Sunken Ship Deas Slough

Submitted by kathyp on Sat, 07/04/2020 - 02:42
La Belle

During low tide at Deas the remains of a ship are visible. For years I have wondered why or how it ended up there. Yesterday while looking up tides for our Saturday paddle I came across an article regarding the mystery of the sunken ship...Delta Optimist, January 2014 (Jessica Kerr)

The article provided some research done by White Rock's George Duddy, a former civil engineer, who has been spending his retirement years researching the history of old war ships. While he was on the hunt for the remains of Audrey B, his research proved this was not her but was determined to find out the story behind the sunken vessel in the Deas slough. 

"After the war, a lot of the tug boat companies in Vancouver bought war service vessels," he said. Vancouver Tug Boat was one of those companies, purchasing the USS APc-15, which was later renamed La Belle, and seven other vessels. The ships were repurposed into tugs, fish packers and herring seiners. "I think the hulk out there is the last one," Duddy said. It's the La Belle that now sits in Deas Slough.

"Her hulk is all that remains of this class of vessel in Canada," Duddy said. "In the U.S. Navy, these vessels served mostly in the Pacific as coastal transport vessels."

The USS APc-15 earned one battle star for its Second World War service. "It is noted that when this class was created, it incorporated a number of vessels of coastal minesweeper class AMc of similar design... These vessels, at the time, were surplus to the mine sweeper requirements."

The vessel was first registered for post-war service under the name Gulf Trader in 1947. A year later she was renamed La Belle, which stuck until 1962 when the ship was sold to Capital Iron and Metals in Victoria. After the sale, La Belle and four other tugs had their engines removed and the hulls were sold as liveaboards or for conversion to fish boats. In 1963, Duddy said, La Belle was re-registered as an unpowered sailing vessel under the name Black Trader. Over the years, the vessel had a few owners before sinking in the slough after capsizing, Duddy said.

Next time you are out on the Deas slough at low tide make sure you look for the “La Belle”