SHELBURNE - Weeks of work by contractors and the Canadian Coast Guard came to fruition as the rusty remains of a ship that used to be the MV Farley Mowat were safely brought back to the top of the water.
Coast Guard officials and contractors at the site were busy removing pumps and equipment as they began cleaning up, their work almost complete.
“I expect we’ll be out of here by Friday,” said Keith Laidlaw, Coast Guard senior response officer.
A sheen of oil remained at the surface of the water on Sunday. Laidlaw said a patrol aircraft found that a little more than 11 litres of oil had escaped the containment booms in Shelburne Harbour during the operation to raise the vessel.
Canadian Coast Guard officials had hoped to get the ship raised in July but the operation became bogged down this summer as crews patched a myriad of holes on the stripped vessel. Large steel patches had to be bolted into place by cranes and divers and more than a dozen submersible pumps had been installed inside the vessel.
The derelict ship sank at the Shelburne wharf on June 25. It had languished at the wharf for months and town officials had begun legal action to recover berthage fees when the vessel began slipping under the water. Firefighters and Coast Guard members refused to board the vessel as it slowly sank due to safety concerns.
A month after the sinking, the vessel was still emitting some pollution, largely contained within a double boom surrounding it.
Coast Guard officials have estimated the entire amount emitted after the sinking was less than 37 litres. More than 2000 litres of pollutants were eventually removed from inside the hull and five oil-filled barrels that escaped the ship had been recovered.
The owner of the vessel will eventually receive a bill for the clean-up effort and failing that, the costs will be paid through a federal pollution contingency fund paid for by oil transportation companies.
The ship was originally built as a Norwegian fisheries research and enforcement vessel and was purchased in 1996 by the Sea Shepherd society. In 2002, it was renamed after Canadian writer Farley Mowat and used to monitor what the society called the unethical and barbaric killing of seals.
It was seized by an RCMP tactical squad in the Cabot Strait in waters off Cape Breton in 2008. Two senior crew of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, were also arrested, charged and later found guilty of interfering with Canada's East Coast seal hunt and endangering the lives of sealers out on the ice floes.
The vessel was later sold and found its way to Lunenburg in 2010 for what was to be a refit for operation as an expedition vessel for research in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
That refit never happened and within a year the ship was on the market again to cover unpaid docking fees.
The Town of Shelburne had recently begun legal action against the owner for unpaid berthage fees. There hadn’t been any fees paid since the vessel’s arrival in September.