Tallink charters Isabelle ferry that hosts refugees to a Canadian company

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Tallink's passenger ferry M/S Isabelle acts as temporary accommodation for refugees fleeing war in Ukraine.
Tallink's passenger ferry M/S Isabelle acts as temporary accommodation for refugees fleeing war in Ukraine. Source: Anna Pavlenko/Raadio 4

Tallink Group will charter the Latvian-flagged vessel Isabelle, which has been providing temporary accommodation to Ukrainian war refugees in Tallinn's Old Port since April last year, to Canadian entity Bridgemans Floatel LP/Bridgemans Services Group LP from July 1.

Isabelle will be chartered for several years, with the option of buying out. The vessel will be rented without the crew of Tallink.

Paavo Nõgene, chair of the board of directors of Tallink, said ship chartering has been and will continue to be an essential component of the company's business.

"There are a number of reasons for the long-term chartering of vessels, and it is a combination of continued economic uncertainty, low consumer confidence, significant pressure on cost growth, and a host of other factors," Nõgene said.

After July 1, Isabelle will initially stay in Tallinn for maintenance and repairs before heading to Canada at the end of this year.

The current Isabelle chartering contract between Tallink and the Social Insurance Board expires in June. At present, there are about 900 Ukrainian war refugees in state-provided temporary housing aboard the ship.

According to Tallink, the social security office has a plan in place and is taking action to locate alternative accommodation for the remaining refugees.

ERR is seeking a response from the Ministry of Social Affairs regarding where migrants will be housed in the future. 

Isabelle. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

SKA statement

The Social Insurance Board (SKA) will increase the number of counsellors on board in the run-up to the expiry of the Isabelle contract, the Ministry of Social Affairs said in a comment.

When SKA's rental agreement expires, and a person does not have a place to live, the SKA will provide them with new temporary housing. The ministry said in a statement that board counsellors will take into account each family's wishes, in addition to their work, school and nursery school placements.

The Isabelle, docked in Tallinn's Old Harbor, has been hosting Ukrainian war refugees since April last year. There are presently about 800 Ukrainian war refugees residing in state-provided temporary housing aboard the ship.

This article has been updated with comments from the Social Insurance Board.


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