On November 30 2016 my wife and I took the Coho ferry from Port Angeles, Washington across the 10-mile wide Strait of Juan de Fuca to Victoria, British Columbia to visit the museum there and a fantastic ice age exhibit. On the way over, and then again the next day coming back, we passed an anchored Hanjin container ship lying about four miles from Victoria, almost in the middle of the Strait, it seemed. The ship was dark, entirely empty of containers, just sitting there. In the late summer of 2016 Hanjin went bankrupt. Its fleet was basically abandoned, owned and leased ships. Some managed to get back to their home port, but others, once discharged of cargo, were placed in limbo. They had crews but no funds, and so they couldn’t berth anywhere accruing charges, no terminal would have them, and all over the world these ships anchored or found a place somewhere to tie up. One of those ships was that ship we saw from the Coho. She had a full crew – 22 people – and they had been on the ship, anchored there, since before the end of last summer, and for all I know she lies there still. She was there Christmas when the crew were delivered some holiday things. The ship they were working on was leased, not owned by Hanjin, and the ship’s owner has been ferrying food to the crew at anchor.
Imagine….you’re on the hook far from land, alone, stores steadily diminishing, fuel being burned for generators, not being paid, unable to get off the ship, with no idea of when you will get home, or get paid, spending each day in deadly routine, chipping rust, repairing, touring the vessel, staying busy, just staying busy. They’ve been there now since early September, and as of Christmas that’s four months, and my guess is the ship is still there, though maybe by now Hanjin has found a godmother to take over the ships and bring them home.
Those poor guys….the Coho doesn’t pass that close to the ship, a few miles away, but I am sure the Coho can be seen from the Hanjin ship, a bright little ferry filled with eager and happy tourists heading somewhere, passing by, probably with no thought or understanding of the prison that anchored ship has become…..