JUNE 12, 2012 — Canada's Groupe Desgagnés has purchased the unfinished 95.1 m passenger-vehicle-container carrier Bella Desgagnés. Its builder, Croatian shipyard Brodogradiliste Kraljevica, started bankruptcy proceedings today
Although the vessel was more than 92 percent complete, work had not progressed in several months as a result of the major financial problems that the shipbuilder was experiencing.
Facing the shipyard's inability to finish the construction and its imminent bankruptcy, Desgagnés concluded an in extremis transaction with the Croatian government and the shipyard, enabling immediate and unrestricted ownership of the vessel in its current state. Desgagnés says this action prevents the vessel from being mired in administrative and legal red tape that would have resulted in the stalling of all work for a minimum of 18 to 24 months, aside from any subsequent deterioration that it would have suffered during that time.
"To avoid such issues, the vessel was immediately towed to international waters and then to the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy to undergo a complete assessment of its current condition, the work needed to complete it and the time frame for doing so. The shipyard that will actually perform the work is yet to be determined and will be chosen based on the completed assessment and the quotes and timetables submitted by various shipyards," says Desgagnés. "At present, the estimated time to complete construction, perform final sea trials and bring the vessel to Canada is about five months."
Mr. Louis-Marie Beaulieu, Chairman of the Board & Chief Executive Officer of Desgagnés said that the company will "continue to put forth every effort and take all necessary actions so that the vessel is completed in the shortest time possible, all the while giving priority to maintaining the highest possible standards of safety, quality of construction, capacity and comfort for the vessel's passengers" He added that "although the setback has created a very difficult situation, the fact that the Company has taken ownership of the vessel means that putting the Bella Desgagnés into service in the next few months is now a tangible reality."
Bella Desgagnés is to replace the Nordik Express on the Anticosti Island and Lower North Shore Maritime Supply Service operated by Desgagnés subsidiariy Relais Nordik Inc.