Monday, October 20, 2014

Let's meet the Simushir


(Video courtesy of Council of Haida Nation You Tube channel)

Having safely arrived in port at Prince Rupert and currently tied up at the north end of Fairview Terminal to await repairs, the tale of the Simushir is for the moment going to be the latest chapter for the ongoing archive of marine events off of the North Coast.

The Russian vessel, which has been the focus of the news cycle of the last 48 hours, will continue to provide for conversation and examination, as attention turns now to the state of readiness on the North Coast and Haida Gwaii when it comes to marine emergencies.

Over the weekend, residents of Haida Gwaii watched with concern, while those on the North Coast and the rest of the province observed events with more than a passing interest as the Canadian Coast Guard, assisted by the Canadian military and US Coast Guard, launched a major maritime operation.

First to airlift the injured master of the vessel to seek medical care and then to secure the Simushir to the Coast Guard ship Gordon Reid. A process which stabilized the situation, and bought some time until the Canadian Coast Guard Wilfrid Laurier and her American counterpart the USGS Spar arrived on station to lend assistance and stand by should things take shift for the worst.

By Sunday the ocean going tug Barbara Foss had arrived to take over the transit,  delivering the Simushir to Prince Rupert in the early hours of Monday morning.

Such was the interest in the dangers faced by the ship that a Facebook page for the Simushir was quickly put together and a similar themed location on twitter #simushir  as well as the  #PrinceRupert handle were heavily used to access updates.

Simushir at Fairview Terminal, photo from
Prince Rupert Port Authority twitter feed
Another view of the Simushir
from the Prince Rupert Port Authority

Now that the Simushir is alongside in Prince Rupert, lets see what we can learn about our temporary dockside guest, a vessel that it appears has had a run in with fame previous.

The vessel, is a part of the fleet of the Sakhalin Shipping company (SASCO), and according to the specifications page of the company was built in 1998 at the Biljisma Shipyard in the Netherlands.

The Simushir shipping schedule appears to have it on a regular transit between Washington State and points across the North Pacific on the Russian and Asian side of the ocean.

Once known as the Muntebor, the ship was renamed to her current listing, in what perhaps is a nod to what are described as one of the abandoned islands of the Kuril Islands of the Russian North Pacific coast.

For many making use of the google search engine, the word Simushir brought speedy results and an avalanche of information, loading up browsers with items related to the drama facing the vessel of the last 72 hours or so and from days beyond.

For those who would dig a little deeper into the Simushir's past, some less recent additions would highlight that this weekend was not the first time that the Russian vessel has been involved in a marine incident in 2014.

In May, the Simushir made the news when it collided with a South Korean fishing vessel in waters off of South Korea. An event that at the time resulted in the freighter being detained by South Korean officials.

Russian general cargo vessel collides with South Korean fishing vessel
Freighter Simushir detained by ROK after collision with fishing vessel

2014 clearly hasn't been a five star year for the vessel, though her latest troubles could have happened to any ship travelling on the oceans in the midst of near hurricane conditions.

Sunday the Prince Rupert Port Authority outlined through its twitter feed, that the Simushir will be at its berth on the north dock of Fairview terminals for no more than 48 hours, as repairs are made to the issues that resulted in the ship losing her power.

The Port Authority has also posted a number of photos of the vessel as it holds at Fairview awaiting those repairs (see here).

We imagine, that the crew will be glad when they can head back to their home base of Kholmsk and get a bit of time away from the Simushir.

But while they're in port in Prince Rupert, it's safe to say that the guests and their vessel will be one of the top topics of conversation around the city.

You can review the events from Friday on through the weekend from our archive page here.

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