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PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (AP) — A disabled Canadian navy ship being towed by an American tug after an engine fire has been making good progress toward Pearl Harbor, Canadian naval officials said Wednesday.
Capt. Trevor Reid said the HMCS Protecteur and the ships escorting it are expected to arrive at the Hawaii base Thursday morning. Nearly 300 crew members are on board the disabled refueling vessel.
The ships were traveling in fair weather, Reid said, and were roughly 50 nautical miles northeast of Hawaii at about 10 a.m.
The Protecteur was in the Pacific Ocean north of Hawaii when the fire broke out last week, leaving 20 sailors with minor injuries, according to the Royal Canadian Navy.
A guided-missile destroyer, the USS Michael Murphy, on Tuesday transported 19 family members of the crew from the disabled ship to Pearl Harbor. The relatives 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 destroyer also brought back a Canadian sailor who cut his hand, Cmdr. Al Harrigan of Maritime Forces Pacific Headquarters said.
The Canadian navy said a doctor on board treated sailors suffering from dehydration, exhaustion and smoke inhalation. The cause of the fire was under investigation.
Harrigan said the Canadian ship was on its way home from a three- to four-week deployment.
The effort to tow the 44-year-old vessel initially was complicated by rough seas, which caused the tow line to break Sunday, the Canadian navy said. The USS Sioux, a deep-water ocean tug, took over towing duties for the slow return to Pearl Harbor.
In August, the Protecteur’s front end was damaged in a collision with HMCS Algonquin while en route to Hawaii. The military announced in October that the Protecteur will be retired next year.
Associated Press writer Jennifer Sinco Kelleher in Honolulu contributed to this report. Garcia can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia