Sunday, January 27, 2013

Charlene Hunt - more on the story

According to latest reports the tug Charlene Hunt has been ordered back into St.John's over concerns for the safety of the crew. As you will see from comments attached to previous postings. the tug sailed from St.John's towing the former cruise ship Lyubov Orlova, but the tow line parted off Cape Race. The tug ahas not been able to reconnect, and the ship is still drifting, but in a seaward direction.
CCGS Cape Roger was standing by to warn off approaching ships, but there does not seem to be any particular concern or effort to seek alternative means of securing the ship.
As we know the Canadian Coast Guard will not take a ship in tow. Commercial salvors will unlikely be interested in the ship, particularly if it is not insured, as scrap-bound ships frequently are not. Salvage awards are based on the value of the salved ship under traditional law.
There are certainly questions about the capability of the tug Charlene Hunt itself to under take such a tow in winter time, so a return to port may well be the end of the story for her.
The fate of the ship is open to question. The Department of Transport is taking a 'hands off" approach, as long as it not polluting or impeding navigation. Does that mean they would allow it to sink, with whatever ensuing pollution may result?
I have been promoting rescue / salvage tugs for Canada for several years, and this would seem to be another example to make the case, even though there is no immediate threat to human life. There are certainly potential environmental risks which should be of paramount concern now.
There is still a great deal of controversy in the salvage industry over how to compensate salvors for preventing pollution and environmental damage. Recent ship sinkings around the world, the Rena off New Zealand being a prime example pose huge risks to shipping.
I favour a pool of funds taken from harbour, pilotage or a new port fee from which to draw for compensation to salvors who step in to prevent pollution, groundings or loss. I also favour standby rescue tugs, on hire or owned by the government, that can step in and tow ships to safety.
Britain has recently cancelled or cut back such a plan through their Coast Guard, but France, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain, among others, do have such tugs. In Canada's case they would rarely be used, and so would have other duties, but they should be in place for situations just as this. 


  1. I agree 100%.To me it is an embarrassment to hear how the Coast Guard is handling this situation.A stop has to be put on whats going on here.Our environment is at risk.If there is no insurance secured they should not be allowed to move. But then they would only use it to their advantage to dump their junk.To me you can't win either way.

  2. Sadly,the history of the Charlene Hunt does look distrubingly like that of the Craig Trans. Built in 1964 and last drydocked in 2007 Hunt Tug and Barge had her for sale on,
    for a reduced price of 135,000! and it is now delisted from the site.
    Early news reports heralding the Orlova's long awaited departure from St John's harbour reports
    her owner as one Reza Shoeybi of Boston, but his name has disappeared from media reports since the incident.

  3. As of Noon Jan.28, both the Charlene Hunt and Cape Roger are showing as secure in St. John's on AIS.

  4. Good story Mac,
    There is already a huge fund for oilspills around our coast that was instituted after the Kurdistan dister off of Cape Breton.I bet theres lots of monies sitting there that could/should be accessed to tow this abandoned ship in and dispose of it.Surely someone from Atlantic Towing would like to get it and make a few bucks?

  5. The tail of the Charlene Hunt and her tow, and who's really behind it is about as clear as the North Atlantic in February.
    Hunt Tug and Barge had the Charlene Hunt up for sale on
    but delisted her recently. Early media reports listed the Hunt's owner as Reza Shoeybi of Boston and the owner of the Orlova as Sam Shoeybi, his uncle.
    While later reports indicate Toronto based scrap dealer Hussein Humayuni as the cruise ship's owner.
    It seems the practice here is buy a big ship for scrap, buy an old tug(cheap), reflag it, hire some poor bastards to crew her and try to get them both to the breaker yard. If you make it both get cut up...If you don't, Oh well.