Viking ship may be forced out of Great Lakes

Norwegian Viking Ship Draken Harald Harfagre, as seen in this undated photo from the Draken Expedition America website, may be forced to leave the Tall Ships Challenge if it can't get its pilotage fees covered. (Draken Expedition America via Newswatch Group)

BROCKVILLE – A spokesperson for the world’s largest Viking ship says it will “most probably” be forced out of the Tall Ships Challenge 2016 due to pilotage fees on the Great Lakes.

The Draken Harald Harfagre announced today (July 11) on its website that the cost of pilotage would be too much for the non-profit sail training vessel to handle.

The ship’s management had been of the understanding from the Great Lakes Pilotage Authorities that it would not be subject to the fees but learned later that was not the case.

The Draken stopped in Brockville Friday, June 24, 2016 and will most likely be back through the seaway soon if it’s forced to leave the Great Lakes.

Based on the pilotage fees, the company believes it would cost them well over $400,000 U.S. ($400 U.S. per hour) to participate in the Tall Ships Challenge Great Lakes.

“It is very disappointing, the people in the harbors around the lakes are expecting us and we have been warmly welcomed in every port we have visited, it is a pity if we can not pursue this expedition,” Captain Bjorn Ahlander said.

The ship’s management believes the only way it can participate is if the fees are somehow covered. But a solution would have to come “in the next couple of days.”

Pilotage fees are paid by shipping companies to have someone with local waterway experience on the bridge to navigate through potential hazards.

The Tall Ships Brockville had hoped to have the ship at its September event but it wasn’t possible, so it instead opted for the weekend event last month.

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