- Mont St Michel
- Posts: 212
- Joined: 26 Feb 2023 04:30
The flight of the ex-Odeep One
The ex-Odeep One was beached on October 13, 2021 in Alang (India) after her escape from Sète (France) on July 23. 82 days at sea with a crew of mercenaries. The Panamanian Odeep One had become the Saint Kitts and Nevis-flagged Deep One and at the end of the journey the Gabonese Lotus. She had carried out her voyage at reduced speed, with phases of drift, probably due to engine failures.
The Lotus was beached at Sachdeva Steel Products yard. Sachdeva has a statement of compliance with the Hong Kong Convention issued by Nippon Kaiji Kyokai. It also holds a "Certificate of Compliance with the requirements set out in Article 13 of the European Union Regulation" to be met by shipbreaking yards. The certificate was issued by the Dutch branch of Nippon Kaiji Kyokai. It should be noted that to date, no Indian shipbreaking yard has been included in the list of facilities approved by the European Union. Moreover, Sachdeva is not among the 54 shipyards established in a third country that have applied for inclusion (see the list of ship recycling facilities that have applied for inclusion published on the European Commission's website).
The ex-Odeep One (IMO 8311883) was built in 1986 in Wismar, then German Democratic Republic, by Mathias Thesen Werft yard as the train-ferry Mukran for the state-owned VEB Deutfracht Seereederei.
She was the first in a series of five vessels built between 1986 and 1989, the Klaipeda (IMO 8311895), Vilnius (IMO 8311900), Greifswald (IMO 8311912) and Kaunas (IMO 8311924), which are still trading today in the Black Sea except for the Klaipeda, operated in the Red Sea as Aziz Express. Mukran's homeport was Rostock. She was flying the East German flag. After the German reunification, the Mukran went from public to private. In 1995, she was re-fitted to accommodate 150 passengers, 200 vehicles and 49 railcars and was renamed Petersburg. She was deflagged to Liberia in 1997.
In 2011, she was acquired by the Black Sea Ferry Investments based in Moscow, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Russian Railways. She was one more time refitted, in the shipyards of St. Petersburg, kept her name and was reflagged to Russia. In June 2014, she headed for the Black Sea where she was assigned to transport supply for the Crimean peninsula which had just been annexed. Until February 2015, she served the Novorossiysk-Sevastopol route. In March 2015, she returned to the Baltic Sea to connect the enclave of Kaliningrad to Ust Luga (St. Petersburg oblast).
In April 2018, she entered Tallinn ship repair yard in Estonia. This was the beginning of the road to hell. The Russian shipowner was in financial troubles. In addition, its diplomatic situation was complicated by accusations of illegal trafficking to Crimea at the time of the annexation. Unpaid bills on account of the Petersburg amounted to 350,000 US$ to which should be added 30,000 US$ of wage arrears for the crew.
In June 2018, the vessel was seized by an Estonian Court at the request of creditors. She was acquired in February 2019 by Ocean Fresh Water (OFW), a company registered in the Paris area (France). OFW is a subsidiary of OFW holding Ltd registered in Malta. Ocean Fresh Water's project was to convert the old ro-ro ship into a factory ship equipped to pump seawater to a depth of 300 m and then treat, filter and bottle it on board.
The conversion work was carried out at the Polish yard Remontowa in Gdansk. Upon leaving the yard in October 2019, the ex-Russian Petersburg, which had become the Panamanian Odeep One, was not deemed seaworthy: she was detained for 16 days by the Polish Nowy Port with 20 deficiencies before she was able to reach Sète (France) in the Mediterranean in November 2019. She was still registered with the IMO as a roll-on roll-off ferry. She was to carry out a series of technical tests from Sète before heading for Asia, off the Philippines. It is an understatement to say that the Odeep One has been warmly welcome in the Southern France port, despite she was flying a flag of convenience in order, according to the director of OFW, to "fluidify and accelerate the registration process" and bypass the hassles of the French administration. The press was dithyrambic about this "water fishing vessel which transforms sea water into drink". The desalination of sea water and the discharge of brine into the marine environment were presented as a humanitarian work that could help to alleviate the worldwide lack of drinking water. According to OFW's director, "the demand is so great" that he was already considering an Odeep Two vessel.
The "visionary" project had to face technical and financial difficulties and Covid. The Odeep One remained stuck in Sète. OFW director, creative or opportunistic depending on one's point of view, obtained in April 2020 the authorization to produce and bottle hydroalcoholic gel. Setting up a production and bottling plant for such flammable substances in a ship without firewalls and with 43 people on board is particularly audacious or imprudent. In any case, commercialization ran into various problems and OFW's financial situation continued to deteriorate. In November, OFW went into receivership and the contracts of all 43 employees were terminated, a number of them were of African origin.
After the bankruptcy, the Odeep One became property of the Dutch bank that had financed the project. In April 2021, the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping withdrew her class certificate. In mid-July, theownership of the vessel was transferred to a certain Singapore-registered HSM Safe Ships Pte Ltd presenting itself as a marine survey and brokerage company. The story was accelerating. The Odeep One had been idle in Sète for over a year. On Friday 23 July, a week after Singapore took control, she eluded a port state control in the frame of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding and escaped without any classification society. Sète was on summer vacation. The Asian scrapping industry was in full swing.
A crew whose mechanical virtuosity we have to recognize had embarked. Even if only one of her four engines was operational, the Odeep One bravely took a route toward the East, leaving Sète with unpaid port fees and an oil spill that led to the closure of two beaches. The French Navy either let her go or did not have time to intervene before the Odeep One reached international waters. It is a first in France and perhaps in the European Union to see a ship that has just polluted the basins and the port channel leave absolved.
The Odeep One, renamed Deep One flying the funeral flag of St. Kitts and Nevis, took bunkers at the limit of Maltese territorial waters. There again, no reaction from the Maltese authorities with regard a ship with no future other than scrapping. The Deep One headed for Port Said, the entrance to the Suez Canal. Her official destination was Colombo, Sri Lanka. She paid the canal tolls estimated at 200- 300,000 US$, took on bunkers in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) and arrived off the coast of Sri Lanka on August 27. She remained anchored off Galle on the south coast for a dozen days outside territorial waters. On September 8, she weighed anchor, announced to be heading for Chattogram and then Singapore, and started to ramble, alternating courses and drifts in all directions. The procrastination lasted until October 1, a sign that the last owner of the ex-Odeep One had speculated as much as possible and waited for the most lucrative offer from the shipyards of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.
On October 1, the Deep One set sail for Mumbai, her new official destination. She became the Lotus flying the Gabonese flag. On October 7, she passed Mumbai, finally heading for Bhavnagar, the headquarters of the Gujarat Maritime Board in charge of issuing shipbreaking clearance. Waiting time was short. On October 13, the Lotus was beached in Alang scrapyards. At 578 US$ per ton, her sale brought in 9 million US$ to the owner and middlemen.
- Mont St Michel
- Posts: 212
- Joined: 26 Feb 2023 04:30