Brokers report that the 16,144-gt ASTORIA (built 1948) has been sold for recycling at a European Union-approved facility for an undisclosed sum by Puerto Rico-based The Roundtable LLC., according to TradeWinds.
The sale brings to a close one of the most colourful careers of any ship, one that began in the dark days of World War II, when Swedish American Line ordered a passenger ship at AB Gotaverken in 1944. Built with an ice-strengthened bow for year-round transatlantic liner service, the ship, as Stockholm, sailed on its first voyage in February 1948, becoming the world’s first post-war passenger ship newbuilding. Small in comparison with other passenger ships engaged in the transatlantic trade, the Stockholm would have had an unremarkable career had it not slammed into the flagship of the Italian government’s passenger fleet, the 29,000-gt Andrea Doria (built 1953), on a foggy night off New York in July 1956. The Andrea Doria sank. The Stockholm survived with a crumpled bow. The collision cost the lives of 51 passengers and crew from both ships.
Swedish American Line sold the Stockholm to East Germany’s VEB Deutsche Seereederei in 1960. Renamed Volkerfreundschaft, it was converted into a cruise ship for the Communist Party and trade union members. This career lasted until 1985, with the Swedish connection maintained via frequent charters to Stena Line.
The Volkerfreundschaft was sold in 1985 to Neptunus Rex Enterprises, a Panamanian-registered company that chartered it to the Norwegian government, which used it as a barracks ship in Oslo for asylum seekers. During this time the ship was named after the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen.
Italy’s Starlauro was the next owner, acquiring it in 1989 with the intention of rebuilding it for further use as the cruise ship Sorrento.
The ship was sold to Nina di Navigazione before any work was done, and soon it was moved to a shipyard where it was completely gutted and rebuilt into the ITALIA PRIMA, a modern cruise ship capable of carrying 580 passengers.Nina mostly put the Italia Prima out on charter to other cruise operators, as did next owner Classic International Cruises, for which it sailed as ATHENA
Next, the ship was sold to Portuguese start-up Portuscale Cruises, which renamed it AZORES and put it out under charter. UK-based Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) was one of those charterers. It renamed the ship ASTORIA and continued to charter it from mortgage holder Montepio Bank after Portuscale collapsed in 2015. CMV entered administration in 2020, leading to the Astoria being seized by the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency.Montepio stepped in to reclaim the vessel, moving it to Rotterdam, where attempts were made to find a buyer.
Cryptocurrency billionaire Brock Pierce acquired the ASTORIA in mid-2021 with the intention of using it as a cruise ship. TradeWinds understands that Pierce lost interest in the ship after determining that the cost of returning it to service was economically unfeasible, given its advanced age.