Viking Line denies responsibility for millions in damages caused by Gabriella collision

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Viking Line denies responsibility for millions in damages caused by Gabriella collision
Image of the Viking Gabriella in Helsinki harbour, 2016. Credit: Twitter@DiscoverFinland

Cruise giant Viking Line has denied all responsibility for the millions of euros worth of damage caused by the collision involving its vessel Gabriella last January.

 

The city of Helsinki and Allas Sea Pool have both submitted compensation claims totalling more than €3.5 million to the shipping company Viking Line for the consequences of the Viking Gabriella accident last January.

A compensation claim for €750,000 has been made by the city of Helsinki, relating to repairs carried out to the wharf structure under Altai.

Allas Sea Pool has presented a compensation claim of €2.7 million for loss of income and part of the expenses that arose when Altaa had to build temporary sauna structures.

Following the collision, the hot water pools were closed for several months, and the temporary sauna building was only put in place at the end of the summer.

For the cracked sauna, Allas has already received compensation from its own insurance company, which for its part negotiated compensation with Viking Line.

According to Timo Laiho, head of the plot unit, the city of Helsinki has not yet received an answer to its claim for compensation from the shipping company. The repair work is scheduled to be done in the coming months.

The Sea Pool, on the other hand, has already received a negative response. According to Raoul Grünstein, the chairman of the board, Viking has announced that it has no compensation obligation.

“They gave the same answer last February. We sent them an exact compensation claim in euros three weeks ago, and the answer was almost the same”, he confirmed.

However, Viking Line communicated that they want to resolve the issue with Allas Sea Pool. The third party that suffered damage is the Port of Helsinki, whose owned quay area next to Altaa was also damaged.

Viking Line’s CEO Jan Hanses justified the shipping company’s position by saying that according to maritime law, liability for damages requires at least the production of damage. “According to us, this has not yet been resolved”.

He pointed out that the other party’s compensation claims in euros are also excessive.

“We have received a letter from the lawyers of the opposing parties, in which detailed questions are presented regarding the settlement of this matter. We are currently working on the letter. At this stage, when liability for damages is still unclear, we have denied liability for damages”, he explained.

Hanses pointed out that if Viking Line were nevertheless found to be liable for damages in an accident, the shipping company would dispute the scope and financial amount of damages presented by the other parties.

The Viking Gabriella was leaving Katajanokka for Stockholm on January 12, when it lost its manoeuvrability. The ship drifted towards Katajanokka’s wharf structures and Allas Sea Pool.

The Accident Investigation Centre Otkes stated that the cause of the accident cannot be ruled out as having the effect of ice conditions in the port on the ship’s power supply failure.

A marine explanation revealed that the accident could have been caused by a lump of ice or some other object getting into the ship’s propeller tunnel, causing an overload situation.

There are regulations in the Maritime Act that limit liability for compensation if the person who caused the damage is not unequivocally found to be at fault for the accident based on e.g. gross negligence.

“Of course, we hope that we don’t have to go to court because of the compensation. There, Viking would have to find out how it is possible for a 7-storey ship to crash right next to the city centre. Our strong view is that Viking has made mistakes that have contributed to the accident”, said Grünstein.

Allas Sea Pool has requested material related to the accident from Viking Line. “The fact that the party that caused the damage would not compensate for the damage does not make sense and is not in accordance with general morality”, as reported by hs.fi.

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