Per Saevik’s Havila Kystruten has succeeded in bringing back a new cruise ferry into service following a legal battle over Russian sanctions.

The Oslo-listed shipowner had gone to court in Norway to extricate itself from a nightmarish Catch-22 situation involving Russian lease financing for the 15,500-gt Havila Capella (built 2021).

The ship had been stuck in port since 12 April after domestic insurer Gard dropped its cover when the lease financier, Russia’s GTLK Asia, was sanctioned over the war in Ukraine.

But Havila Kystruten has now revealed the Norwegian Maritime Authority has issued certificates for the vessel after a decision at the Hordaland District Court.

This meant Norwegian insurer Skuld was able to provide valid protection and indemnity cover in the name of Havila Kystruten, which has been awarded control of the cruise ferry.

The ship is set to leave on a coastal cruise on 28 June.

The operator’s planned escape hatch in case of sanctions was a purchase option in the bareboat charter.

The problem was that any buyout payment to free the ship from sanctions would also be sanctioned.

The loan documentation is regulated by English law.

Havila Kystruten has also filed an application at the UK High Court to transfer the legal title and formal ownership of the ship, by legally redeeming its debt to GTLK.

Declarations are sought that there has been no default under the charter terms and that payment of the termination sum to a frozen bank account will discharge Havila Kystruten’s obligations.

The operator has a purchase option two years after delivery and a purchase obligation at the end of the contract period with Norway’s ministry of transport.

The company points out that the cruise ferry is booked in the accounts of Havila Kystruten as a Norwegian property and is taxed in Norway as a Norwegian ship.

The vessel sails under the Norwegian ordinary ship registry (NOR) and the seafarers on board have Norwegian conditions for wages and social security arrangements.