The Federal Government has awarded a contract to Atlantic Towing, of New Brunswick, to operate two emergency offshore towing vessels in the waters off the coast of B.C.

The contract was awarded through the Oceans Protection Plan.

The vessels are capable of towing large commercial ships in distress, such as tankers and container ships, before they get too close to shore.

One will patrol a northern area in Canadian waters between Alaska and the northern tip of Vancouver Island, and the other a southern area including the west side of Vancouver Island and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Both vessels will be on-site in late 2018.