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Reprinted from The Florida Shipper - March 17, 1997

Half cruise, half cargo vessel

Is it a cruise vessel... or is it a cargo vessel? The correct answer is both, temporarily. This hybrid ship (which is a RoRo in drag) is the result of a seven month timecharter, under the auspices of S. Danoff USA Limited, to 20th Century Fox's for the movie sequel SPEED 2. It is rare when shipbrokers are presented with the opportunity to participate in the glamorous movie industry. However, the circumstances behind the scenes can be quite unglamorous when the client is a shipping novice and the requirements are, to say the least, ambitious and complex. Nonetheless, we successfully concluded three fixtures to 20th Century Fox and are now looking forward to the result of our work when the film is released in the United States this summer.

The first requirement, which evolved into our first fixture, was for a gearless Container or RoRo vessel with an aft house and 180 meters LOA to perform as a 'stunt' double for the cruise vessel, M/V "SEABOURNE LEGEND". The formidable task of this request was that 20th Century Fox intended to build a facade over the 'stunt' ship's bow which would be identical to that of the forward portion of the M/V "SEABOURNE LEGEND". This required a significant amount of construction, which of course was subject to the Classification's Society's approval throughout the entire transformation. Additionally, 20th Century Fox expected the vessel to be able to sail and maneuver freely with its new accessory, which we understand was quite a feat for the Master as stability was extremely tender and most visibility was lost.

The second requirement/fixture was a VLCC which would eventually collide (or appear to collide) with the 'stunt' ship, explode and sink to its grave. Not only was it difficult to find a tanker that would be in the Caribbean within Charterers' narrow laycan, we also had to find an Owner willing to have his vessel appear to sink on screen. Likewise, 20th Century Fox were envisioning a vast amount of pyrotechnics exploding on board the tanker in order to obtain the special effects they were seeking. Hence the tanker had to be completely gas-free and inerted prior to delivery.

Obviously 20th Century Fox required Owners, vessels and crews that would be flexible and helpful, not to mention permit a movie cast of close to 100 people to invade the vessels during their charters. The terms and conditions of the respective Charter Parties had to be specially written to cover all safety, class and insurance matters not to mention unforeseen circumstances which could potentially happen to either the Owner or the Charterer.

Our third fixture for these Charterers was a conventional voyage charter to move film equipment and general cargo to its final destination. Although this charter was less exciting than its predecessors, it was equally gratifying.

We will not soon forget our enlightening experience with 20th Century Fox and the efforts that went into making their movie. The RoRo/ Cruise ship in drag is now being returned to her normal, cargo carrying self and the VLCC has gone on to less exciting, but equally important engagements. We, at S. Danoff USA Ltd. are continuing on with business as usual anxiously awaiting our next big break in the vast business of shipping.

Melissa D. Stasa

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