Epitaph: M/V Polar Star
Wickersham's Conscience January 20, 2012
Readers will recall WC was a passenger in November-December 2010 on the M/V Polar Star in the Southern Ocean. Out of a kind of morbid fascination, WC has followed the sad events since her grounding in October 2011 on an uncharted rock off the Antarctic Peninsula. Here’s WC’s first report; here’s the first update.
It’s remarkably hard to find current on-line news of the ship. For what it’s worth, this was one of the hardest blog posts to research that WC has done. But it seems very likely the Astican Shipyard’s maritime lien against her will be foreclosed by a Spanish court, and she will be sold at public auction for scrap. Here is an on-line photo of her in dry dock in the Canary Islands.
M/V Polar Star in Dry Dock, Astican Shipyard, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, July 2011; photo by CHARRN
There are unindexed Receiver’s Reports for the Karlsen Shipping receivership. The Second Report of Receiver dated September 27, 2011 summarizes the receiver’s analysis of the financial value of the ship. Partially because her engines will have to be replaced (something the Captain told WC back in 2010) it’s very difficult to find financing. It would cost $2.5 million just to get her out of the Atiscan Shipyard. That’s before the engine refit, which would have to include conversion to diesel fuel to comply with changes in ship requirements in the arctic and antarctic scheduled for 2014. In the Second Report, the receiver concludes:
Based upon the above, the Receiver has concluded that there is little prospect of any significant return to creditors by continuing to actively pursue the sale of the Ship. The net proceeds are unlikely to exceed the amounts owed to the lien holders.
Therefore the Receiver has concluded that the Ship be abandoned to the Astican Shipyard and the Receiver shall assist the shipyard, if required, as regards any local judicial sale of the Ship.
In the Receiver’s Third Report dated October 27, the receiver simply says:
The M/V “Polar Star” remains at the Astican Shipyard in Las Palmas, Spain as reported in our Second Report. All interested parties are being directed by the Receiver to the solicitor representing the shipyard.
Readers will recall that in November Cheeseman’s Safaris had scathing criticisms of the Astican Shipyard and the receiver for their failure to protect the ship against the elements. If you look at the area behind the stack, there’s black rags? Those are the remains of the Zodiac rafts used to move passengers around. The ultraviolet in tropical sunlight is not kind to Zodiac fabrics. If the interior of the ship is in as bad a condition as the Zodiacs, Ted Cheeseman was exactly right.
But by the time Ted Cheeseman and his prospective buyer got there, the decision was already made.
A sad, sad end to a great ship.