Ready for the wreckers

Brodie Thomas
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Former Marine Atlantic ferries the MV Joseph and Clara Smallwood and the MV Caribou sit beached in Alang, India. — Photo copyright

The Caribou and the Smallwood have arrived at their final destination.

The two superferries were often parked side-by-side at the Marine Atlantic terminals in Port aux Basques and North Sydney.

Now they are side-by-side on the beach at Alang, India. Ships brought to Alang are dismantled for scrap metal and parts.

Alang has a reputation for practices that are environmentally unsound because shipbreaking is done on the beach instead of in a drydock where spills can be contained. Worker safety has also been questioned.

The 2004 National Film Board documentary “Shipbreakers” documents the living conditions of the workers.

A photo of the ships was obtained by blogger Peter Knego. He said the two ferries were beached on Oct. 17 and 19.

Knego received the photo from a photographer at Alang who wishes to remain anonymous.

“Both vessels are far out on the embankment and will need to be dragged ashore before stripping and demolition can proceed,” Knego wrote on the blog

The ship tracking website now lists both ferries as “broken up.”

Previously, they were listed as “to be broken up.”

The ferries were sold by Marine Atlantic to separate buyers in August.

The Caribou was sold to Comrie Ltd. of St. Vincent and the Grenadines while the Smallwood was sold to Merrion Navigation S.A. of the Marshall Islands.

However, both ferries are now owned by Best Oasis Ltd. of India, according to online ship registries and that company’s website.

Marine Atlantic Spokesperson Tara Lang said the Crown corporation knew there was a possibility the ships would be broken up for scrap after they were sold.

“The buyers plans were to explore options to sell the vessels for trading purposes and if they were not successful then they would recycle them,” Lang wrote in an email to The Gulf News.

She said one condition of sale included a commitment that if either buyer decided to recycle the vessels, it would be done at a yard with full green recycling facilities in compliance with IMO guidelines.

The Gulf News

Organizations: Marine Atlantic, Smallwood, National Film Board Comrie Ltd. Best Oasis Ltd. of India IMO guidelines.The Gulf News

Geographic location: Port aux Basques, India, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • Neil
    August 29, 2012 - 00:39

    Seeing those two together awaiting their final destruction makes me think as if an old, close friend died. Not sure what to say. And now Marine Atlantic is again pulling its "new" vessel off the Argentia run to accomodate Port aux Basques service ....couldn't they have used one of these boats ? Shady politics at work again

  • noel
    November 05, 2011 - 19:41

    I am one of the few who still think that removing those shipa from Newfoundalnd service was a mistake. Scrapping them lik enptied soft drink cans only compounds the issue. I hope there is some avenue open to crucify, for lack of a better term, those who ahve orchestrated it to be done in such a bohemian manner.

  • Foghorn Leghorn
    November 02, 2011 - 16:53

    Ollie - Again, I think your head is still poking out of the sand between the two ships. Google - Alang, India. It is known as the - Ships Graveyard. There is something in the vicinity of 30 people, children included who have died there this year alone scrapping ships on the beach. I can assure you they are not there to be repainted!

    • Obvious Ollie
      November 04, 2011 - 12:52

      I hate having to repeat myself but again, learn to read Foggy. You apparantly keep missing my point by a few (hundred) nautical miles.

  • Leo Stamp
    November 02, 2011 - 01:21

    Who really gives a xxxx they are junk. Get on with your lives.

    • Will
      January 09, 2012 - 01:42

      Just bc your not nostalgic and have no heart doesnt mean we have to be the same way.

  • Geoff Strickland
    November 01, 2011 - 21:45

    These ships should never been sold to a foreign company. They could have STILL be serving this province in a different capacity, like shipping passengers, vehicles and freight between Lewisporte, Newfoundland to Goose Bay, Labrador. The M. V. Sir Robert Bond was built in 1975 and STILL in service. The Smallwood and the Caribou would have been the ideal replacements for the Bond.

  • Dean
    November 01, 2011 - 21:19

    We have all seen the pictures and news stories of the little 20 foot boots being used in India to ferry hundreds of people at a time, only to sink with many lifes lost. Well, why not use these boats?

  • Newfinorth
    November 01, 2011 - 19:29

    I think that this is a very sad end to two very beautiful ships. I can't for the life of me understand how two vessels under 30years of age ( The Smallwood is only in her early to mid twenties) can be considered nothing more than scrape. While I worked at the shipyards in my early years, this is when we would do a Mid Life Refit on them and send them out for another 10 -15 years of service. Truthfully I think someone "Missed The Boat" on this one. :-(

  • Wayne
    November 01, 2011 - 19:18

    Would have made two great ferries for Fogo Island and Bell Island. Haha

  • Foghorn Leghorn
    November 01, 2011 - 15:52

    Ollie - I think I can see the image of your head buried in the sand between the two ships. If you don't think that this is a world wide problem it is called - Ship Breaking. Check out the following documentary by the CBC - It will open your eyes to what is actually happening here.

    • Obvious Ollie
      November 02, 2011 - 13:50

      I'm not saying this isn't an issue in the general sense. Does this article say the scrapping is in progress? NO. Does the picture attached show workers scrapping the two ships? NO. Again, show me the proverbial "smoking gun" (I.E. the scrapping of these two ships in progress) and I might have an opinion of this company in particular. Yes I agree that this is a global issue (underline global), but before you go off with your torch with the rest of the village idiots, you might want to wait for them to ACTUALLY commit the crime you're accusing them of (I.E. scrapping these two ships in a non-environmentally safe manor.). Learn ot read guy.

  • Foghorn Leghorn
    November 01, 2011 - 15:08

    Another case of a black eye for Marine Atlantic officials. This is simply unacceptable that this has been allowed to happen. There are many shipping companies around the world that simply turn a blind eye to the typical paper shuffle that took place here. The Canadian government should do a thorough investigation into Marine Atlantic and what has taken place here. We cannot simply continue to dump our hazardous garbage on third world countries that have little or no environmental controls or regulations. SHAME ON MARINE ATLANTIC!!

  • David
    November 01, 2011 - 14:29

    Those ships were fine for people like us, and would have been still been in service today if not for a totally shocking, one-time windfall federal expenditure.....but in the rest of the nautical world, they are suitable only for scrap. If you didn't realize it before, you just got a contextual lesson in the REAL Newfoundland quality of life. Ta-dahhhh!

  • Bill
    November 01, 2011 - 11:33

    Does anyone else find this picture as depressing as I do?

    • Eli
      November 01, 2011 - 14:47

      Yes Bill, I do. Len Simms and Ross Reid should be onboard rather than reappointed to the jobs they resigned from to run the frikkin' Tories campaign.

  • Obvious Ollie
    November 01, 2011 - 11:12

    I love how everyone's jumping all over this picture after reading the article without taking in the obvious: THEY HAVEN'T STARTED THE DEMOLITION! This whole article at this point is basically speculation and heresay. Sure they may have said reputation of doing buisiness this way in the past, but by this "torch bearing mob" logic, you might as well be investigating a murder and point to a random passerby and say "he did it". Point is where's the proof? Show me a pic of them working on the demolition while the two are still on the beach and not in dry dock. Then I might say something about that topic. Lord you gave them eyes but they cannot see

    • BR
      November 01, 2011 - 12:37

      The fact they are on a beach tells me something. Have you seen the shows where they remove big ships from a beach? It costs a fortune, and I don't think they will spend a fortune to take it off a beach and put it on drydock. Wait a week or 2 and you'll seeing them all over the ship with torches. There are other places in the world that do not care as much about the environment as we do. However if you walk in a few old woods roads around here, even some of us don't care.

    • David
      November 01, 2011 - 14:23

      They are on the beach because they're resting.....

  • Cyril Rogers
    November 01, 2011 - 10:35

    Lots of good memories of these two ships and it is sad to see them go this way. I do wonder why we can't build our own ships for the Marine Atlantic routes. It seems we are always looking for ways to destroy our own ship-building capacity. I do realize there are free trade agreements and other cost factors involved but one has to wonder just how much our governments care anymore, when it comes to looking after our own needs instead of getting caught up in perceived gains by buying and building elsewhere.

  • axle
    November 01, 2011 - 10:02

    the Atlantic and Smallwood they were real ships

  • Kevin Power
    November 01, 2011 - 09:39

    From a legal perspective, the company with the agreement with Marine Atlantic did not breach its undertaking or contract. They didn't scrap the vessels, they sold them to other companies who scrapped them and that entity did not have an agreement to not scrap or environmentally scrap them. You can't control things from beyond the grave. Everyone, including Marine Atlantic has their behinds covered, they did the right thing on paper, but they had to know what the end result was going to be. The whole things was for show and public relations. These two old vessels are worn out and had lived beyond their life expectancy. I am glad that i made my last trips on them.

  • Bill
    November 01, 2011 - 08:34

    Here are 2 examples of ships purpose built by Canada in Canadian shipyards. Now half way through their lifecycle they are beached in India to be dismantled in conditions that are environmentally unfriendly by individuals who have no safety concerns for the workers. Canada's new shipbuilding regime in the case of Marine Atlantic involves going to Europe to buy used ferries. Just another indication of how the Harper Government affects both the environment and industry.

  • BR
    November 01, 2011 - 08:00

    "She said one condition of sale included a commitment that if either buyer decided to recycle the vessels, it would be done at a yard with full green recycling facilities in compliance with IMO guidelines." ....... and if they don't, what are you going to do, take them back.??? Do you think the bunch in India really cares?

    • Momma
      November 01, 2011 - 09:03

      Thats the whole point of a "Sales Agreement"!!! They MUST sell to a company with a full green recycling facility! If they don't they can be legally sued due to the sales agreement not being fully fullfilled! A sales agreement to India had to reflect the sales agreement from Newfoundland. If it is not between them, then they can sue India for it. Smarten up! Anyone can see that!!! You don't just sell something like that and shake hands as a verbal agreement! There are DOCUMENTS to back up AGREEMENTS and signed by authority to cover everyones AS*!!

    • BR
      November 01, 2011 - 11:17

      Do you really think a written agreement is always followed, just because it is in writing? The ships are on a beach, ready to be dismantled. By the time you sue, the job is finished. You may get money out of it but if any oil leaks out, it's too late. And you're telling me to smarten up. I have a piece of land in India to sell you, cheap, and I'll put it in writing.

  • Leah
    November 01, 2011 - 07:09

    These two vessels serviced us for years. It is a sad ending. The picture itself is heartbreaking.

    • rose
      November 01, 2011 - 12:17

      I think that it is heartbreaking to see these two ships just sitting there waitng to go to their deaths.I have traveled on both,they were beautiful.Personally I think ,that marine atlantic should have kept them for back ups or to use elsewhere.There are days now where threre are vechiles waiting to get accroos ,but they can not,cuz th ere is no room on the ferrys.I went on one of the Smallwoods first crossings from port aux basques and she was beautiful.One of them queens could have been turned into a floating museum,Anything would have been better than what happened to them.