Last week, Havila Kystruten received all of the necessary certificates from the Norwegian Maritime Directorate (NMD).
This meant that the coastal cruise ship ‘Havila Capella’ was fully insured and could restart operations along the Norwegian coast.
‘Havila Capella’ has been idle in Bergen since 12th April, when the insurance companies terminated their contracts on the ship, due to the EU’s sanctions against the leasing company GTLK Asia, due to its Russian connections.
Havila said that it had also been working on solutions to take over ownership of the ship. This included filing a case at the High Court of England & Wales in London to force a change of ownership of the ship.
At the same time, the shipping company, through a petition to Norway’s Hordaland District Court on 16th June, demanded temporary arrest and forced use to operate ‘Havila Capella’.
On 20th June, a ruling came from the District Court upholding the company`s request.
“Through the ruling from Hordaland District Court, we have been given the role of principal administrator of ‘Havila Capella’, with all the rights that a registered owner has,” CEO Bent Martini explained.
“The Norwegian Maritime Directorate has now issued valid certificates for ‘Havila Capella’ to Havila Kystruten, which means that we have received valid P&I insurance with assistance from the insurance company Skuld.
“Over the next few days, we will seek to conclude the hull insurance for the ship, meaning ‘Havila Capella’ can resume operations from 28th June, when she will embark on her next voyage along the Norwegian coast,” he explained.
Martini also pointed out that Havila Kystruten has had good collaboration and good dialogue with the NMD on the matter.
“It has been important for us to secure our values, and not least our greatest resource – our employees. We have always believed that we would find a solution and have chosen to keep everyone at work. We are pleased with that decision now. We have crew on board who have shown a great willingness to deal with a demanding situation, and who are now very much looking forward to showing off the best of the Norwegian coast to our guests.
“It is also very important for our company to get ‘Havila Capella’ back in operation. It is of great importance to the coastal communities and Norwegian value creation. Our social mission along the Norwegian coast contributes to a significant number of jobs, and to Norwegian business and tourism beyond our voyages, in addition to being an important part of the infrastructure along the coast,” Martini added.
After ‘Havila Capella’ was hit by sanctions, the company applied to The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a dispensation to operate the ship. This was granted on 26th April, which gave Havila Kystruten the right to operate the ship for six months.
At the same time, no clarification was given about dispensation concerning insurance of the ship. An application for exemption from insurance was rejected by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 9th May.
Havila said that it had sought to find solutions with the ministries to get ‘Havila Capella’ back into operation, but without success.
“Decisions involving the government, several ministries and top political leaders are quite complicated and take time. We have long thought we were approaching a rapid solution, but our case has not been politically finalised.
“In that matter, it is very gratifying that we have come to a solution based on our own initiatives, in good co-operation with the Norwegian authorities, including the Norwegian Maritime Directorate, lawyers and our insurance company, which gives us the opportunity to put ‘Havila Capella’ back into normal operation,” Martini concluded.
The ship’s original long-term financing with GTLK Asia was a financial lease type contract where the loan documentation gave Havila Kystruten all rights and the responsibility for the operation of the ship, as if the ship were wholly owned by the company.
Havila had a purchase option from the leasing company, which could have been triggered two years after delivery and a purchase obligation at the end of the contract with the Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications.
On 8th April, GTLK was added to the EU’s list of sanctioned companies, due to Russia’s war against Ukraine.