Chancery Court Judge Jaye Bradley heard a desperate appeal from a group trying to save a wrecked ship from being lost to history today. Bryan Leveritt, head of the non-profit group St Christopher Services, stood before the court like the orphan child Oliver and asked for “More, please”. In the case at hand instead of porridge, Leveritt asked for more time.
The time he asked for is to allow his group to pry the nearly century old St Christopher of the Caymans from its muddy rest in the bayou along the Pascagoula River. The ship was left there by 1998’s Hurricane Georges after which Leveritt’s group purchased the stricken vessel for use as a medical mission ship to third world countries. Since the ship was high and dry in the swamp grass and mimosa, a canal had to be dug to free it. The past thirteen years have been an epic struggle against the bayou, riverine theft rings, the phenomenal weather of Hurricane Katrina, and the negative economic effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Many times the organization came close to freeing the ship only to be set back by the most unforeseen circumstances. For instance, Leveritt states that the ship was days away from being removed when the Deepwater Horizon oil spill caused the barge his group had secured to be taken up for the more lucrative cleanup operation without any replacement. In 2001 with the original canal dug and ready to move the ship, Hurricane Katrina picked up the schooner and tossed her fifty feet further into the mosquito-filled woods.
Now the Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources (MCMR) has lost patience with the organization and their battered, rusty ship. In 2010 they declined to renew the permit for the canal and turned the matter of filling it over to the State Attorney General’s office.
Leveritt states that he may have struck a chord of sympathy and states in an interview that he has talked Judge Bradley and the MCMR counsel to tour the historic ship in its current location next week before passing a decision on its fate. He states that if the canal is ordered closed then the ship may have found her final resting place.