British Columbia

Hanjin cargo ship docks in Vancouver after weeks of uncertainty

One of the two Korean ships that have been anchored in Canadian waters for weeks docked in Vancouver on Thursday, allowing its cargo to be unloaded and provisions brought aboard for the stranded crew.

Crew from Korea was stuck in Prince Rupert for nearly two months after company filed for bankruptcy

Hanjin Scarlet docks at the Port of Vancouver's shipping container terminal on Thursday. Crew from the Korean ship spent weeks of uncertainty aboard the vessel after Hanjin Shipping declared receivership in August. (Peter Lahay)

A container ship that was anchored near Prince Rupert since the end of August finally docked in Vancouver on Thursday.

The Scarlet is one of two Korean ships in Canadian waters that have been in limbo since Hanjin — the world's seventh largest shipping line — filed for bankruptcy.

The other, the Vienna, is anchored near Victoria.

For the nearly 50 crew members aboard the two ships, waiting to discover when and how their journeys would end has been difficult.

Peter Lahay is the national coordinator for the International Transport Workers' Federation. He's been advocating on behalf of the crew and says conditions on board were bad, especially for the Scarlet.

"There are two or three things that go into a ship that's operating correctly. One is they have adequate food and provisions and the other [is] water, recreation and something to do," he said.

Hanjin Scarlet motors toward the Port of Vancouver. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

"[Scarlet] was stuck at an anchorage at a very, very remote, isolated location on the Northern British Columbia coast all by themselves. They had no other vessels around them, nothing. All that they were looking at was trees and islands and whales going by."

"The captain didn't have any answers for the crew, his emails were going ignored by Hanjin," said Lahay.

Now that the ship has docked, some crew members are learning their fates, and morale is improving, according to Lahay.

"There's a lot of joy in the crew, particularly from those going home," he said. "I think it's about 13 crew who are leaving the vessel and about a similar number will stay on board."

Roughly half the crew will have to stay with the boat for some time to come in order to maintain it — but they will get paid. They also got the chance to walk on land on Thursday for the first time since the ship left Asia.

The workers who get to go home will be allowed off the boat at some time on Friday.

The Scarlet travels through Burrard Inlet on Thursday after nearly two months anchored near Prince Rupert. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

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