GTS Finnjet headed for breaker's yard
Former Finnish gas turbine ferry was to have been converted as cruise liner or floating casino
According to a report from the Florida-based brokerage and ship manangement company US Shipbrokers, the Dutch-owned Club Cruise Lines’ M/V Da Vinci, or the former Finnlines and Silja Line gas turbine ferry GTS Finnjet left the port of Genova in Italy on Tuesday, bound for the Red Sea and almost certainly a final mooring at the breaker’s yard.
The 33,000-GT vessel is to be formally handed over to its new owners in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia no later than the middle of the month.
US Shipbrokers had earlier written on its website that Finnjet had been sold for scrap, for a price of USD 9.85 million, or around EUR 6.8 million.
It does seem nevertheless that the new owners are willing to consider reselling the ship if only a suitable cash deal can be arranged.
In any event, the pointing of Finnjet’s bow towards ports east, in other words in the direction of the breaker’s yards of the Indian and Pakistani coastline, does not go against earlier suggestions that the ship has reached the end of its road.
Club Cruise had purchased Finnjet last December from the former parent company of Silja Line, Sea Containers, and in January the vessel was duly renamed M/V Da Vinci. The fact that the designation changed from "GTS" to "M/V" was already a signal that her days as a gas turbine vessel were probably at an end.
The ship had been laid up for quite some time in the Bahamas awaiting a buyer, after having done an 8-month stint as temporary accommodation for students and faculty staff at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, in the wake of the 2005 Katrina Hurricane.
That contract had itself come in the nick of time, as everything had pointed to the vessel's end being nigh - in September 2005 she was due to leave for Falmouth to be laid up pending a possible sale.
The new Dutch owners had brought the Da Vinci across the Atlantic to Italy, and the intention was to refit and convert her for use as a cruise liner, or possibly as a floating casino, which was one earlier rumoured scenario linked to prospective buyers.
However, Club Cruise ran into financial difficulties and has apparently abandoned whatever plans it had for the ship.
Helsingin Sanomat tried to reach the company’s management on Tuesday, but messages were not returned.
Finnjet is a piece of Finnish maritime history, and there has even been discussion of buying the ship back through a national fund-raising exercise.
At the time of its delivery from the Wärtsilä shipyard in Helsinki in 1977, Finnjet was the fastest, longest, and largest car ferry in the world, and the only one powered by gas turbines.
She is still the fastest conventional ferry today, with a recorded top speed of 33 knots.
During a somewhat chequered career - at least in financial terms: the ship was not kindly treated by rising fuel prices, and as early as 1981 she was converted to run on a combined diesel-electric and gas propulsion system to save costs - Finnjet served first for many years on the Helsinki-Travemünde route, where her high top speed allowed for a possible 22-hour crossing.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Finnjet houses Katrina evacuees (20.12.2005)
Silja Line´s Finnjet to provide emergency housing for Louisiana medical school (19.9.2005)
Tallink buys Silja Line for EUR 450 million and stock (12.6.2006)
FinnjetWeb, a unofficial site and forum maintained by devotees of the 30-year-old vessel
US Shipbrokers: Da Vinci
GTS Finnjet (Wikipedia)