Playing the blame game

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It is a story that has drifted from the bizarre to the outright ridiculous. On the last day of January in an editorial in this space, we pointed out that the story of the Lyubov Orlova seems to be missing a number of crucial pieces: among them, how an ill-equipped tugboat managed to leave St. John’s with the former cruise ship in tow, why that tow was undertaken in the worst of winter weather, and whether the vessels were carrying insurance to pay for the haul.

Since then, the story has become downright unbelievable.

Over the weekend, one of the Orlova’s owners — Reza Shoeybi, currently stranded on the tugboat Charlene Hunt, which is dockside in St. John’s until a litany of ship safety improvements are made — suggested that not only should Transport Canada help him find the now-missing Orlova, but even went so far as to suggest the federal government has assumed some kind of vicarious liability for the ship.

Why? Because offshore vessels managed to attach a towline to Mr. Shoeybi’s derelict property to keep it from drifting into offshore oil facilities. The vessel was towed by one offshore vessel and then later was transferred to another vessel to bring the ship ashore. The tow broke, leaving the vessel adrift.

Shoeybi’s response?

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

So let’s see if we can get this straight: Shoeybi arranged a winter tow with a tug that couldn’t handle the job, offshore vessels managed to keep his derelict property — property he’s still legally responsible for — from potentially doing expensive damage to offshore platforms, and because they took a role in stopping that damage from occurring and attempted to tow the vessel ashore, Transport Canada has somehow assumed some kind of responsibility for the vessel?

Ridiculous.

This has certainly not been Transport Canada’s finest hour: the tug the Charlene Hunt almost sank on its way here in the first place. It’s a 50-year-old workhorse, dragged out of something like two years of retirement, that had enough trouble looking after itself and probably should never have been allowed to leave port with the Orlova under tow. Why it got out through the Narrows in the first place is well worth investigating, as are the circumstances under which the vessel’s original towline broke.

Transportation Safety Board investigators have come to the province to look into some of those questions. Let’s hope they get answers, and share them.

In the meantime, whatever Transport Canada may or may not have done in relation to this little expedition, any suggestion that the federal authority is now in some way on the hook for the mistakes that took the Orlova away from the wharf should get the kind of reaction they deserve: either a good belly laugh or sheer disbelief.

It’s time for this little comedy to draw to a close.

Organizations: Transport Canada, Transportation Safety Board

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Recent comments

  • Joh Smith
    February 12, 2013 - 14:22

    Oh David...only someone of your obvious superior intellect could ever get the gist of what you're saying...as a matter of fact I'd say that you are about the only one who can understand exactly what you say in any of your inane posts. But please don't stop...you are always good for a laugh...

    • IQ
      February 12, 2013 - 15:13

      I am of low IQ ..what is inane mean there say you?

    • david
      February 12, 2013 - 15:51

      Get back to 'work'. It's bad enough we have to pay your salary, you could at least pretend to do something.

  • Anonymous
    February 12, 2013 - 12:01

    Go write a song about it Con.

  • david
    February 12, 2013 - 08:54

    I'll add a little tidbot that no one has yet mentioned. It is a very disturbing revelation that if terrorists wanted to destroy a major offshre oil producing facility, located where both the natural conditions and being in a jurisdiction where completely incompetent, unqualified and unprepared nimrods wouldn'tr know waht to do for months, this spectacvcle had provided quite a playbook. It is absolutely frightening and compleltely plausible that anyone could get a boat, load it with thier preferred explosives, and simply drive it into a platform without anyone noticing or doing a dam thing. Our only hope is that the Americans are able to risk an "international sovereignty incident" and step in very quickly. Could someone...anyone!? ....in the entiire Newfoundland meida "gong show" please start asking some pointed questions of someoen involved in this fiasco --- other than Shoeybi?!? This is rather more important than the incessant, mindless local politics.....

    • John Smith
      February 12, 2013 - 10:34

      Gee David, if only we had you in control instead of those...incompetent, unqualified, unprepared nimrods, I'm sure we could all reast a little easier...LMAO

    • Aunt Lizzie
      February 12, 2013 - 11:00

      David, the word "nimrod" refers to a mighty hunter. Some people think it is an insulting term referring to a stupid person, because Bugs Bunny called Elmer Fudd a nimrod. Bugs was not insulting Elmer by using that term - he was merely using a fanciful synonym for "hunter."

    • david
      February 12, 2013 - 13:47

      Aunt Lizzie: Congratulations on your trivia 'knowledge'....but I'm pretty sure there were very few otherwise inttelligent people who mistook the gist of my post. If there are, then we really are in much worse shape than even I thought. BTW, other than symantics or grammar, did anything else in there tweak your interest or catch your attention?

    • david
      February 12, 2013 - 13:48

      Poor John Smith...forever in turd place.

    • Aunt Lizzie
      February 13, 2013 - 10:04

      @David: Thanks - I am a proud trivia buff and Bugs Bunny fan. In answer to your question... No, nothing else in your post caught my interest. I don't buy any of the conclusions you draw from this incident. I do however agree with the editorial above, which is unusual.

  • Cold Future
    February 12, 2013 - 08:12

    We should count our lucky stars. If our zealous government had not been tied up with the Muskrat boondoggle they would have expropriated the vessel by now and retested our polluter pay legislation with all its teeth. With a bit of luck we will not have to pick up the tab for this one.

  • Con O'Brien
    February 12, 2013 - 07:50

    I find it unbelievable that she was allowed to leave under the circumstances she did! Anyone who was watching or in charge should have seen the potential for BIG problems with that little tug! Now we have a derelict cruise ship adrift on the ocean posing great danger to other ships, mariners, and the environment! Not to mention the brush with the OIL RIGS and the sailors who had to tow her away from those rigs! Who signed off on allowing her to be moved? Could this have been avoided somehow?

  • John Smith
    February 12, 2013 - 07:32

    Everthing is working out exactly as Mr. Shoeybi wanted it to. Get it out to sea, cut the line...and presto...someone else's problem. I hope the government takes this guy for everything he's worth...

    • Mr.Nimrod
      February 12, 2013 - 13:07

      City & Port Auth are in bed together.Allowing the Punt to leave harbour with the Orlova in tow..good grief!! Ppl wonder why we get made fun of....prime example indeed!