The 53 metre long ship spotted heading for Canada with hundreds of Tamil asylum seekers in 2010 (MCpl Angela Abbey-Combat Camera)

2010 Tamil migrant ship: expensive, toxic legacy


A tired tramp steamer called the MV Sun Sea  was a the heart of an international incident in 2010.

Originally built in 1980 the 53 metre-long ship was loaded with 492 Sri Lankan Tamil migrants in Thailand and then headed for Canada. The migrants who paid between $20,000 and $30,000 each would later claim asylum.

Three of the four Tamils accused of being behind the smuggling were later acquitted.

The alleged “captain” is currently fighting a deportation order in Canadian courts, as are about a dozen other cases, now eight years after the ship arrived.

As the controversial process of letting the ship land and then process the claims, the ship itself became an issue. An actual owner could never be determined, and no one claimed it so the federal government had to take it over.

The ship pictured sitting and slowly deteriorating at a government dock in British Columbia (Google Earth)

The government tried for years to find a buyer, and in the interval it has cost taxpayers close to a million dollars for storage, maintenance and removal of various fuels and chemicals.

Sitting at the government dock in November 2013. The ship was built in 1980 as the Hifuku Maru No2, later becoming the Harin Panich 19, and finally ending as the MV Sun Sea, a toxic problem for Canadian taxpayers waiting to be scrapped. (Dirk

A recent report said the ship condition is worsening, and the federal government is now looking at how to dismantle and dispose of the ship. That will not be easy or inexpensive due to strict environmental rules.

Some reports say a family of raccoons has begun living aboard the rusting vessel.

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Posted in Economy, Environment, Immigration & Refugees, Politics

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