Missing scallop dragger found off Delaps Cove, N.S., but 5 crew members still missing

The fishing vessel that went missing off the coast of Delaps Cove in southwest Nova Scotia in December has been found. Five of the six crew members who were aboard the boat are still missing.

The Chief William Saulis, a scallop dragger that was based out of Yarmouth, was last heard from early on the morning of Dec. 15, when it was heading toward Digby after a week-long fishing expedition. 

Nova Scotia and British Columbia RCMP underwater recovery teams, assisted by the Canadian Coast Guard and Transportation Safety Board, found the vessel upright 60 metres below the surface, more than two kilometres off the shore of Delaps Cove, on Saturday morning.

The team had targeted an area using side scan sonar and identified an anomaly, according to a news release from the Nova Scotia RCMP on Sunday morning.

A remote-operated underwater vehicle was then used to confirm it was the Chief William Saulis.

The RCMP said because of the depth of the vessel, it cannot be reached by recovery teams. They are determining the next steps to searching the inside of the vessel.

The six men known to have been on board the Chief William Saulis. Top row, from left: Captain Charles Roberts, Aaron Cogswell, Dan Forbes. Bottom row, from left: Eugene Francis, Michael Drake and Leonard Gabriel. (Facebook/CBC)

While five crew members are still missing, the body of one, Michael Drake, was recovered the same evening the ship went down.

The RCMP said the families of the five fishermen — Aaron Cogswell, Leonard Gabriel, Dan Forbes, Eugene Francis and the captain, Charles Roberts — have been notified that the vessel was found.

“We haven’t located any of the bodies outside of the water and the shoreline. So now, of course, everyone is hoping that the five missing men are still in the boat,” Nova Scotia RCMP Sgt. Andrew Joyce said Sunday.

A body was located along the shoreline in the area on Friday afternoon, but the person has not been identified. Joyce said Sunday the RCMP do not believe the body found is a missing crew member.

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