OTTAWA — The federal Opposition says it is irresponsible of Canada to abandon a derelict Russian cruise ship that’s now drifting in the North Atlantic.
NDP transport critic Olivia Chow said that Transport Canada never should have allowed the Lyubov Orlova to be towed out of port in St. John’s, N.L., in the dead of winter.
“Just because the ship is now drifting in international waters, it’s still the Canadian government that gave it the authority to tow the ship,” Chow said in an interview.
The empty, 237-passenger cruise ship was being pulled to the Dominican Republic for scrap when its tow line snapped in rough seas on Jan. 23.
Efforts to reattach the cable failed, and Transport Canada ordered the tugboat Charlene Hunt back to port a few days later.
An offshore supply ship from Husky Energy was sent to tow the Lyubov Orlova away from oil platforms last week, and Transport Canada issued a statement Saturday saying the vessel had drifted into international waters.
The release said the ship was not expected to re-enter Canadian waters and Transport Canada would not be pursuing the vessel, adding that the owners of the ship remain responsible for its movements.
Transport Canada did not return messages seeking comment.
The Transportation Safety Board sent two investigators to St. John’s last week, but has not yet committed to a formal investigation into how the vessel broke free from the tugboat.
Chow said the federal Conservatives have a history of washing its hands of orphaned vessels, citing the case of the MV Miner off Nova Scotia.
The bulk carrier ran aground on Scaterie Island off Cape Breton in September 2011 while being towed to a scrapyard in Turkey. Neither the federal nor provincial governments have been willing to take responsibility for the wreck.
“We see a pattern of shirking responsibility,” said Chow. “And when accidents happen, the Conservative government walks away.”