Construction Contract Terminated for Next Generation Ferry at FSG Yard
The construction contract for what had been promoted as a new generation ferry has been canceled by Brittany Ferries and its partner company Somanor. The companies cited a lack of confidence in the shipyard, Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG), that it could complete the ferry named Honfleur within a reasonable period of time.
Construction of Brittany Ferries’ LNG-powered cruise ferry had begun in March 2018, with the first cutting of steel followed by a keel laying in August and launch in December 2018. Brittany Ferries said that the ship would represent a new generation of cross-Channel ferry combining state-of-the-art design and sustainable thinking with a digitally-informed customer experience. At 42,000 gross tons and carrying 1,680 passengers, the Honfleur would have been the company’s largest ferry. The construction contract anticipated that the ferry would enter service by June 2019 sailing between Portsmouth, England and Caen, France.
The shipyard, which had been a leader in ferry construction, however, had a long history of financial troubles. Nearing bankruptcy, the yard was reorganized in twice in 2019 but failed to regain its financial strength. The yard reported a loss of $120 million in 2019 driven by delays and cost overruns in its construction projects.
Siem Europe which had acquired the shipyard in 2014, and was its largest customer, sold its position to Tennor Holding, but with problems persisting in the business, the Australian shipping company TT-Line canceled two shipbuilding contracts early in 2020. Finally, saying that it was following the German Government’s recommendation to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in March all operations and production was temporarily suspended at FSG.
The shipyard sought court protection in April 2020 with a self-administered insolvency process, and a month later was placed under the protection of the commercial court in Germany.
The companies cited unsuccessful discussions with the current management of FSG and its creditors in announcing the cancelation of the construction order. It is unclear how much of the outfitting had been completed after the launch of the ferry nearly 18 months ago.