Scandlines is still looking for ferries to service the Gedser-Rostock crossing, and after shipyard STX Finland seems unable to locate the necessary construction financing for the newbuildings the shipping company is now looking in new directions in search of replacements.
One possibility could be to find a new yard to deliver the ferries - of the double-ender type, like the ones servicing Rodby-Puttgarden - but Scandlines is looking at a different solution, namely the two partially built ferries that the carrier previously declined to receive from bankrupt German shipyard P+S Werften, as the ferries failed to comply with specifications.
"I can confirm that Scandlines has bid on the two ferries that were under construction at P+S Werften, and we're now waiting for a response from the estate," says Anette Ustrup Svendsen, Communications Manager at Scandlines.
She declines to comment further on the size of the offer made to the estate just prior to the new year, but German media report that the bid is somewhere in the vicinity of 25 million euros per vessel, significantly less than the original newbuilding price of 100 million euros, though one should bear in mind that the ships are not completed and still lack the entire outfitting. This expense will have to be paid by Scandlines or other potential buyers.
Cannot wait for a new yard
The two German-built ferries - which, among other things, weighed 700 tons more than originally planned, and wound up running so deep that they would not be able to enter the Port of Gedser - have now become interesting again because Scandlines cannot keep postponing the deployment of new ferries on the Baltic Sea route.
"So far the ferry construction in Finland has resulted in a six month delay for us, and we can't just sit here and do nothing, so now we're looking at alternatives," says Anette Ustrup Svendsen, adding:
"This could easily take two or three years if we have to start over with a new yard, while we'll hopefully be able to get the Stralslund ferries ready to sail in a year or two, so that they can be deployed on Gedser-Rostock."
She explains that on the original ferries from P+S Werften, had they been completed, the carrier would have been forced to remove 25 percent of the cargo in order to keep them from running aground in the Port of Gedser. In the new setup, where the two ships have yet to be outfitted, it is still possible to reduce the weight, thus eliminating this problem.
Anette Ustrup Svendsen does not wish to comment on the price for completing the ferries, but she does indicate that the final price will end up close to the price featured in the original contract, which was 100 million euros. She hopes that this solution will enable Scandlines to deploy one of the two ferries on the crossing as early as this year.
No easy ferry job
Finding new ferries for the Gedser-Rostock crossing has not been an easy job for Scandlines.
Back in November 2012 the carrier was forced to cancel the delivery of two planned newbuildings from Stralsund shipyard P+S Werften, as the German yard went into receivership and because the ships did not comply with the specifics stated in the contract.
This summer the shipping company signed a declaration of intent with shipyard STX Finland, which was set to deliver the two completed ferries by 2015. But Scandlines was once again hit by bad luck as the Finnish indebted yard, during the fall of 2013, was forced to admit that it was unable to secure construction financing for the project.