UPDATED: Tug for Lyubov Orlova sent back to St. John’s

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Transport Canada cites safety concerns for crew of vessel

The tugboat tasked with hauling the MV Lyubov Orlova to the Dominican Republic was ordered to return to St. John’s harbour on Sunday, three days after the towing line snapped.

In a statement released to media, Transport Canada said it ordered the Charlene Hunt to return to St. John’s “because of safety concerns for the vessel and its crew.”

Transport Canada said it intends to conduct an inspection of the tug, which is owned by Hunts Tugs and Barges Inc. in Rhode Island. The Telegram attempted to contact company owner Kevin Hunt on Sunday, but he could not be reached.

Meanwhile, Transport Canada said the Lyubov Orlova remained adrift as of early Sunday evening and was not blocking navigation routes or leaking pollutants into the marine environment.

Prior to leaving the harbour on Wednesday, the Lyubov Orlova had been a fixture there for over two years. In the fall of 2010, the ship was ordered to dock in St. John’s. At the time, its Russian crew had not been paid in months, and creditors were also seeking compensation.

The ship’s current owner, Sam Shoeybi, was planning to send it to a scrapyard in the Dominican Republic.


(Earlier story)

The MV Lyubov Orlova is still adrift in the Atlantic but is not causing a hazard to marine traffic or the environment, says Transport Canada.


The disabled Russian cruise ship, which was destined for the Dominican Republic where it will be scrapped, was being towed out of St. John's when it broke free from a tugboat Thursday afternoon.


The ship had been sitting in the harbour since September, 2010


Marie-Eve Higo with transport Canada says that Transport Canada’s role is to ensure that Canada's waterways provide safe navigation to marine vessels and are free of ship-source pollution.  


“At this time, MV Lyubov Orlova remains adrift and is not blocking navigation,” she said. “Nor is it leaking ship-source pollution. Transport Canada continues to monitor the area for pollution.”


The Department of Fisheries is also monitoring the situation.


The tug being used to pull the ship southward is the Charlene Hunt, registered to Hunts Tugs and Barges Inc. in Rhode Island. However, company owner Kevin Hunt when contacted by phone yesterday, said the tug has been contracted out to do the work.


The Canadian Coast Guard's Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax said recently it's not involved in the incident because there are no crewmembers on board the Orlova.

Organizations: Transport Canada, Dominican Republic, Department of Fisheries Hunts Tugs and Barges Canadian Coast Guard Joint Rescue Co

Geographic location: Canada, Atlantic, St. John's Rhode Island Halifax

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Recent comments

  • Ed Power
    January 28, 2013 - 15:37

    Not to worry, Transport Canada will jump into action when this tub gets wrecked upon our shores...

    • Seafarer
      January 30, 2013 - 06:34

      Canada, as all countries of the world has the authority to carry out " Port State Inspections" of any vessel entering one of their ports. Since the Charlene Hunt had problems even getting to St. John's it would have been expected that Transport Canada would have been aboard for an inspection sometime during all the weeks it was tied up in St. John's. Even before that when the tug limped into Halifax after having her engine room flooded Transport Canada should have been on the dock awaiting her arrival there. Maybe TC is better at harassing Canadian ships that have an expired fire extinguisher, or a navigation light bulb that is burnt out. That the Charlene Hunt s unsuitable for the tow she was contracted for, during the North Atlantic Winter, was painfully obvious to anyone with any seafaring experience.

  • Roger
    January 28, 2013 - 14:20

    I'm not sure those Hon. MP's would understand. However we do expect that Transport Canada act in a way that protects safety of life at sea and the marine environment. What happened in this case is the Port of St. Johns and TC were so happy to get rid of this ship that they would have allowed the Craig Trans over in Halifax to tow it if it would have gotten both vessels out of the country.

  • Alan Knight
    January 28, 2013 - 13:09

    Transport Canada can only do what Parliament authorised them to do when they overhauled the Canada Shipping Act back in 2001. If you think that Transport Canada should be given additional authority to inspect tugs and tows, and reject those that are not suitable, without being sued by the tug's owner, then write to your Member of Parliament, and tell him/her what you think. Preferably do so before TC has to contend with a loaded oil tanker, drifting powerless near an oil production facility.

  • Slip
    January 28, 2013 - 10:05

    Yup, A sure good job was done removing the CANADIAN MINER off of Scaterie Island. I agree w/ all of you Guys about Transportation Canada.

  • John Smith
    January 28, 2013 - 09:51

    I knew when they didn't even bother to properly let go the lines that this was a farce. They hooked on to the orlova, and busted the ropes, then they threw what garbage was on the wharf aboard as she drifted from the dock...sheer professionalism at it's best. It would never happen at any other dock in Canada...only here...ridiculous....I only hope it never comes back here, but it's only a matter of time before the next abandoned piece of juck ties up to the dock...seems to be a tradition with eastern block countries...if you want to get rid of your garbage just tie it up in st. john's...the city of legends...LOL

  • Bill
    January 28, 2013 - 08:35

    The Coast Guard should tow this ship to the nearest port and then sue Sam Shoeybi for all costs associated.

  • Hmmm
    January 28, 2013 - 07:15

    I hope for everybody's sake the ship sinks - hardly seems safe to have something that large just floating along in the water, unaccompanied and with nobody on board. I wonder what the long term plan will be.

  • david
    January 27, 2013 - 20:44

    But remember to recycle your tin cans and newspapers, folks.....You know: "Save the Earth! Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha!

  • RJ
    January 27, 2013 - 18:00

    Couldn't wait til summer to tow...lol Yuup us Nflders know how to screw u over...tow that der disabled Russian Cruise ship to ...hmmm Cape Race!! then we will let the lines loose on 'er ok b'y. ;)

  • Joe
    January 27, 2013 - 11:21

    This is a farce!! This vessel was never intended to reach the Dominican Republic. I bet this thing is insured to the hilt and the company was going to sink it or make it look like a sinking. What company would expect one tug to tow a ship that size to the DR is winter, this was planned to sink. Right now I bet they are all praying for bad weather. If I were the Federal government I would demand the owner to secure this shipping and possible environmental hazard before this gets out of hand. The weather could change any minute and then we have a disaster.

  • Dee
    January 27, 2013 - 09:04

    Come on was there anyone surprised when the tow line let go,do you think that will make it to DR,I don,t think the intentions of the owners were to have this boat towed all that way,I would say their intentions were to have that boat accidentally any day I would say that we will hear that this boat sank in open sea.

    • RJ
      January 27, 2013 - 19:36

      Crap ...the Port Authority better hope for some high seas ...what a farse!!!

  • Alan Knight
    January 27, 2013 - 07:40

    How many more times will Canada allow under-powered geriatric tugs, flying sleazy Flags-of-Convenience, to tow old ships out of Canada? The "Charlene Hunt" had already needed pumps air-dropped to her so she could stagger into Halifax, with a flooded Engine Room, on her way to St. John's. Who paid for the fuel to air-drop those pumps? You, the tax-payer!

  • david
    January 26, 2013 - 14:36

    In an eerie parrallel, government departments like Transport Canada remain completely "adrift" as well, too busy passing the buck and covering their arses to do anything useful. When's payday?