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Sanctions row prevents first Havila Voyages ship from sailing

Havila Voyages has been forced to cancel the next sailing by debut ship Havila Capella in an onging dispute over ties to a Russian firm which was financing its vessels.

The Norwegian foreign affairs ministry rejected an application by the company for an exemption in order to insure Havila Capella.

The company had been given a special exemption from sanctions regulations to operate Havila Capella for six months as it tries to refinance its fleet against the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

But it has now emerged that the exemption did not entail a right to insure the ship.

And the ministry on Monday rejected the company’s application to take out insurance on the vessel, forcing the cancellation its next Norwegian coastal voyage.

Company chief executive Bent Martini said: “This is very disappointing and means that we still have an unresolved situation for Havila Capella.

“Based on this, we have no choice but to cancel Havila Capella’s next roundtrip along the Norwegian coast, which was scheduled to start in Bergen on May 15.

“We are very sorry for the situation that has arisen beyond our control, and for the consequences this means for the coastal population, our passengers, employees and suppliers.”

Passengers due to travel will be offered to rebook their tickets to a sailing with sister ship Havila Castor, or a full refund.

Newly delivered 640-passenger Havila Castor, delivered under alternative financing agreements, is due to sail as planned from Bergen later today (Tuesday).

Martini said on Monday: “Everyone on board the Havila Castor, our own employees and suppliers, as well as the crew from Havila Capella who have assisted, have worked night and day to prepare for tomorrow’s maiden voyage.

“I am impressed by the willingness to make an effort, and I am happy that Havila Castor is on schedule.”

The company pledged to continue working to find a solution to get Havila Capella back into service.

“As the sanctions are set up, any insurance payment will not benefit the ship’s registered owner,” Martini said. “In the event of a total breakdown, other parties will receive the insurance payment. We can do nothing but accept the authorities’ assessment, but disagree with the decision.

“We will not give up and will strive to find a possible way out of a very demanding situation. Until we have clarified the room for manoeuvre we are facing, it is difficult to provide any more information at this time.”

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