The 1976-built expedition ship MV LYUBOV ORLOVA was placed under arrest when it arrived at St. John’s, Newfoundland in Canada last week. The Russian registered ship, with 49 Russian and two Ukrainian crew members on board but no passengers, “was seized following a suit by a haulage contractor over a $251,000 debt,” Pyotr Osichansky of the International Transport Workers Federation told the Russian Information Agency Novosti. The crew, it appears, has not been paid in five months and the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko told the Voice of Russia, “The fear is that if the debt is not paid off, the ship will be auctioned off.” The MV LYUBOV ORLOVA is named after the first recognized star of Soviet cinema, famous theatre actress and a gifted singer born in 1902 who came to fame in the mid 1930s.
Update: October 31, 2010:
Still stranded in St. John’s since September 25, MV LYUBOV ORLOVA was reported sold to an unnamed Norwegian company. The International Transportation Workers Federation has been attempting to assist the 50 Russian and Ukrainian crews to get the CAN$350,000 in back pay and then return them to their homes. The new Norwegian owners plan to have the ship in Europe soon and the ITWF and the owner are committed to finding a solution.
Update: February 18, 2012: MV LYUBOV ORLOVLD sold at auction “as is” at St. Johns, Canada where she arrived October 2010 under arrest. The buyers are described as being Caribbean based – price US$275,000.
Additional information from Maritimematters’s Shawn Dake: The ship has reportedly been sold to undisclosed buyers based in the Caribbean for $275,000. Since the vessel had $750,000 in debt claims some creditors will undoubtedly be taking on loss. The deal was brokered by Gibson Canadian Global of Montreal, P.Q. Canada. The ship had been Russian owned but was chartered to Cruise North Expeditions who are reportedly owed $250,000 of the debt sum. Cruise North plans to operate three voyages in 2012 to the Canadian Arctic region with the former sister ship CLIPPER ADVENTURER ex ALLA TARASOVA, built in 1975. It will be interesting to see where this attractive mini-liner next turns up.
Update: On January 23, 2013, the LYUBOV ORLOVA left St. John’s under tow of the American tug CHARLENE HUNT with the intended destination of the Dominican Republic for scrapping. However, the ship parted her tow line in rough seas the next day and remained adrift off Newfoundland. Sea conditions were 10 to 18 feet high with winds of 35 knots. Attempts to reattach a line failed. Her tug returned to port leaving the ship loose in the winter North Atlantic. As the LYUBOV ORLOVA was in international waters Transport Canada decided the vessel no longer came under their jurisdiction and said it was solely the owner’s responsibility.
Update: On January 31, 2013 the offshore supply vessel ATLANTIC HAWK secured the derelict ship after the she was deemed a potential threat to offshore oil rigs. However, on Monday, February 4, Transport Canada cut her loose again. Their statement read “The LYUBOV ORLOVA no longer poses a threat to the safety of offshore oil installations, their personnel or the marine environment. 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.” Safety concerns were cited by Transport Canada as their reason to not pursue a salvage operation to retrieve the ship, not to mention they have no desire for the unwanted vessel to be returned to a Canadian port. The ship’s position will continue to be monitored to avoid interference with international shipping, but for now at least, it appears the LYUBOV ORLOVA will end up being the responsibility of whatever nation’s waters she floats into, unless she sinks first.
Update: May 24, 2013: The Canadian Coast Guard says it has received no reported sightings of the LYUBOV ORLOVA since March 12, she is presumed sunk.
MARTIN COX - Founder and publisher of MaritimeMatters, inspired by maritime culture and technology growing up in the port of Southampton. He works as a photographer in Los Angeles, and his works has been exhibited in LA, San Francisco, New York, London and Iceland. Martin is the co-writer of the book “Hollywood to Honolulu; the story of the Los Angeles Steamship Company” published by the Steam Ship Historical Society of America. The Los Angeles Maritime Museum has commissioned artworks and collected his photographs.