Scorpion Submarine

Scorpion, foreground, a former Soviet submarine that became a Los Angeles-area tourist attraction and is expected to be sold, is docked next to the Queen Mary.

The rusting, former Soviet submarine that’s been anchored off the Queen Mary in Long Beach for 21 years appears to be on its way out, though it’s unknown who the prospective buyer is.

The possible sale was first reported by the Los Angeles Times. But Urban Commons, the firm that leases the Queen Mary and the Scorpion submarine, confirmed the potential sale to the Press-Telegram on Tuesday, Nov. 19.

“Urban Commons is currently negotiating the terms of the sale of the submarine with a prospective buyer,” said Taylor Woods, the company’s founder and principal, “so no sale has been made or finalized at this time.”

Woods declined to provide additional details.

A representative for the submarine’s owner, NewCo Pty Ltd., based in Palm Springs, declined to comment on the sale. Neither Newco nor Urban Commons revealed the prospective buyer’s identity.

But the company’s attorney, Robert Lisnow, said he may be able to comment on the topic in the near future.

For now, though, he said, “my lips are sealed.”

The submarine has spent years in disrepair. Its problems became so severe that Newco filed a $10 million lawsuit in 2016 against a former and a current lease holder, Save the Queen LLC and Urban Commons, respectively; the suit also named Garrison Investment Group, which Save the Queen hired to manage, maintain and repair the Scorpion.

Court documents show the two sides reached a “conditional settlement” but did not provide further details on that agreement. The case was dismissed last year.

“The case has been litigated and settled,” Lisnow said.

The submarine’s fate, meanwhile, has remained in question.

The submarine welcomed visitors for 17 years. But in 2015, the hull ruptured and flooded a ballast tank, leading to the attraction’s closure. It has remained closed to the public ever since.

In one 2017 blueprint for the still-forthcoming Queen Mary Island development, it appeared Urban Commons had no plans to keep the sub, which was built in 1972.

“I see that we’re being replaced by a bunch of sand,” Ed Skowron, Newco’s principal, said at the time.

Dan Zaharoni, chief development officer for Urban Commons, addressed the absence.

“Our plans for Queen Mary Island currently do not include The Scorpion because the lease is controlled by another party,” Zaharoni said then. “In its current state, the vessel is inoperable and until it becomes operable again, we are unable to make plans for its future.”

The status of the submarine has not improved in the years since.

In an independent report from June, inspector Edward Pribonic described the submarine’s decay as “a worsening hazard to the Queen Mary.

“It is urgent that this vessel be removed from the moat and disposed of,” Pribonic wrote. “Failure of the pressure hull would cause the vessel to sink, possibly striking or lodging beneath the Queen, and perhaps send pollutants directly into the moat.”

Now, it appears, the submarine may finally be removed.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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