Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
The unpleasant sight of several submerged vessels stacked along the shoreline at Baughers Bay persists close to two years after Hurricane Earl impacted the Territory.
The vessels, which are described by officials as derelict, have remained untouched for the most part as the Government explores legal avenues to have the vessels removed.
Governor Boyd McCleary said that he was briefed on the status of the vessels on Wednesday, August 22 ahead of the passage of Tropical Storm Isaac.
The Governor was asked during a press conference why it has taken so long to have the vessels removed.
"Why did it take so long? These things can't be done overnight. There are complications about the legal situation and we are trying to resolve those legal complications," Governor McCleary stated.
He added that the legal situation is being reviewed by the Attorney General Chambers.
The Governor said that discussions have been held with the Ports Authority and the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry (VISR) about the vessels. He shared that the Premier's Office is going to look into the matter to see if the vessels can be secured.
According to the Governor, there is a new Disaster Management Act which is before the House of Assembly, which gives more legal grounds to deal with the removal of derelict vessels.
"I think until we clarify the legal situation to give us the power to take action against the boats that we want to, we wouldn't be able to take that action, but the new law will give us the option of taking further action," the Governor stated.
In February, Minister for Communications and Works, Hon. Mark Vanterpool said that the process required Government to put forward a request to the Director of the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry.
"I do not have the okay to get rid of them. I have began the process to get that okay," Minister Vanterpool had stated.
He explained that the process requires the Ministry to put forward a case to VISR to declare the vessels derelict.
"There are a lot of issues connected with them [vessels] - insurance issues, ownership issues and so on. So we are waiting until those issues are sorted out. As soon as that happens, we do have interested parties who have offered and proposed the removal of them [vessels] and we are entertaining some of those proposals when and if we are able to remove them," Minister Vanterpool stated.
Shortly after the passage of Hurricane Earl, Governor Boyd McCleary had announced plans to hold discussions with the BVI Ports Authority on the removal of the vessels. At that time, the Governor recognized that the vessels posed a significant difficulty during the recovery exercise following Hurricane Earl.
Most of the vessels which were damaged had not functioned for many months prior to the hurricane and had become living quarters for some residents.