What Was World’s Largest Cruise Liner Faces Unglamorous End As Floating Immigrant Hulk City

First Choice (Tui) Island Escape
 

A luxury cruise liner which when built was declared the world’s largest has been selected to become a floating city to house Sweden’s massive surplus of migrants, in a deal that is likely to net the ship owners millions of crowns.

Sweden’s Migration Bureau, the fastest growing and one of the most influential government ‘Quangos’ in the country has after months of deliberation selected US Shipmanagers to fulfil their tender for floating migrant accommodation, but the deal is contingent on their finding a berth. The tendering process for the giant accommodation project has been under way since November last year when a spokesman said they were looking for a number of ships, offering at least 1,500 beds each.

Now the luxury cruise ship MV Ocean Gala has been selected, offering places for 1,790 migrants. Launched in 1982 as the MS Scandinavia, she was the largest cruiser of her kind in the world and has been operated by a number of luxury operators including Sundance, Royal Admiral, Royal Caribbean, and Thomson.

The ship was sold by Thomson cruises last year after a flurry of unfavourable publicity surrounding the ship. Britain’s Daily Mail reported nearly 100 former passengers were taking legal action against Thomson after alleged poor hygiene on-board led to a massive outbreak of “diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and dehydration”.

In her new role as a dormitory ship, she will earn her owners some 800,000 Swedish kronor (£66,000) every day in payments from the Migration Bureau and the initial contract will see it occupied for a year, reports Aftonbladet.

Owners US Shipmanagers boast on their website significant experience of providing emergency accommodation, having been founded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, leasing two 1,200 bed cruise ships in New Orleans to provide space for students after their halls of residence were destroyed. Pages on their ships boast of “on-board amenities” making time on-board “enjoyable” and feature images of well-equipped gyms and residents relaxing on the sea-facing balconies of the former cruise liners.

The last remaining obstacle to the project getting under way is US Shipmanagers finding a suitable berth. The first choice in the deep-water port of Harnosand is expected to be rejected by the town council over concerns about the impact of having 1,790 migrants in the harbour, reports local paper Allehanda. All of Sweden’s major cities – Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmo have harbours, and may be approached next.

While accommodating 1,790 migrants on a single craft may seem like a lot, the numbers involved are just a fraction of the estimated 160,000 asylum seekers who arrived in Sweden last year, with many more expected in 2016. As reported by Breitbart London when the cruise accommodation plan was announced last year, the Migration Bureau said they were looking for a number of ships, and were even exploring the possibility of putting migrants on decommissioned oil rig accommodation blocks

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Panama Canal Crack Fixed

The reinforced concrete sill can be seen below the gate. Photo credit: GUPC

The reinforced concrete sill can be seen below the gate. Photo credit: GUPC

A large crack that threatened the delivery of the Panama Canal expansion and pushed its planned opening back by several months has been fixed, the project’s contractor and Panama Canal Authority (APC) said Monday.

The ACP confirmed that Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC), the Spanish-led consortium responsible for the design and construction of the Third Set of Locks Project, has successfully completed testing of the reinforcements in sill #3 of the Cocolí locks.

The crack first appeared in August in the concrete sill between the lower and middle chamber of the Canal’s expanded Pacific Locks. GUPC later determined that water seepage was the result of insufficient steel reinforcement in the area that was subject to extreme condition testing.

In addition to reinforcing the sill where the crack appeared, GUPC also reinforced the first and second sill in the Cocoli Locks and the first three sills in the Atlantic-facing Agua Clara Locks as a preventative measure.

Photo dated August 25, 2015 showing water leaking through cracks in the concrete of the new Cocoli Locks complex, located on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal.
Photo dated August 25, 2015 showing water leaking through cracks in the concrete of the new Cocoli Locks complex, located on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal.

The announcement that the crack has been fixed follows a testing process which consisted of gradually raising the water behind the lock gate to the level where water seepage was first detected.

The testing process was closely monitored by GUPC technical personnel, the designers and the ACP, and later inspected by a team of independent experts, professors and structural engineers from the Technological University of Panama (UTP), all of whom expressed satisfaction with the final results, the ACP said.

GUPC will now proceed to test the electromechanical components of the project.

The ACP says that less than four percent remains to complete the overall Expansion.

The project was initially set to be finished at the end of 2014 to coincide with the 100 year anniversary of the opening of the original Panama Canal, but a dispute between GUPC and ACP over costs pushed the opening to April of this year. The ACP, acting on information from GUPC, initially denied that the crack would delay the opening even further, but as of now inauguration is set for end June.

Disney cruise ship comes to the rescue of Cuban migrants

Cruise ship Disney Wonder rescued 12 Cuban migrants in the Caribbean at the weekend.

The migrants, in an unseaworthy vessel described as “rustic”, were spotted at around 8pm on Saturday evening.

They were taken to the next port of call in the Cayman Islands the next day, according to the Miami coastguard.

News outlets in the US report an increasing number of Cubans are trying to reach the US after relations between the two countries were normalised.

They fear a current law that grants them US residency if they reach the country could be ended.

Cruise ship operators have agreed to notify the authorities if they spot migrants in dangerous vessels and to rescue them if necessary.