Two Arctic cruise ships seized by Russia

Two cruise ships leased by Canada-based cruise company One Ocean Expeditions (OOE) from the Russian state have been seized by Russia, apparently without warning.
Passenger/cruise vessel MV Akademik Ioffe (IMO 8507731) and research vessel MV Akademik Sergey Vavilov (IMO 8507729) had been leased from Russia since 2011 and 2012. The vessels each carried fewer than 100 passengers and were used for Arctic and Antarctic cruises.
OOE said that they were seized last month without warning. “The owners’ refusal to provide the vessels is a breach of their contract with OOE,” the company wrote in a letter to booking agents, according to a report by Australia-based Traveller. The company added that OOE had “done everything in its power to compel the owners to abide by their contractual obligations. The vessel owners unexpectedly decided to return the vessels to Kaliningrad, Russia, for purported repairs. This was not communicated to OOE in advance”.
The OOE has taken legal action, filing an urgent application for arbitration proceedings. “Unfortunately, it is now clear that no matter what OOE does the vessels will not be provided for the upcoming 2019-20 cruising seasons, despite our contract. Given that the legal proceedings initiated by OOE following the contract breach could lead to the arrest of the vessels should they leave Russia, OOE has undertaken to share a full account of what has transpired with our agents and partners.”
The Russian government seized the ships in late May, claiming that the vessels needed to be taken to Kaliningrad to be worked on in part of a modernization project”.
1989-built, Russia-flagged, 6,450 gt Akademik Ioffe is owned and managed by Shirshov Institute, Moscow, Russia.
1988-built, 6,344 gt Akademik Sergey Vavilov has the same ownership. It is entered with Hydor AS.