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Protecteur slides into Liverpool Harbour leading to hopes of a new industry

A group of people gather in Brooklyn early Friday morning to watch the former navy vessel, the Protecteur, slip into Liverpool Harbour.
A group of people gather in Brooklyn early Friday morning to watch the former navy vessel, the Protecteur, slip into Liverpool Harbour.

BROOKLYN - Anna Dunlop of Liverpool had been waiting for this day all week.

She was one of the first people on the water at 7 a.m. Friday morning to watch the former navy vessel Protecteur being towed into Liverpool Harbour to be recycled.

 “Its so nice to see a ship come in the harbour again,” she says. “I’ve watched the tugs, the barges, and the other Mersey boats all these years, and I could hardly wait. Just to see a ship come in again.”

 The ship was brought in by R.J. MacIsaac Ltd. of Antigonish, the company which secured a $39 million contract with the federal government to recycle and dispose of the Protecteur and it’s sister ship, the Algonquin, which will be heading to Liverpool next month.

 The ships will be dismantled and the parts recycled over the next two years at the site of the former Bowater Mersey paper mill, which closed in 2012.

 Since then, the harbour has been virtually empty of large vessels.

  “We live by the sea, and we have the sea in our blood, and ships are pretty special,” says Dunlop.

  The ship was towed into the harbour by two Irving-owned tugs. The tow started at about 7 a.m. and the ship was tied up shortly after 8:30 a.m.

She was one of the first people on the water at 7 a.m. Friday morning to watch the former navy vessel Protecteur being towed into Liverpool Harbour to be recycled.

 “Its so nice to see a ship come in the harbour again,” she says. “I’ve watched the tugs, the barges, and the other Mersey boats all these years, and I could hardly wait. Just to see a ship come in again.”

 The ship was brought in by R.J. MacIsaac Ltd. of Antigonish, the company which secured a $39 million contract with the federal government to recycle and dispose of the Protecteur and it’s sister ship, the Algonquin, which will be heading to Liverpool next month.

 The ships will be dismantled and the parts recycled over the next two years at the site of the former Bowater Mersey paper mill, which closed in 2012.

 Since then, the harbour has been virtually empty of large vessels.

  “We live by the sea, and we have the sea in our blood, and ships are pretty special,” says Dunlop.

  The ship was towed into the harbour by two Irving-owned tugs. The tow started at about 7 a.m. and the ship was tied up shortly after 8:30 a.m.

 Roger Rafuse worked at the Bowater mill for 40 years. He was on the shore in Brooklyn to watch the ship slide in.

 “I saw a lot of boats come in, loading paper, unloading coal, but that is a sight, isn’t it? That’s a beautiful sight right there.”

  Cathy and Rick Gilbert of Liverpool were both there bright and early as well.

  “I hope that this is a common thing for Liverpool,” says Rick Gilbert. “If MacIsaac sets up and does a good job with these two vessels then maybe they’ll get some more contracts and have a continuing process. That would be nice to get our buildings in port to good use. It would be great.”

 But everyone watching was well aware that they were watching the end of a ship’s life, as well as the beginning of a possible new industry for Liverpool.

 “It’s sad for the guys who served onboard, its really sad for them probably, they probably have fond memories,” says Gilbert.

  About 50 people will be employed in the process of recycling the two vessels – about 20 of them local.

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