Written by Lisa Wills, VPM volunteer.
The VPD Marine Unit was thrust into the international spotlight recently, with their rescue of a large yellow jellybean from False Creek. Urban pranksters had pushed the candy shaped sculpture into the water but it was easily rescued by the intrepid nautical crew.
Although this may be their “strangest rescue”, it seems as if there is no typical day when working with the Marine Unit. Created in 1911, the purpose of the Unit was to aid in deterrence and apprehension of thefts on boats and from waterfront properties. It was also created to help curtail the growing opium smuggling trade.
Highlights of the Marine Unit’s activities include:
- In 1931 two sacks of firearms and 8 bottles of nitroglycerin are confiscated.
- The training in the “use of self contained underwater breathing apparatus, commonly called skin diving” takes place in 1957.
- Princess Margaret’s yacht is escorted through Howe Sound while she is in BC on vacation in 1958.
- Also in 1958, a span on the new Second Narrows Bridge collapsed and the VPD divers assisted in rescues and recovering bodies.
- In 1963 a fishing boat got caught underneath a barge and the cabin was crushed. Divers from the squad tore the roof apart and were able to rescue the fishermen.
Recovering stolen vessels and enforcing anchoring restrictions is the daily bread and butter of the current outfit, but atypical events are part of a typical day. 2015 was a jam packed year for the marine unit with diverse callouts for things like:
- A grey whale was spotted in English Bay and the unit was called out to disperse a group of boaters who were circling and disturbing the whale.
- Tim Hortons near Canada place was robbed and the perpetrator jumped into the ocean and hid underneath pier causing a stakeout to ensue.
- The unit responded to a fire on a boat in False Creek that may have been a floating meth lab.
Of course the cutest VPD rescue of 2015 goes to the retired seeing eye dog that was rescued from the riptide off of Ambleside in West Vancouver.
Jellybean rescues notwithstanding, 2016 has already been a busy year for the VPD Marine Unit as it deals with:
Boat thefts, submerged vessels, drifting boats and those that have run aground.
Patrolling events like New Years Eve, the Polar Bear Plunge and the 4/20 celebration.
Releasing of seals and being on “Humpback Whale Watch”
You can keep up to date with all the interesting and exciting news from the Marine Unit by following their feed on Twitter – @VPDMarineUnit or https://twitter.com/VPDMarineUnit.
VPD Marine Unit saves giant yellow jellybean in ‘strangest rescue’ yet http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/vpd-marine-unit-save-giant-yellow-jellybean-1.3582212
False Creek boat destroyed in fire contained ‘large number of needles’
Man robs Tim Hortons, jumps into ocean, hides under Canada Place pier, evades capture http://globalnews.ca/news/2080094/man-robs-tim-hortons-jumps-into-ocean-hiding-under-canada-place-pier/