A once well known Canadian tanker has reached the end of the line after a storied career. A report dated June 23 says that the ship has been sold to breakers.
Thalassa Desgagnés had been a fixture on the Great Lakes,
St.Lawrence and east coast as a dedicated asphalt / black oil tanker
since 1993, and thanks to its owners, outlived many
tankers of the same vintage.
Built in 1976 by Ankerlokken Verft Glommen A/S in Frederikstad, Norway, as Joasla, the ship was ice strengthened and double hulled with cargo heating coils. It became Orinoco in 1979 for Swedish owners, then in 1981 it was renamed Rio Orinoco and flagged in the Cayman Islands.
On October 1990 while inbound in the Gulf of St.Lawrence with an asphalt cargo, it experienced engine trouble and anchored off Port Menier, Anticosti Island. It was unable to maintain the anchorage and drifted ashore October 16. The crew were evacuated by helicopter in a dramatic rescue operation in crashing seas, and the ship was feared lost.
But the ever resourceful Transport Desgagnés operators recognized an opportunity, and on a "no cure / no pay" basis salvaged the ship the following spring and summer. The asphalt cargo had solidified, holding the ship in place and preventing major pollution. Re-liquefying some of the cargo to lighten the ship enough for refloating was accomplished using the ships own boilers, and improvised heating pipes. (The ship'sown heating coils were on the bottom and assumed to be badly damaged.) The lightened ship, with solidified asphalt plugs in the perforated hull, was then towed to Quebec City arriving August 23, 1991 where the remainder of the cargo was removed. The ship was laid up until the salvage claim could be settled in arbitration.
It called in Halifax numerous times with asphalt, but also with Bunker C fuel for the Nova Scotia Power plant at Tuft's Cove. It also carried heavy fuel from Halifax when Imperial Oil's refinery was in operation.
Thalassa Desgagnés was laid up in Montreal in 2016 in anticipation of its replacement by a new ship and was sold late in the year. Early in 2017 its new owners gave it the name Asphalt Princess and at an age when most tankers would have been scrapped, it resumed service. It was 17 years old when it was declared a total loss, but put in an added 22 years of service after rebuild - a remarkable story.
But that was not the end of the story:
The ship was working in the Gulf of Oman on August 3, 2021 when five or six armed gunmen boarded the ship, apparently with the intent of hijacking it to the port of Jask in Iran. The crew managed to send out a radio plea for help, then disabled the engines so the ship could not move. The hijackers were soon scared off when British and Omani warships responded.
Follow up stories are hard to find, but the ship was apparently taken to the port of Khor al Fakkam in the United Arab Emirates and laid up. Presumably by this time it was not worth repairing, and may even have been abandoned by Owners. In any event it is now reported sold for scrap, but has not yet moved to a scrapyard.