Orlova owner hopes to retrieve drifting vessel

Reza Shoeybi, the owner of the derelict and drifting cruise ship Lyubov Orlova, said he knew it was a bad idea to attempt to move the ship from St. John's harbour.
Reza Shoeybi, the owner of the Lyubov Orlova, would still like to salvage the drifting vessel. (CBC)

The owner of the derelict and drifting cruise ship Lyubov Orlova said he knew it was a bad idea to attempt to move the ship from St. John's harbour almost two weeks ago.

Reza Shoeybi said he feared the courts might seize the Orlova before he had a chance to move it.

"We had to take a chance and get it out of here, because a lot of people didn't like to have it here," said Shoeybi. "And basically, it was either take it out of here or lose the ship."

Shoeybi is staying in St. John's aboard the tug boat Charlene Hunt, which failed to tow the Orlova to a scrap dealer in the Dominican Republic.

The Hunt managed to haul the Orlova out of the harbour on Jan. 23. A day later, the line between the tug and the Orlova snapped southeast of St. John's.

Shoeybi said Transport Canada has told him that he can't use the Charlene Hunt to retrieve the Orlova, so he hopes to find another vessel to catch up with it and bring it to the Dominican.

In international waters

Meanwhile, after another failed attempt to tow the vessel, Transport Canada has decided to leave the ship adrift in international waters.

The federal agency hired a vessel to tow the Orlova, but the line between the ships snapped on Friday, 20 minutes after the tow line was connected.

There were seven-metre-high waves and 140 kilometre-an-hour winds at the time. 

Officials decided it was too dangerous to try to re-attach the line to the former Russian cruise ship in those high seas.

After the Orlova broke free of the Hunt on Jan. 24, it was picked up by the Atlantic Hawk, an oil industry supply vessel, on Jan. 30.

The Orlova was then transferred to the supply vessel hired by Transport Canada on Feb. 1.

Tracking device

The agency said there is a tracking device aboard the Orlova, and the ship was last reported to be drifting in a north-easterly direction.

Meanwhile, Transportation Safety Board officials have arrived in Newfoundland to investigate how the Orlova originally ended up adrift.