Wednesday, May 31, 2000

Start-up cruise line signs for two ships from Harland & Wolff
Northern Ireland's Harland and Wolff has been awarded a letter of intent for the design and construction of two 28,000 gt, 380 passenger luxury cruise vessels, valued in excess of $350 million, by Luxus Holdings Ltd. The deal is subject to contract finalization.

Main Particulars of the Luxus Holdings cruise liners
Length Overall 200.00 m
Length between Perpendiculars 179.43 m
Beam 27.70 m
Draught 6.20 m
Speed (service) 19 kts
Speed (max) 25.6 kts
Gross tonnage 28,280 tonnes
Passengers 380

Luxus Holdings is the creation of its CEO, Les Royle ,and a group called Rowayton Capital Partners, which is described as "made up of veteran executives from the cruise, hotel and financial industries." Royle himself has over 25 years of management and onboard experience with Cunard Line, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Lines and others. He has assembled a team of industry executives who are said to be poised to move to Luxus as the ship design and building project progresses.

James G Davis, CBE, former director of P&O Lines and Kleinwort Benson Limited, and currently Chairman of the International Maritime Industries Forum, is chairman of Luxus Holdings board of directors.

Luxus Holdings financial backers include Richard L. Huber, most recently Chairman and CEO of AETNA Inc., the Hartford Connecticut-based insurance and financial services company, and previously an executive with Continental Bank, Citibank and Bank of Boston; Frank N. Aldrich, international banker and management veteran of Bank of Boston, the McLaughlin Bank N.V. and Amicorp N. V.; and a number of New York-based private investors. Luxus is currently completing discussions with a major institutional investment firm and expects to announce additional details about its investor group within the next several days.

Welcoming the announcement, Harland and Wolff Chief Executive, Brynjulv Mugaas, said: "We are delighted to have been awarded this Letter of Intent which gives us the opportunity, together with Luxus, to develop this exciting and innovative project in parallel with the recently announced Ropax contract."

"Harland and Wolff will focus on the core areas of overall vessel design and construction of the ships," said Mugaas, "including marine systems, propulsion and machinery and utilize our strong project management skills and systems to manage and co-ordinate the numerous contractors and interfaces which will produce specialized, fit for purpose vessels. By concentrating on our key competencies, we will have the opportunity to establish a presence in the design and construction of innovative cruise ships."

On behalf of Luxus Holdings Ltd, Royle claimed the ships will be "the most luxurious vessels afloat," designed to re-create and update the spirit and service standards of the great British lines, many of whose ships were built in Belfast by Harland and Wolff.

He said that the ships have been designed by London marine architect and yacht designer Evan K Marshall, of London, "to capture the ambience and maintain the personal service standards of a large luxury yacht. "

"At the same time," continued Royle, "at over 200 meters in length and with 190 suites accommodating 380 passengers, they will afford larger standard cabins and greater space per passenger than any other ship afloat. In addition, Luxus will offer more facilities and passenger choice and be the only operator to offer six star facilities to every passenger."

"There is no doubt that the cruise market will continue to grow, especially at the high end. Our ships will offer a combination of exclusivity and luxury the like of which is not presently available as a cruise alternative."

Luxus expects its fleet, which initially will have four ships ­ the two under order and two more to follow shortly thereafter ­ to be British flagged. The company's registered office will be in London, with its operating headquarters to be in the Miami / Fort Lauderdale area.


Friede Goldman settles Petrodrill dispute
Friede Goldman Halter, Inc. says that its Friede Goldman Offshore Texas subsidiary has reached an agreement with Petrodrill IV Ltd. and Petrodrill V Ltd. ("Petrodrill'') regarding contract disputes over construction of two Amethyst-class deepwater semisubmsersible drilling rigs. The agreements have been approved by the boards of directors of both Friede Goldman Halter and Petrodrill--and by the U.S. Maritime Administration, which is providing loan guarantees for the project.

Under the agreements, new delivery dates for the Amethyst 4 and Amethyst 5 are September 15, 2001 and December 15, 2001, respectively.

Both parties have agreed to increase the float-out milestone payment by $3 million per rig and to a final $6.4 million payment per rig at delivery, resulting in a new contract value of $186.8 million based upon the new delivery schedules. The parties have also agreed to increased late delivery penalties; However, Friede Goldman believes that during the past four months it has completed necessary engineering to allow for a smooth completion of the construction plan. In addition, both parties have agreed to terminate all pending litigation related to the project.

"This settlement is a major milestone in the Amethyst project,'' said John Alford, president and chief operating officer of Friede Goldman Halter. "We can now focus on the process of completing and delivering these rigs with the knowledge that FGOT and Petrodrill are aligned in our objectives.''

Friede Goldman Offshore has assigned a veteran project engineer to oversee the timely completion of these rigs. Construction of Amethyst 5 will be transferred from Pascagoula, Miss., to the company's Orange, Texas, facility.

"This two-pronged construction plan will enable us to leverage the experience and immediate availability of our Texas workforce while ensuring that we have capacity in each of our facilities to accommodate upgrade and repair projects for long-term customers,'' Alford concluded.

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