Helsinki Shipyard Starts Tender to Free Cruise Ship From Sanctions

expedition cruise ship offered for sale
SH Minerva is the first of the three expedition cruise ships buitl by Helsinki Shipyards for Swan Hellenic (Swan Hellenic)

Published Nov 29, 2022 2:42 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Helsinki Shipyard launched a tender for the sale of the incomplete third expedition cruise ship the yard is building for Swan Hellenic. Referred to simply as cruise ship hull no. 518, the vessel is being sold “As Is” and “Where Is” with no mention of completion of the vessel or a delivery date.

It is the second time this year that the Helsinki Shipyard has launched a tender to sell the cruise ships being built for Swan Hellenic. In June, the companies explained that the three cruise ships were financed by the new cruise line working with the Russian leasing company GTLK. The contracts called for the vessels to operate under long-term charters to Swan Hellenic after delivery to GTLK.

The sanctions imposed against Russian financial institutions in April 2022 after the invasion of Ukraine however prevented GTLK from making payments on the cruise ships. The leasing company GTLK Europe was forced to default on the second cruise ship under construction and in June Helsinki Shipyard used the tender process as a means to sell the ship free of any encumberments from the lease company. Swan Hellenic was the successful bidder and placed the vessel, named SH Vega, into service. At the same time, the company was working to purchase its first cruise ship, SH Minerva, which was also caught in the sanctions.

“Helsinki Shipyard Oy seeks to obtain the best fair market value for the vessel and reserves the right to reject any and all bids,” they write in the new tender which began on November 25. As part of the process, the company says it, “on request can present a certificate of ownership of the vessel issued by the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom,” as evidence of clear title. Bids are due on December 9 with the winner due to be announced on December 12.

Swan Hellenic ordered the third cruise ship in October 2020 as a larger version of the first two vessels also built by the Helsinki Shipyard. Named SH Diana she is scheduled for delivery in early 2023 with Swan Hellenic currently showing her first voyage at the end of March from Piraeus, Greece. She is scheduled to operate in the Mediterranean before repositioning to Northern Europe and the Arctic in 2023. Swan Hellenic is currently operating its first two expedition cruise ships in Antarctica. 

At a length of 410 feet, she is longer than the first two cruise ships which are 337 feet in length. The third ship will accommodate 192 guests compared to the others which accommodate 152 passengers. The design of the vessel is largely similar except she is being built with a PC6 ice-strengthened hull compared to the PC5 rating for the first two vessels. She is to be equipped with a 4,6-megawatt diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system with selective catalytic reduction, 3-megawatt max. battery package and extra-large stabilizers to provide for a smoother ride while sailing to inaccessible places and remote destinations. The SH Diana will be approximately 12,100 gross tons compared to 10,600 gross tons for the first two vessels.

Due to the economic sanctions imposed on Russian companies, the shipyard in October was also denied an export license by the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affair for an LNG-powered icebreaker order by Russian metals and mining giant Norilsk Nickel (Nornickel). The shipyard was forced to suspend the construction plan because without the export license it would be unable to deliver the vessel to the Russian company. The Norilsk Nickel icebreaker, which would have been the largest and most powerful diesel-electric icebreaker ever built in Finland, was a key part of the shipyard’s future workflow. The yard had been doing pre-construction work and placing orders but delayed the start of construction to 2023. Plans had called for the icebreaker to be delivered before the 2025 winter season.