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.