Oldest wooden tugboat in B.C. dismantled

Feb 11, 2022

Completed in 1905, the MV Sea Lion is the oldest wooden tugboat in B.C., but it will soon be scrapped over environmental concerns.

The 116-year-old vessel has sat derelict in Maple Bay for the last five years after the death of its previous owner. It was deemed an environment hazard by the federal government, as well as the Canadian Coast Guard, and was recently towed to the Canadian Maritime Engineering (CME) site in Nanaimo to be dismantled. “I’m sad to see it go,” says Jim Drummond, project manager for CME.

The 39-metre-long ship was constructed with a 33-metre keel made of solid wood, as well as wood planks measuring as long as 18 metres. The craftsmanship that went into the ship has awed the disposal crews. “All the fine joinery and woodwork they did without the use of any power tools is an amazing accomplishment,” says Drummond.

The vessel was a tug up until the early 1970s, before it changed hands several times becoming a live-aboard, a charter boat and even a fishing camp lodge.

Maritime societies inquired about restoring the ship, but the cost to do so would have been in the millions of dollars. “We are going to have to pick that up in pictures and stories,” added Drummond. “The opportunity to have it as any kind of museum or heritage piece was too much.”

The MV Sea Lion is now a hollow shell of its former self and is expected to be fully dismantled and properly disposed of before the new year. The Royal BC Museum has requested identifiable artifacts that have been removed from the ship.

Source: CTV News, Vancouver Island