Owner asks government to help find drifting ship

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Transport Canada partially responsible for Orlova, Reza Shoeybi says

The owner of the Lyubov Orlova says the least the Canadian Coast Guard and Transport Canada can do is find the location of his vessel, since they’re partially responsible for the ship’s uncertain co-ordinates.

Reza Shoeybi stands in the wheelhouse of the tug Charlene Hunt, the vessel that failed to tow the Orlova to its scrap yard fate in the Dominican Republic.

When the line broke between the Hunt and the dead cruise ship, the Orlova drifted into the waters near the Hibernia platform.

It was then that the offshore supply vessel Atlantic Hawk towed the ship clear of the oilfields and transferred the tow to another ship chartered by Transport Canada.

But the line again broke and the Orlova drifted into international waters.

It’s because of this final act by Transport Canada that Shoeybi says the federal government now shares the burden of responsibility for the ship with him. They touched the vessel. They got involved.

“I think they’re a bit responsible now,” he says.

The last update he had on the Orlova was Feb. 4, which put the ship at approximately 330 nautical miles northeast of St. John’s.

There were tracking beacons on the boat, but they have all failed.

The one thing Shoeybi is sure of is the Orlova isn’t anywhere near where it was almost a week ago and neither Transport Canada nor the coast guard know where the vessel is.

“I call them every morning. They tell me to call back. They don’t know,” he says.

“Maybe they’re planning to send somebody out there or maybe they have. I don’t know exactly. They just keep telling me to call back tomorrow.”

Shoeybi hopes a coast guard flight will locate his vessel, which he now says is destined for a scrap yard in Turkey, if and when it’s found.

He’s contacting tug companies on the European side of the Atlantic in the hope of hiring them to intercept the drifting Orlova.

The vessel is starting to draw attention on that side, as is Transport Canada’s handling of the case. The Telegram has been contacted by several European journalists looking to pick up the story for different publications.

Also, on a British merchant navy forum website called Merchant-Navy.net, the comments are extremely opinionated. And they’re similar to Shoeybi’s.

“How can a responsible country like Canada just abandon a derelict on the high seas? Once they had it on tow, surely they are responsible for it. What happens if another ship hits it? It’s the sort of thing you might expect of a Third World tinpot nation,” writes Alf Corbyn.   

Ivan Cloherty’s comments are equally biting.

“What a totally irresponsible attitude which may come back to bite them in the arse with a vengeance at sometime in the future, as we all know that weather patterns are notoriously unpredictable. Will we read about her foundering on some Canadian shore with a subsequent oil spill? Perhaps before they released the tow someone should have gone aboard and opened up a few portholes on the lower decks. I bet someone went aboard to collect a few souvenirs.”

The website describes its membership as representing all ages, from Second World War merchant navy veterans up to present-day seafarers.

Meanwhile, the Charlene Hunt, in St. John’s harbour, has become Shoeybi’s de facto home. The Hunt has been detained by Transport Canada, which conducted an inspection of the vessel and identified a number of deficiencies. It cannot leave until the deficiencies are corrected, it is re-inspected and Transport Canada releases it from detention.

But Shoeybi says the number of demands Transport Canada is asking him to correct on the tug is ridiculous.

Four Transport Canada investigators spent three days inspecting the tug and came up with a list of corrections that is pages long and is so specific, it even gets down to things like demanding the galley be cleaned.

Shoeybi says it’s ridiculous, because the tug was inspected in Halifax when he first chartered it from its owner, Hunt Tugs & Barges Inc. It was detained then, too, because the Hunt almost sank off the coast of Nova Scotia.

It was also inspected when the insurance was purchased for the towing job. So if it passed all those inspections, Shoeybi wants to know why suddenly there are so many things wrong with the boat.

“This boat is in better condition than it was when it was in Halifax,” he says.

He says he’s willing to work with Transport Canada on making necessary repairs on the vessel, but officials have to meet him part way.

“If they don’t want to work with me, I’m just gonna say you deal with it with the owner,” he says.

Meanwhile, the Charlene Hunt is a mere nuisance compared to Shoeybi’s bigger conundrum of finding his drifting vessel. He says he’s called every possible towing company on this side of the ocean and is running out of options on the other side, too. Even if he manages to hire one, he needs the ship’s position.

He admits he’s attracted a lot of criticism here, but he points out that when they first left with the Orlova under tow after it had been tied to the wharf in St. John’s harbour for two years, it was like a celebration and he was looked upon in a much better light.


Organizations: Transport Canada, Canadian Coast Guard, Hunt Tugs Barges

Geographic location: Turkey, Canada, Halifax Nova Scotia.It

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Recent comments

  • ronald
    February 28, 2013 - 07:57

    Shoeybi, leave your email somewhere, I want to speak with you. Ronald

  • Support
    February 12, 2013 - 00:46

    These owners didn't run up the over-inflated bill of 250 thou for berthing fees. The former Russian owners did. These guys bought it from the courts for 275 thou, and were given a reasonable time to get it out of here. The Port Authority of St Seans(get it?) was putting pressure on them, and threatned that they were about to lose it, so they were forced out of port. There is almost never any insurance on vessels headed to the scrap yard....only on the tug, so this is not an insurance scam. They invested their hard earned money legitimately, and are close to losing 500 thou total. Why do so many of you want to kick them in the face, when they're down. Is this the kind of people that live here in St Johns? Any other community in Nl would be out helping them to get their boat into safe harbour. If you feel nothing for these guys, you deserve to have a great loss in life too...Its called Karma, and it will come calling.

  • Robert
    February 11, 2013 - 11:05

    I am certainly no expert in marine salvage but it is pretty common knowledge that once you abandon a vessel of everyone on board it is essentially up for grabs........Anybody can attach a line and get on board and claim salvage rights. And subsequently those who have attached a line AND gotten on board may yet abandon the vessel AND their salvage rights. So if Shoebyi wants his vessel back he is certainly at liberty to locate the vessel, attach a line and reclaim salvage AND at his expense.

    • Robert
      February 11, 2013 - 11:46

      Figure I may as well stir the pot a little more! When should we figure on this tug Charlene Hunt leaving port? Or should we expect the tab to start mounting on this "vessel" as well and we get stuck with yet another piece of target practice?

    • david
      February 11, 2013 - 11:49

      I suspect you are not understnading the actual truth underneath the BS that Shoebyi feeds the sadsack Telegram, Robert. , There's an expensive difference between an "asset" and a "liability".

    • Robert
      February 11, 2013 - 15:04

      David! The 'sadsack Telegram" is the only news we get anymore that simply provides the news. And I very much understand the difference between an asset and a liability; its what i've done for a living for almost 30 years. For the most part this a poor plan not executed very well at all. The owner is very much on the hook for $250,000. plus incurred expenses. Nobody walks away from that much money without looking for an out.

  • Wendy
    February 11, 2013 - 10:55


  • sink it into silence
    February 11, 2013 - 10:20

    TO THE OWNER: this ship is now in international waters so find it yourself, not on my dime. its outside of canada and i call on the federal government not to waste our money on a pile of scrap.

  • gerry
    February 11, 2013 - 10:11

    Let it drift! It will become part of that mess of garbage we dump into our world's oceans. Hopefully it won't collide with anything!

  • Douglas Sellars
    February 11, 2013 - 09:31

    Since the ship has been abandoned by the two legged rodent owners, recent buyers and government agencies...has anyone given any consideration to the hundreds of four legged rodents now residing on board the Orlova. These unfortunate creatures now find their home and themselves adrift but worse than any on ocean, adrift on a sea of bureaucratic red tape. Their fate will no doubt be a watery grave and years of litigation by two legged rodents of a different ilk will be their legacy....

  • Douglas Sellars
    February 11, 2013 - 09:25

    Since the ship has been abandoned by the two legged rodent owners and government agencies...has anyone given any consideration to the hundreds of four legged rodents now residing on board the Orlova. These unfortunate creatures now find their home and themselves adrift but worse than any on ocean, adrift on a sea of bureaucratic red tape. Their fate will no doubt be a watery grave and years of litigation by two legged rodents of a different ilk will be their legacy....

    • david
      February 11, 2013 - 10:24

      Where's PeTA?! Save the rats! Boy, that would be the LAST thing the government wants.....an environmental and marine safety hazard setr adrift out odf pure, bureacratic incompetence is no big deal for Newfoundland government. But having PeTa on your arse?!? Now that would be stressful.

  • david
    February 11, 2013 - 08:55

    This is a case for Jake Doyle.....all it needs is a bar brawl, a car chase and a nude scene and it's a double episode. (Spoiler alert: it was the owner!)

  • Political Watcher
    February 11, 2013 - 08:19

    Considering that this boat has an outstanding bill with the port authority for over $250,000.00 he should begin with paying that. Once his debts are settled, he can beging to accumilate new ones as thats all the Government will receive in return for helping, unpaid bills. All the while this guy gets his boat to the scrapyard and gets paid for doing so. No one held a gun to his head and told him to tow a vessel out into the North Atlantic in the mid of winter and with a storm headed up the coast. Somewhat sorry about his problems but not sorry the boat is gone.

  • Jerome
    February 11, 2013 - 08:00

    Shoeybi, You brought all this on yourself, so now put up with the consequences, and trying to switch the blame.

  • Ed Power
    February 11, 2013 - 07:48

    "It's the sort of thing you might expect of a Third World tinpot nation." Exactly. And "it will come back to bite us in the arse", either as a shipwreck, or a series of expensive lawsuits. Maybe the Lyubov Orlova is Harper's first giveaway under a Free Trade Agreeement with Europe.....

  • lynda
    February 11, 2013 - 07:21

    Go to Google and look up IMAGES FOR Lyubov Orlova and see that she doesn't derserve to be scrap. I found a couple of sites that shows her in her hayday not so long ago.

    • support
      February 12, 2013 - 06:36

      LYNDA, I so agree with you. When that ship came into this harbour, it was in fine condition. The sale price of 275 thou, by the courts in Montreal, was a steal. Someone missed out on a fine vessel, with a lot of life left in her yet. You can't buy a tiny sail boat at the local marina, for that kind of money. She could have run many more cruises, right out of St Seans(get it?). Thats the dude that wants to fence it off, and only allow certain ships, that he likes, into St Seans Harbour. The word authority has gone to his head,big time.