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Howe Sound vessel riles Squamish mariners

Owner says freighter isn't at risk of sinking and he's abiding by the law



A freighter moored off Nexen Beach in Howe Sound is causing concern in Squamish.

The ship was moved from the waters near Woodfibre some time between March 7 and 8 to its current location tied to a buoy at the tip of Howe Sound. The move came about after Western Forest Products got a court injunction forcing the owner of the vessel to move it off the company's Woodfibre water lot where it was tied up for more than three months.

The rusting vessel is now fully visible from Highway 99 and the Squamish waterfront. Along with social media complaints about it being an eyesore there are concerns it might sink and contaminate Howe Sound.

Chris Tamburri, a local mariner who calls himself a channel watcher, said there's a community groundswell of public opinion forming against the person who parked the vessel in its current location.

"The yacht club isn't happy, the District of Squamish is trying to do something about it and Transport Canada is in the process of making new regulations that will help the other government bodies to deal with stuff like this," said Tamburri.

The vessel is under the care of Steen Larsen, who said he is following maritime law.

"Everything I'm doing is done in accordance with the Canada Shipping Act and the navigation act and all the other related laws," Larsen said.

Tamburri noted the vessel is listing. He said that could be a sign the ship is taking on water. According to Larsen, the vessel is listing because heavy pieces of equipment called spuds are laid on the deck. The spuds had to be taken from their normal position on the ship to reduce the vessel height so the freighter could fit under the Seattle West Bridge when it was towed to Howe Sound.

"They weigh somewhere around 18,000 lbs (8,000 kg) apiece and they're lying on the starboard side," said Larsen. "Because the holds are empty then it will have a list."

Larsen referred all further questions to his lawyer, Joe Spears.

According to Spears, the vessel is now owned by Jacobsen Industrial and Marine. Larsen is the company's general manager. He has plans for the ship but Spears wouldn't specify what the plans are.

"It's not a derelict — it's not abandoned," said Spears. He added that the Coast Guard and Transport Canada officials have inspected the vessel, which was once used as a freezer vessel by an Alaska fishing company.

"There's no pollutants on board," said Spears.

This isn't Larsen's first maritime controversy. He was the caretaker of the Elf, the tug that sank in the Mamquam Blind Channel on Jan. 14 and leaked fuel. Larsen alleges the Elf was intentionally scuttled. He owns, or cares for, a number of vessels on the Mamquam Blind Channel waters in the area where International Forest Products had water operations connected to the sawmill it owned in Squamish.