3 Estonian small island ferries affected by sanctions due to Russian classification

  • 2022-03-15
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – A part of the fleet of the Estonian state is classified at a Russian ship register for cost-saving purposes, and the three Russia-classified vessels now face sanctions as the Russian classification agency is one of the organizations sanctioned by the European Union, Postimees reported.

The sanctions, which entered into force on March 10, are aimed at restricting the movement  in European waters and ports of ships and goods of Russian-owned or sanctioned persons and organizations.

The ferries Kihnu Virve, Ormso and Soela, which belong to the Estonian state but have been registered in the Russian register, sail under the Estonian flag, Postimees said. The vessels were built according to the classification of the Russian register and oversight over them is exercised by the same Russian register, RS CLass.

The vessels are operated by private company Kihnu Veeteed, which was granted the use of the vessels by the Estonian state under a public passenger service contract.

The classification service is necessary to monitor the seaworthiness of the ship in cases where  the state does not do it itself. The classification society issues certificates of seaworthiness without which ships are not allowed to operate.

If the seaworthiness certification of the Estonian vessels is now no longer valid, EU ports should refuse to serve these ships and questions may also arise about the insurance of these ships and other legal procedures.

Relations with the RS Class register and classification society of Russia have been severed also by other international maritime organizations, registers and classification societies.

The use of ships classified at RS Class now depends on whether or not the country in whose waterways and ports the ships sail recognizes the Russian register. So it all depends on what position will be taken by the Estonian state, Postimees said. Probably the only option would be to give agencies or companies a deadline to bring their ships under the supervision of a classification society recognized by countries around the world.

Neither the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications nor the Transport Administration would disclose how much the Estonian state saved by classifying the ships at the Russian register, nor have officials answered the question how the situation that has arisen will be resolved.