Opinion Editorial

An ode to the life and times of the MS Lord Selkirk II

Selkirk Journal

Hopefully this is the last voyage for the MS Lord Selkirk II.

Upon a quick Google search it is made apparent just how much this vessel has gone through, more than most in a lifetime. First launched in the iconic summer of ’69, the lady went on to make quite the splash sailing the waters of the Red River and Lake Winnipeg.

At first the ship’s future was bright, just like a newborn child. The Lord Selkirk was the biggest cruise ship built between the Great Lakes and the Rockies. The boat held 130 passengers and up to 40 crew members. Over her 17 years on the water, the MS Lord Selkirk sailed multiple times a day and offered her passengers a game room, dining area and a lounge with live entertainment. Part of the reason the vessel became famous was because some of her passengers included Queen Elizabeth II and Edward Schreyer, the Premier of Manitoba at the time. However, the MS Lord Selkirk’s journey since she retired in 1990 has been the one making shocking headlines.

Having now been rotting in Selkirk’s slough for longer than she was in service, the MS Lord Selkirk has had a tough go at retirement.

The ship can be described as rusted and broken, showing more than just her age. With every passing year City of Selkirk councillors call her more of an ‘eyesore’, and her gloomy hull seems to almost haunt Selkirk Park. Her situation was made no better by the derelicts she attracted. The first big blow to the MS Lord Selkirk’s esteem came on June 19, 2012.

The once prestigious cruiser was set ablaze. The fire engulfed two floors of the ship and it took local emergency crews more than six hours to put the flames out. While there was minimal value to the ship at the time, aside from the scrap price, this is where the MS Lord Selkirk took a turn downhill.

The condition of the boat prior to the blaze seems a mere blemish compared to the state it was in after. Silver lining, it was that incident that really seemed to get the ball moving on getting the dilapidated vessel out of the water for good.

Which leads to the MS Lord Selkirk’s second blow to her esteem. A report issued this past March proved she is a detriment to our environment and watershed.

She is in the later stage of her life. With the last few good years she has left, she is definitely making her mark.

The MS Lord Selkirk has been leaching hazardous materials into the Red River including arsenic and lead in addition to having asbestos-containing materials. Out of seven test sites, all seven tested positive for evidence of pollution. The levels of the metals being leached are also proven to be a danger to aquatic life. The front hull pocket is the worst of the seven sites, as it has the highest levels of mercury, lead, chromium, manganese, cobalt, nickel, rubidium, strontium and barium.

Time to bring in the surgeons.

The Canadian Coast Guard was on-site last week in an attempt to get the MS Lord Selkirk to take one last kick at the cat. They found a door that was open to the boat’s engine compartment submerged in water. A diver was sent to close the door, and they proceeded to pump out water from the vessel so the MS Lord Selkirk could float once more. Almost poetic. Once she has risen all of the hydrocarbons, such as oils and fuel, will be removed. Then, remediation will take place to remove asbestos and mould.

While the MS Lord Selkirk won’t be back to her old self, she will become a ‘healthy work environment’, which will seal her fate. After the remediation takes place the ship will finally be destroyed, and her journey will finally reach a conclusion.

It is safe to say the voyage the MS Lord Selkirk has been on is alike no other. Hopefully in the last stages of her journey she can keep a little dignity.


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