Lawyers for Fred Olsen Cruise Lines are going after the buyers of a former cruise ship to block its imminent beaching in India.
The 28,600-gt former Black Watch (renamed Odin, built 1972) is at anchor off Gujarat on the Indian north-western coast, where it arrived on 5 May, according to AIS vessel position data.
The UK-based, Norwegian-controlled cruise ship owner wants to know if its next stop is meant to be the beach.
“We understand that there may be an attempt to recycle the vessel in India. We have taken steps to try to prevent this,” a Fred Olsen Cruise spokesman told TradeWinds.
Such a move would violate a sales contract clause calling for green scrapping of the vessel once its end-of-life job as an accommodation vessel is over. But Fred Olsen Cruise is uncertain about the ship’s final destiny.
“Following the sale of Black Watch to Turkish buyers in 2020, our research shows that the vessel is currently offshore India,” the company official wrote.
“We have taken steps behind the scenes to enforce the terms of the sale in 2020 to Turkish buyers, which requires the vessel to be recycled at the end of her trading life in accordance with the Hong Kong Convention at a fully certified Turkish ship recycling facility able to perform proper green ship recycling.”
The IHS Markit vessel database, sourced largely from regulatory records, lists the former Black Watch as having changed hands only in April this year.
It is now recorded as managed by Mumbai-based BBN Shipmanagement, a cash buyer-linked company, and as owned by a Marshall Islands special purpose vehicle called Olivia Navigation, with contact in care of Navi Mumbai-based Machtrans Ship Management.
Fred Olsen Cruise has never identified its counterparty in the sale, but suggested the buyer has not been transparent about the further disposition of the vessel.
“The steps we have taken include obtaining an interim injunction against the Turkish buyers,” the Fred Olsen Cruise official wrote.
“While we do not have a full picture of what has happened to the vessel since the sale, we understand that the vessel has since changed hands. Unfortunately, we have not received a full picture from the Turkish buyers.”
Fred Olsen Cruise did not immediately clarify whether such an injunction was obtained in the courts of India, Turkey or another jurisdiction, and against which party. An unofficial search service covering Indian court records did not show records of such an injunction.
BBN Shipmanagement and Machtrans Ship Management did not immediately reply to requests for information.
A sistership of the Black Watch, the 28,600-gt Boudicca (built 1972, now scrapped) also went to Turkish buyers in a parallel deal, also for further trading as an accommodation vessel.
Market sources have suggested that both ships simply went straight to lay-up, and questions have persisted since the sales about the identity of the buyers, whether the intended accommodation work ever took place, and whether the deals were scrap deals in disguise.
The Boudicca met its end in May 2021 at the hands of Turkey’s Ersay Ship Recycling in Aliaga.
Fred Olsen group holding company Bonheur is the largest shareholder in NHST Media Group, which owns TradeWinds.