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Sales and speculation: How things are shaking out for MV Werften

MV Werften's sites, as the one at Rostock seen here, could have a promising future in naval shipbuilding and maintenance
While the uncompleted Global Dream's fate remains unclear, future scenarios for various parts of insolvent MV Werften are beginning to take shape.

The shipyards cluster was owned by Genting Hong Kong until the company's collapse earlier this year. It had delivered expedition ship Crystal Endeavor and four sister vessels for Crystal River Cruises and was working on the 208,000gt Global Dream, a future China ship with capacity for up to 9,500 passengers, for Dream Cruises.

Meyer and Fassmer acquiring Neptun Ship Design 

On Wednesday, the family-controlled ventures Meyer Group and Fassmer announced they are jointly acquiring MV-controlled Neptun Ship Design with approximately 100 employees.

Two days before, SuperStar Libra, which has been serving as an accommodation ship for yard workers and contractors, left Wismar bound for the Mediterranean.

While MV Werften's Stralsund compound has been sold for redevelopment as a maritime industrial area, the Wismar and Rostock sites could have a future in naval shipbuilding and maintenance. If these plans materialise, most of the MV Werften staff could retain jobs locally, although ocean cruise shipbuilding in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is likely ending — with a possible exception the completion of Global Dream. 

Superstar Libra to Greece for refugee housing?

SuperStar Libra, built in 1988 as Seaward for Norwegian Cruise Line, had been docked at Wismar since August 2018. After conversion into an accommodation unit, the ship began housing yard staff, contractors and suppliers from the summer of 2019 on; it also housed some offices. For this purpose, SuperStar Libra was connected permanently to a shore power supply and the municipal sewage system.

But its use proved short-lived as accommodations were no longer needed in light of MV Werften's decline. Speculation about scrapping in Turkey accelerated recently, along with other rumours linking the vessel to future use in Africa. SuperStar Libra had lately been operated by Star Cruises Germany GmbH, a venture that filed for insolvency in early February in the wake of MV Werften's insolvency.

The ship was then sold but the new owner's identity has not been disclosed.

Last Monday five tugs moved SuperStar Libra away from its berth. According to local reports, it is going to be towed to Greece for refurbishment and future use as an accommodation vessel there, probably to house refugees. The vacant berth could be used for Global Dream's completion, provided MV Werften's administrator finds a buyer. There's speculation MSC might be interested. 

Naval future likely for Wismar and Rostock 

If Global Dream is ultimately completed at Wismar, it probably would go down as Mecklenburg-Vorpommern's last ocean cruise newbuild since the local shipyards' future appears to be naval shipbuilding. Decisions about the Wismar and Rostock sites haven't been made, but military use appears an ever more likely scenario.

Kiel-based ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems GmbH (TKMS) is reported interested in the Wismar site and staff. TKMS specialises in submarines and has a full orderbook for years out thanks to contracts with the navies of Germany, Norway and Israel. Demand for more newbuilt navy ships is likely in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war and increasing tensions between Russia and western Europe.

Delivery dates for the contracted submarines already reach far into the 2030s, and TKMS recently confirmed it was considering extending its capacities though no details were given. MV Werften's Wismar site could provide extra capacity and help TKMS gain a stronger foothold in the construction of surface vessels such as corvettes.

While TKMS appears to have an eye on Wismar, Germany's federal armed forces are interested in developing the Rostock site into a naval shipyard to maintain part of the country's navy surface ships. About 500 of Rostock's 800 workers could become civil servants as a result.

No decisions have been taken and neither TKMS nor the government have confirmed these reports.

City of Stralsund now owns Stralsund compound

Meanwhile, MV Werften's Stralsund compound was acquired by the city of Stralsund for €16.5m in March. The 34 hectares will be redeveloped into a maritime-focussed industrial area.

Another aspect of MV Werften's resolution is the acquisition of Neptun Ship Design by the Meyer/Fassmer consortium. The deal is pending approval by Germany's cartel office but is expected to get the green light.

Established shortly after German reunification in 1992, the ship design office — according to its own account, the country's largest — came under the control of MV Werften for an undisclosed price as a wholly-owned, independent subsidiary with some 120 staff in January 2019.

Neptun Ship Design to add jobs

Meyer Group and Fassmer said they plan to continue operating Neptun Ship Design in its current structure and additional jobs will be created to strengthen the engineering office. The firm has worked closely with both Meyer and Fassmer in the past.

With the purchase of Neptun Ship Design, Meyer Group and Fassmer are further expanding their cooperation. Both shipyards will develop and build the new German research vessel Meteor IV by 2026 and, according to Wednesday's announcement, Neptun Ship Design is going to play a significant role.

Interest in MV Werften greater than expected

Thus, the future for this MV Werften affiliate looks bright, while the possibilities for the sites and staff at Wismar and Rostock are not bad. German insiders agree that the interest in MV Werften's components has been much greater than expected at the insolvency filing in January.