Canadian Navy Ship Towed to Hawaii After Fire

HONOLULU -- The U.S. Navy is towing a Canadian navy ship to Hawaii's Pearl Harbor after an engine fire left 20 sailors with minor injuries.

HMCS Protecteur was in the Pacific Ocean north of Hawaii when the fire broke out last week, the Canadian navy said.

The U.S. Navy dispatched guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy to help the disabled vessel, which was carrying nearly 300 people. The Michael Murphy returned to Pearl Harbor on Tuesday carrying 19 family members of the crew who had been traveling with the Protecteur on its return leg to Esquimalt, British Columbia. It's common for family to join crew members returning from long missions.

The Canadian navy said a doctor on board treated sailors suffering from dehydration, exhaustion and smoke inhalation.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

"We signed on for an adventure, and we got one," Arlene Veenhof told reporters after stepping off the destroyer. She said she was playing cards when the lights went off, and she heard a fire alarm a few minutes later. She and other passengers initially thought it was a drill.

Cmdr. Al Harrigan of Maritime Forces Pacific Headquarters said the Canadian ship was a refueling vessel on its way home from a three- to four-week deployment.

The 44-year-old Canadian vessel was being towed to Pearl Harbor and is expected to arrive Thursday. The effort to tow the aging vessel was complicated by rough seas, which caused the tow line to break on Sunday, the Canadian navy said.

"Towing operations are hard enough but you've got these big war ship and they're being tossed around in the water, pushed left, pushed right, up, down, back and forth," said Lt. Cmdr. Desmond James at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, Canada's Pacific Coast naval base.

Deep-water ocean tug USS Sioux took over towing duties for the slow return to Pearl Harbor, James said.

The Protecteur's front end was damaged last August in a collision with HMCS Algonquin while en route to Hawaii. The military announced in October that the Protecteur will be retired next year.

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