The MV Lyubov Orlova is at the mercy of the ocean currents once again.
The derelict Russian cruise ship was undertow by the offshore supply vessel Atlantic Hawk after it drifted too close to the Hibernia platform. But now Transport Canada is reporting that, in consultation with its partners, it has been decided not to pursue the drifting vessel as there are no people aboard the ship and there was a serious concern for the safety of Canadian sailors involved in the salvage operation, given the weather and dangerous sea conditions.
Whether this means that the tow line broke, as happened previously when the ship was undertow by the tugboat Charlene Hunt, or the towline was cut intentionally remains unclear.
Transport Canada further reports that the Lyubov Orlova no longer poses a threat to the safety of offshore oil installations, their personnel or the marine environment. They say the vessel has drifted into international waters and given current patterns and predominant winds, it is very unlikely that the vessel will re-enter waters under Canadian jurisdiction. As of yesterday evening, the ship was located located approx. 250 nautical miles east of St. John’s, NL (approx. 50 nautical miles outside Canada’s territorial waters) and was drifting Northeasterly.
Transport Canada says it has informed the international shipping community, the owner of the vessel and the flag state of the current status of the vessel and they say the owner of the vessel remains responsible for its movements.
Measures have been taken to ensure monitoring of the vessel.
Meanwhile, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is deploying a team of investigators to St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, to investigate the initial incident involving the tug boat Charlene Hunt and the cruise ship MV Lyubov Orlova. The Orlova broke free of its tow line shortly after being towed out of St. John's harbour on Jan. 23 while en route to the Dominican Republic and went adrift. The TSB says it will gather information and assess the occurrence.
Earlier story (By Ashley Fitzpatrick):
The ship that barely floats is becoming the story that won’t sink.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) says it is deploying a team of investigators to St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, to investigate the incident involving the tug boat Charlene Hunt and the cruise ship MV Lyubov Orlova. The Orlova broke free of its tow line while en route to the Dominican Republic and went adrift. The TSB says it will gather information and assess the occurrence.
Meanwhile, the St. John’s Port Authority says the former cruise ship Lyubov Orlova will not be allowed to berth in St. John’s harbour when and if she is brought back to shore in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Port authority president and CEO Sean Hanrahan stated the Lyubov Orlova was “abandoned” for the last two and a half years, resulting in “significant financial loss to the St. John’s Port Authority.”
Not allowing the ship to tie up again at a St. John’s Port Authority facility is meant to avoid more of the same, Hanrahan said.
As of mid-day Friday, the Orlova was about 180 kilometres North of St. John’s, in the Flemish Pass area, under tow by the offshore supply vessel Atlantic Hawk. The offshore service and supply vessel was offered up by Husky Energy to Transport Canada to tow the ship, to take it away from the province’s oil-producing offshore installations on Wednesday.
The Lyubov Orlova had floated past the Hibernia platform and was about 50 kilometres from the SeaRose FPSO when oil companies operating offshore, in collaboration with federal officials, collectively decided to arrange for the old ferry to be pulled north and avoid incoming bad weather forecast for the area.
The Atlantic Hawk traded off its tug mission to a separate vessel contracted by Transport Canada — the Maersk Challenger — later in the day Friday.
A spokeswoman with Husky Energy, Colleen McConnell, confirmed the handoff, saying she did not know the final destination of the Orlova.
Second boat towed
Meanwhile, a second supply vessel being used by Husky was called on to place a disabled fishing vessel under tow.
The Maersk Chancellor was on route back to St. John’s overnight Thursday when it was tasked by the coast guard to help the fishing vessel Cape Dorset, found about 75 kilometres from St. John’s.
There were no injuries or immediate concerns for the health of the 19 people on board the boat, according to Maj. Martell Thompson at the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax, but the boat did need assistance getting back to port.
The Maersk Chancellor met up with the 40-metre-long boat at about 3:30 a.m. and waited until light.
Both ships arrived back in St. John’s around 4:30 p.m.