Ghost Ships: A hazard to shipping & the environment


The Lyubov Orlova named for a Russian film star from the 30s once glided through Arctic waters on high-cost tours. Today it is rusty, derelict and - we think - a haven for rats floating aimlessly, dangerously somewhere in the North Atlantic. Today, we look at the Ghost Ship from St. John's that now haunts anyone who cares about marine safety.

Oceanographer, Brad De Young

Somewhere out on the North Atlantic Ocean, a 4,000 ton, abandoned cruise ship that's just a shade smaller than a football field is floating adrift. In its prime, the MV Lyubov Orlova carried 200 well-heeled passengers for summer cruises to the Arctic.

Now, it is a stripped down, abandoned ghost ship with no power and no crew. In the fall of 2010, the company that owned the Lyubov Orlova went bankrupt. Its Russian crew was abandoned without pay and the ship settled in a berth on the St. John's waterfront.

Over time, it developed a list, and slid into disrepair while it was sold and re-sold multiple times. In December, a man named Reza Shoeybi bought the ship with the idea of towing it to the Dominican Republic to be sold for scrap.

But things didn't go as planned. Reza Shoeybi is still in St. John's, living aboard the tug boat Charlene Hunt, which is currently under investigation for its fitness to transport the Lyubov Orlova.

The Current's Heather Barrett went out to pay Mr. Shoeybi a visit.

Brad De Young thinks he has a handle on where the Lyubov Orlova may be headed and the havoc it could wreck along the way. Brad De Young is an Oceanographer at Memorial University in St. John's.

National Chair of Canadian Bar Association's Maritime Law Section, Will Cahill

With the Lyubov Orlova lost in international waters, all sorts of questions are being raised about who is legally responsible for the vessel.

Will Cahill is a lawyer with the St John's office of Cox & Palmer. He's also the National Chair of the Canadian Bar Association's Maritime Law Section. Will Cahill was in St John's.

Conservation Biologist, Nick Mallos

There's something decidedly creepy about a decaying, abandoned ship just floating aimlessly across an empty ocean. And according to Nick Mallos, ghost ships are more common than you might think. He is a Conservation Biologist and Marine Debris Specialist with Ocean Conservancy, an advocacy group that works to protect the world's oceans. Nick Mallos was in Washington, D.C.


The Canadian Coast Guard, Transport Canada and Reza Shoeybi may have lost track of the Lyubov Orlova, but that doesn't mean the ship has been silent. Someone using the Twitter handle @LyubovOrlovaNL has been tweeting on behalf of the ship, as she drifts somewhere in the North Atlantic ocean.

This segment was produced by The Current's Josh Bloch and St. John's Network Producer, Heather Barrett.

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