Border security takes close look at cargo ship in Nanaimo harbour

Heavy lift cargo vessel escorted into harbour by RCMP and U.S. Coast Guard, then searched

A cargo vessel carrying a load of yachts into Canadian waters was escorted into Nanaimo Harbour by the RCMP and the U.S. Coast Guard last week.

The Happy Dover arrived at about 6:30 p.m. June 28 when it was met by a contingent of RCMP and Canadian Border Security Agency officers.

“When I looked out my window, I saw the Happy Dover coming in and the escort by two police boats and a coast guard ship,” said Wouter Bouman, whose home on Cameron Island overlooks the harbour.

Bouman said it appeared dock workers were sent away by law enforcement officers who searched the ship and a large yacht on its deck until at least 1 a.m. Thursday.

The RCMP had not commented by press time Wednesday about what prompted the action or what was found, nor has the U.S. Coast Guard responded to a query by the News Bulletin.

“The Canada Border Services Agency can confirm it conducted an examination of a vessel on the afternoon of June 29, 2017,” said Kathy Liu, CBSA spokeswoman, in an e-mail. “The CBSA routinely conducts vessel searches – it is a regular part of officer duties.”

Bernie Dumas, Nanaimo Port Authority president and CEO, said in an e-mail the port was notified just prior to the vessel’s arrival.

“Our harbour master offered assistance and entry into the terminal,” Dumas said. “The RCMP/CBSA tactical group boarded the ship. Next morning they continued to inspect the ship but allowed the yachts (cargo) to commence discharging so the ship’s performance was not stopped … The Port’s security partners do inspections of ships on a regular basis in our harbour. This particular vessel was noticed by the public.”

Edward Dahlgren, NPA director of operations and harbour master, said in an e-mail that cargo operations were briefly suspended during the June 28 evening shift to support the police action, but normal operations resumed Thursday and continued until vessel completed unloading and reloading operations on Friday “without incident.”

Bouman said he saw the ship unload one large yacht and about 10 smaller ones.

The Happy Dover is part of a fleet of Happy-D type ships, owned by Amsterdam-based Big Lift Shipping, is designed to load, transport and unload large, heavy cargo such as small ships.

The Happy Dover sailed from Nanaimo at 10 p.m. Friday and is bound for China.

Nanaimo News Bulletin