. 23.
“The vessel was located upright more than two kilometres from the shore of Delaps Cove at a depth of more than 60 metres, which exceeds the maximum safe diving depth for the RCMP URTs. The URTs were not able to determine whether the fishermen’s remains are on board the vessel given the challenging and demanding conditions.
“The RCMP approached the Canadian Armed Forces to determine whether their divers may be able to assist. Upon conducting a thorough risk analysis, the CAF determined that the risk to the lives of their divers was too significant and unfortunately, were unable to support the request.”
“At this time, the RCMP will be concluding its search activities and supporting investigations by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and the Department of Labour and Advanced Education. RCMP members will continue to provide family members with support and updates. The RCMP recognizes the devastation that this tragedy has had on the men’s families and community members who have all demonstrated remarkable resiliency. We continue to extend sympathies to the family members.”
The Chief William Saulis was returning to its home port in Digby from a fishing trip when the vessel sent out an emergency beacon signal around 5:51 a.m. on Dec. 15 near Delaps Cove.
The five crew who went missing with the vessel were Aaron Cogswell, Leonard Gabriel, Daniel Forbes, Eugene Francis and the boat’s captain, Charles Roberts. The body of crewman Mike Drake was found the night the vessel went down.