The Return of the KUNG?

The Return of the KUNG?

by Kalle Id

Update by Kalle Id, February 21, 2014: As reported yesterday by Sjöfartstidningen, the negotiations for finding a permanent quay for the KUNGSHOLM in Gothenburg have failed. Johnny Sid’s group are now in negotiations to place the ship instead in Liverpool, England as a part of the new Wirral Waters development scheme.

Swedish American Line postcard of the "new" KUNGSHOLM.
Swedish American Line postcard of the “new” KUNGSHOLM.

The last liner of the renowned Swedish American Line (SAL), the 1966-built (fourth) KUNGSHOLM, has spent the last three years lingering in Duqm, Oman as the hotel ship VERONICA. Now things are about to change: MS Kungsholm AB, an investor group led by the Finnish entepeneur Johnny Sid, signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on Tuesday, 4th February to purchase the ship from her current owners, Daewoo Group of South Korea. According to mr Sid, who was interviewed on the subject by the Swedish maritime newspaper Sjöfartstidningen, the funds for purchasing the ex-KUNGSHOLM – 15,5 million USD – are already in place.

MS VERONICA at Duqm, Oman. Photo courtesy Veronica Duqm
MS VERONICA at Duqm, Oman. Photo courtesy Veronica Duqm

The intention of Johnny Sid and his partners is to bring the ship back to her original home Sweden as a hotel ship – a use for which the ship is particularly well suited, as she was thoroughly rebuilt for modern hotel standards in 2010. However, the group currently lacks a quay for the ship to be permanently moored at. The Memorandum of Agreement expires on 6th March and before that date, Sid’s group are hoping to secure a permanent mooring site for the ship, preferably either in Gothenburg or, failing that, in Stockholm. Should a suitable quay not be found, the MoA will (probably) be allowed to lapse.

If all goes to plan and Sid’s ground are able so secure a permanent quay for the ship – ideally the Amerikakajen (”America Quay”) in Gothenburg, from which SAL ships departed on their transatlantic crossings – the ship will be restored externally to her original appearance, with twin funnels painted in SAL’s yellow and blue colours. The interiors, on the other hand, will at least initially be kept as they are. Finances permitting, the plan is to gradually convert the interiors back to original appearance once the ship is back in Sweden and open to the public.

Should Mr Sid and his associates’ plan come to fruition, the ship will probably first sail to somewhere in the Mediterranean for restoration of her exterior, and return to Sweden around new year 2015, coinciding with the centenary of the foundation of Swedish American Line.

Johnny Sid is the businessman who previously successfully brought the pocket liner BORE to Turku, Finland as a hotel and museum ship.

MONA LISA (ex KUNGSHOLM) Photo © Kalle Id July 7, 2009 Helsinki.
MONA LISA (ex KUNGSHOLM) Photo © Kalle Id July 7, 2009 Helsinki.

The KUNGSHOLM’s to-be owners have a website you can visit at mskungsholm.com. For the time being, the site has material only in Swedish.

Thanks to Peter Knego for supplying images

Kalle Id

Kalle Id

Kalle Id, MaritimeMatters' Helsinki correspondent, is a Finnish maritime historian, photographer and journalist, with a Master's Degree in history from the University of Helsinki. His early-age exposure to ferry travel led to a lifetime fascination with passenger ships, both the cruise ferries of his home waters and the cruise ships and ferries of further afield. Kalle maintains his own ship photography blog at kships.blogspot.com. Contrary to the popular belief, he writes under his real name.
Kalle Id
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