The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax said the 180-metre bulk carrier MV John 1 ran aground Saturday afternoon about 1.5 kilometres from Rose Blanche, but all 23 people onboard were rescued safely.
The Canadian Coast Guard said the vessel was en route to Montreal from Spain when its engine failed and it lost power Friday morning.
Spokeswoman Jan Woodford said the vessel was not in danger, so it hired a tugboat from Mulgrave, N.S., to help. The coast guard vessel Earl Grey was also called to the area, she said.
Overnight, winds shifted and the cargo ship began drifting dangerously close the coastline, said Woodford.
"The CCGS Earl Grey attempted several times to connect a tow line to the vessel to prevent it from running aground," Woodford said in an email statement. "These attempts were unsuccessful."
A Cormorant helicopter from Gander was flown to Stephenville, N.L., about 200 kilometres north of Rose Blanche, as a precaution. Another Cormorant from Greenwood, N.S., was also standing by.
When the ship ran aground, all 23 people were hoisted into a helicopter and brought to Burgeo, N.L. No one was injured.
A spokesman for the rescue centre said there was no indication that the ship was taking on water.
Woodford said a federal environmental response crew was headed to the area to investigate.