Friday, July 24, 2015

That sinking feeling

A rash of tug sinkings in the past year has left the Canadian taxpayer on the hook for big bucks.

In July 2014 the former RCN tug St.Charles, later Chebucto Sea, but since 2012 carrying the unlikely name of Matterhorn sank at her berth in Mount Carmel, NL and remains sunken and leaking petroleum. Its registration was suspended July 31, 2014.
The Coast Guard has finally become fed up with the Owner's lack of action in cleaning up and raising the vessel and have issued an ultimatum (now past) . The Coast Guard will do the clean up and bill the owner, but so far have indicated that they will not be raising the wreck - that is up to the owner.
Believed to be associated with another Newfoundland tug owning concern, the owner is a single ship company and may well be able to dodge the bullet and get out from under the obligation by walking away.

That is certainly the case with Chaulk Determination, the former Commodore Straits and Haida Brave, which  sank at Trois-Rivières, QC December 26, 2014. Its owner claimed an inability to pay for cleanup. The Coast Guard hired Groupe Océan to raise the wreck, which they did most capably, but the $1 million plus tab was picked up by the taxpayer.

It has recently been announced that the tug will be towed to Matane, QC and broken up by Méridien Maritime - again at some cost to the taxpayer.

The most recent sinking of a tug and workboat in Cornwall, ON, will have a happier outcome at least for  the taxpayer anyway, since the owners have acted responsibly and stepped up to the plate with their salvage plan and have begun work to raise Lac Manitoba and L.C.M. 131 which capsized in turbulent waters June 22. 

It is not yet clear if either vessel will be worth repairing after they are raised. Lac Manitoba was built in 1944, and rebuilt in 1999. The former TANAC tug was operated by Nadro Marine an affiliate of McKeil Workboats. The latter company has taken charge of the salvage. L.C.M. 131 is a landing craft type workboat operated by West Front Construction Ltd which had voluntarily come to the assistance of Lac Manitoba when it was overwhelmed and sank nearby.


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