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.
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.