Stranded Hanjin Vienna sold for scrap iron, Hanjin Scarlett also for sale

After spending more than 6 months stranded in the waters off southern Vancouver Island, the container ship Hanjin Vienna has been sold for scrap. The German-owned ship had been leased to South Korea's Hanjin Shipping company, which was declared bankrupt, owing billions of dollars in debt.

Peter Lahay, the Canadian co-coordinator for the International Transport Workers' Federation, estimates the ship will net between $6 and 11-million for it's scrap iron.

Lahay says it's a very depressed market for ships of that size, vintage and tonnage right now.

" The vessel that we're talking about, the Hanjin Vienna, was built in 2000. So she's kind of getting to the end of her operational life anyway. You know, probably in a buoyant market it could probably go for 2, or 3, or 5 more years. But there's just too many ships competing for too few cargoes right now."

Lahay blames ship owners for failing to adjust to market conditions, saying they built more and larger ships when markets were strong, but after the crash of 2008 when the shipping market was devastated, they continued to build.

He says the biggest tragedy is the crews who are caught in the middle, and often far from home.  Another ship, the Hanjin Scarlett, was also stranded -- mooring off Cowichan.  It's also for sale.

Lahay says residents of Victoria and the Gulf Islands really stepped up to help the crews, delivering supplies and even Christmas gifts to the stranded ships. He says those gestures will never be forgotten.

"I'd like to express appreciation for the people of Victoria, and the people of the Gulf Islands who were watching over not just the Hanjin Vienna, but also the Hanjin Scarlett.  Folks were super, especially around the holiday season, bringing out supplies to the crew, and basically just bringing greetings of friendship  and things like that.  It was a really, really enormous outpouring."

Lahay adds the maritime unions  in the lower mainland -- BC Ferries and Marine Workers Union, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union -- both stepped up, organizing boats and packages for the crew.  He says crews on both vessels will never forget British Columbians.

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