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.
Ocean Gala ex Island Escape heading into Brest France pic.twitter.com/wBvFPMPpVx
— US Shipbrokers (@USShipbrokers) December 8, 2015
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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