The city of Portland will join more than a half-dozen vendors who claim that Nova Star Cruises owes them more than $1.6 million.

Charles Remmel, a lawyer for the Portland Development Corp., said the ferry service owes more than $151,000 to the PDC for a loan it extended last year for modifications to the Nova Star, the ferry that ran for two years between Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The Portland Development Corp. is a city economic development agency that lends money to companies looking to locate or expand in Portland.

Remmel said the ferry needed to be modified to operate in Portland and the PDC loaned Nova Star Cruises the money to make the changes before it began daily roundtrips to Canada in early 2014.

Remmel said the cruise line also owes the city more than $85,000 for use of city facilities when it tied up in Portland.

The city and PDC filed notices on Friday that the two entities planned to get involved in the case. Remmel said formal liens will be filed early next week.

The ferry is currently anchored in Casco Bay near the entrance to Portland Harbor. It was seized by U.S. Marshals on Oct. 30 after the Portland Pilots, a company which provided pilot services to the ferry, filed papers in U.S. District Court, claiming it was owed more than $195,000.

Since then, other vendors have filed claims in court, saying they have unpaid bills with the cruise line.

World Fuel Services says it is owed $491,000; Vessel Services Inc. claims $483,000 in unpaid bills; Sprague Operating Resources has submitted a lien for $147,000; and Brown Ship Services said it is owed $48,000. Other smaller amounts are owed to companies that provided chandlery and marketing services.

A Nova Star Cruises spokesman has said the company intends to pay all outstanding bills.

Remmel said that if it fails to do so, the ship could be sold to satisfy the bills. Even though the ship is owned by Singapore Technologies Marine, Remmel said that under maritime law, the owner’s interest is subordinate to those with valid liens.

Nova Star Cruises leased the ship from Singapore Technologies Marine after a French ferry operate refused to take delivery on the ship because of delays in its construction.

The cruise line’s service had been heavily subsidized by the Nova Scotia government, which considers the ferry service from Portland to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, essential to its tourism trade. On Oct. 26, the province announced that it had given the company its final $1.5 million payment for the season. The money is the last installment of nearly $10 million ($13 million Canadian) in funding the government promised for Nova Star’s 2015 sailing season. It provided $28 million in subsidies the first year of the Nova Star contract.

Citing frustration with the service, the Nova Scotia government elected to award the contract for the 2016 ferry service to Bay Ferries LTD. The details of that contract are expected to be finalized by mid-December.


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