Kjell Inge Rokke-controlled Rev Ocean foresees a delay of up to five years in a plan to build a luxury research vessel and Rokke's organisation is blaming the shipbuilder.

But the Norwegian shipowner and industrialist is not pulling the plug on the high-profile project.

The company's namesake vessel, the 16,854-gt Rev Ocean is under construction at an originally estimated cost of between $350m and $500m. It is intended as a platform for scientific research and high-end leisure.

The ship designed by Monaco-based Norwegian superyacht designer Espen Oino was to have been delivered in May by Fincantieri Group subsidiary Vard Group in Norway

But last September, Norwegian shipbuilding magazine Skipsrevyen revealed the whole superstructure would have to be removed and rebuilt in aluminium because the ship was too heavy.

On 17 June, Rev Ocean disclosed that the design and technical problems with the project were more severe than previously known, and delivery could have to wait until 2026.

Specifications issue

Blaming the yard for failing to meet specifications, Rev Ocean claimed it has the right to cancel, but has not exercised it.

"We have been hoping the situation would improve, but compounding issues are causing further setbacks. We have not received a timeline for when a compliant ship will be delivered," the company announced.

Rev Ocean chief executive Nina Jensen provided more detail to Norwegian daily newspaper DN.

"Our best estimate at the present point in time is that this will entail a delay of three to five years before the ship is operational," she said.

Jensen claimed both parties agreed that the contract can now be cancelled.

"This right is not being invoked because [Rokke's] top priority is securing delivery of a compatible research and expedition vessel," she told the newspaper.

The Rev Ocean at the Fincantieri Group's Vard Brattvag shipyard in Norway. Photo: Zxsp3ctrom/Wikimedia

Vard Group officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TradeWinds.

The project is a high-profile one in Norway, in which shipowner and industrialist Rokke has invested substantial prestige.

The newbuilding contract was announced in 2017 along with the hiring of an international staff of experts headed by marine biologist and former environmental NGO leader Jensen, who was recruited from the Norwegian national branch of WWF.

"As a result of the extended delay of the ship, all vessel-related activities will temporarily be put on hold," Rev Ocean said in its announcement. "Unfortunately, this will have consequences for our entire team, but the intention is to reconstitute when the vessel is closer to completion."

Rokke's stated ambition is a philanthropic one, as part of his membership in the Bill Gates and Warren Buffett-founded league of billionaire philanthropists called The Giving Pledge, whose members commit to donating half their wealth to noble causes.

But the project has a commercial angle, allowing high-end customers to charter the vessel as a way of supporting the environmental research that is its main purpose.

Rokke's shipowning interests include financial shipowner Ocean Yield, US Jones Act tanker owner American Shipping Co, and DDW Offshore.