Baltic Kristina may weigh anchor forever

  • 2006-07-12
  • From wire reports
RIGA - The Baltic Kristina ferry, which used to ply between Riga and Stockholm but is now stranded at Riga Port for several months due to insolvency, might never sail again, Riga Port CEO Leonids Loginovs has said.

Respublika magazine reported that there were potential buyers for the ferry, but unfortunately it could not be sold. "One wants it for free, the other for a song. The situation has come so far that the vessel is impossible to sell at whatever price," said Loginovs.

He added that the ship would need 1 million euros in repairs and upkeep, and no investor was likely to get a return on this investment.
"The ferry should be turned into a floating hotel or donated to the Liepaja Maritime College or the Latvian Maritime Academy as a teaching aid. Maybe someone could buy the boat to use as a home?" he suggested.

The Riga Port CEO added that there was no possibility of resurrecting the ferry. "Thirty-three years for a vessel 's you can just say good-bye. We incur huge maintenance costs monthly," said Loginovs.
When asked whether it was possible that the Baltic Kristina may never run again, the port manager said: "I think this is what will happen."

Speaking on Riga Port's failures in developing a ferry business, Loginovs said, "Regretfully, politics messed everything up," he said.

The Riga port was one of Rigas Juras Linija (RJL) shareholders along with Riga City Council and Astramar. RJL was founded on Jan. 25, 2002, to ensure regular ferry service between Riga and Stockholm. However, the company's virtual monopoly came crashing down after former Transport Minister Ainars Slesers deregulated the industry and invited Estonia's Tallink to operate some routes from Riga Passenger Part.

Faced with such daunting competition, RJL, which was saddled with debt and faced with a decision to increase capital, opted to liquidate the company.
The Baltic Kristina ferry, built in 1973, stopped plying between Riga and Stockholm on Oct. 15, 2005. The Riga Port administration bought the ferry for 2.5 million lats (3.6 million euros) at the auction on Dec. 21, 2005, held to recover the debt of the insolvent ferry operator RJL to Parex Bank, which had financed the purchase of the ferry.

The court upheld the auction results in April this year, allowing the port to consider the ferry's further fate. It was earlier reported that Norwegian, Korean and Italian shipping companies had showed serious interest in chartering or buying the Baltic Kristina.