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SHIPPING NEWS: One Ocean Expeditions creeps towards bankruptcy

One Ocean Expeditions started using RCGS Resolute in November 2018. The company made the announcement in Sydney where the ships for the northern cruises were supposed to be refueled and provisioned.
One Ocean Expeditions started using RCGS Resolute in November 2018. The company made the announcement in Sydney where the ships for the northern cruises were supposed to be refueled and provisioned. - Contributed

One Ocean Expeditions management finally appears to have come to the conclusion that the company is insolvent. 

Since cancelling a cruise that was already underway in October, OOE has had its ship, the RCGS Resolute, arrested in Argentina for unpaid bills. Subsequent cruises have been cancelled, with only days' notice, with One Ocean providing a vague statement about an ongoing restructuring with an industry partner. 

On Jan. 6 passengers received a letter advising that the Jan. 17 cruise had been cancelled. The letter signed by Andrew Prossin also stated that OOE "has signed a partnership agreement with a qualified, reputable operator" and that further details would be provided next week. 

Those promised details never emerged, nor has One Ocean named the provider it signed an agreement with.  

However, the letter prompted a statement from Rune Thomas Ege, vice president of Global Communications for Hurtigruten, denying it had entered into a Partnership with One Ocean, and stating it has not purchased any assets or is in any way involved in the restructuring.

Norwegian cruise line, Hurtigruten operates premium exploration cruises to Norway, Greenland, Spitsbergen, Iceland, Europe, Africa, South America, Central America, Arctic Canada, and Antarctica. Hurtigruten on its own has been offering discounted rates to OOE clients, and even stepped in to fulfill a trip for some Vancouver school kids, whose OOE voyage had been cancelled. 

Hurtigruten was founded in 1893 when the company was formed to provide transportation links within Norway. That business evolved into the modern expedition cruise company it is today. Hurtigruten ships have called in Halifax in recent cruise seasons.

The latest statements from OOE admits management is entering a formal restructuring process under Canadian law, and advise passengers that they will become creditors, and may get some of their money back. This is assuming One Ocean has any assets of value remaining. 

To date, passengers booked on cancelled cruises were left to go to their travel insurance providers, many of whom don’t cover insolvency, and are rightly angry. Passengers and unpaid crew have formed a Facebook group in October, now with more than 1,000 members. 

The group has been trying to engage various regulators to take action against One Ocean.

One Ocean Expeditions' office is in Squamish B.C. but the company looks to be registered in Alberta and payments moved through an address in Richmond Hill, Ont.  

This past weekend, a group of passengers picketed the Richmond Hill offices of WM Trotter and Associates, believed to be One Oceans accountants.  

Deposits for trips and final payments were done via companies that list Trotter's accountants as directors, or list the same Richmond Hill address as its office. The One Ocean Foundation also lists three Trotter accountants as their sole directors and it shares an address with the accounting firm. 

It will be interesting to see what comes out in court documents.

In other harbour news: 

-- Former Secunda Offshore supply vessels and Halifax regulars - Burin Sea, Trinity Sea and Thebaud Sea - have all arrived in Turkey to be scrapped. Burin Sea and Trinity Sea were both rebuilt Russian vessels, while the Thebaud Sea was built in the Mississippi in 1999. Many 1990s offshore supply vessels have been sent to the scrap yards recently, as much more powerful vessels are available.       

-- HMCS Fredericton sailed for the Mediterranean on Monday, to take the place of HMCS Halifax with Nato's Standing Maritime Group. The six-month deployment is part of Operation Reassurance.  HMCS Ville de Quebec will be exercising with USS Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, based out of Norfolk, Va. 

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