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Editor in chief: Angelo Scorza
11/09/17 08:47

Jadrolinija, new flagship and new board

The Presidente and CEO Klanac unveiled details about the next newbuilding of the Croatian ferry line just before being dismissed by the Government

At completion of an almost four long tender for the selection which saw some 20 candidates applications, a new management board has taken the helm of Jadrolinija after the recent dismissal of the former one.

The 3-person board just designated by the Zagreb Government to run Croatia's biggest shipping company operating in the Adriatic and by traffic volume one of the biggest ferry operators in the World, with a fleet of 50 vessels and annual traffic of 10 million passengers and 2.5 million vehicles, is led by David Sopta, a former assistant to the foreign minister in his role as director of the Real Group for International Affairs, who is officially the new president of the Croatian ferry line. He will be supported by Predrag Govorčin from Adriatic Shipbrokers company and Ante Vranješ, group leader in the Rijeka branch of the BKS Bank.

This decision terminates the mandate of the entire existing board – that lasted overall 4 years and 4 months - comprised of President & CEO Alan Klanc, Marko Čičin Šain, in charge of financial, commercial and general affairs, and Miljenko Antić, responsible for technical and operational affairs.

Interestingly the option of management continuity was not selected as it was for the last couple of decades, which is sort of a precedent. The link between the former managements headed by Slavko Lončar and Alan Klanac was Miljenko Antić, not confirmed this time even though he applied for the position, as well as Marko Čičin Šain. These changes in the management board are drastic and it remains to be seen whether the three dismesse top managers will remain in the ferry company, although at some other position.

According  to local observers, the biggest drawback of the decision is certainly the fact that the new management team of the largest Croatian shipping company has almost no relevant work experience in shipping and maritime affairs; surprisingly in fact requirements of the tender did not state this as a necessary condition.

One requirement was a university degree; David Sopta has a mechanical engineering degree obtained at the Faculty of Engineering in Rijeka and spent most of his career in insurance companies, and for two years he was an Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs.

During the outgoing board management’s term some positive steps have been achieved in the segment of online shopping of tickets that, considering the nature of the company’s business, should have been introduced a lot earlier. Also, the fleet has been rejuvenated by 4 new ships.

Still there is in the local community the impression that much more could have been done concerning.

A crucial issue for the future of the company is the new 10-year business plan worth 281 million euro for the period up to 2027 that includes the very ambitious goal of 26 vessels coming into the fleet, including 23 new ships, in view of the next to come – most probably in 2018 – full internationalliberalization of the Croatian cabotage market.

A question to be sorted out is the bad relationships with trade union representatives, as well as the difficulty of signing a collective agreement, by Klanac and his mates. In fact also recently the Seafarers Union of Croatia and the Independent Union of Seafarers asked the Government to dismiss the board even before its already anticipated end of term.

Curiously just a few days before being dismissed Klanac announced details of the next to be flagship of the line; in fact Jadrolinija is determined to have it built a new ship worth 50 million euro to connect the country’s outlying islands with the mainland. The first 3D computer visualisation of the project, designed to sail in testing conditions on the Adriatic Sea, has been created. The newbuilding  will have 10,000 dwt, 120 metres length and the capacity of 220 vehicles and 1,500 passengers; she will feature two large salons with cafes and other amenities and have 4 engines MDO-powered and, though destined for domestic service, she will be SOLAS-compliant.

The ro-pax will be homeported in Split, serving the isles of Hvar, Korcula and Vis; she is expected to join the fleet in 2020 to replace the Lastovo, built in 1970 and carrying only 60 vehicles.

“The basic idea is that the new ship will be able to sail in the harsh conditions of sailing on the open sea and connect destinations where it takes at between 5 to 6 hours to travel with several stops on the way” Managing Director Alan Klanac said.

One year ago Polish ship design company Remontowa Marine Design & Consulting won the public tender for the development of the concept and classification design of the ship, part of a larger fleet renewal project for the Croatian state-owned operator.

The ship is currently being model tested and a public tender to build it will be sent out shortly although it is expected that a Croatian shipyard will land the contract.

Just after the quite surprising announcement by the Croatian government that Jadrolinija’s management board will be replaced, Klanac officially stated. “I am personally really proud of how my team has taken Jadrolinija through a period of strong growth and especially grateful to  employees who work so hard every day to make Jadrolinija the best possible operation it can be. I wish the new management board every success to continue playing a strong international role in this industry. I plan to stay in the industry and continue my involvement within Interferry, as president, being based in Split and looking forward to seeing all colleagues and friends soon.”

Klanac also told Ship2Shore that “Nothing really happened, our term has ended 4 months ago already and government was late with tender for electing the board; finally they made the decision a week ago and they went with new faces. I guess the people in the government have more confidence the new guys will do a better job”.

Experienced in company management, project management, ship design, optimization of ship structures, risk analysis, Klanac published over 50 papers in scientific journals and conferences. Member of the Int. Ship and Offshore Structures Congress (ISSC), committee IV.1 'Design Principles and Criteria', member of DNVGL Ferry Committee, Council member at Tourist board Rijeka, and supervisory board member at Tourist board Kvarner, Lecturer in the fields of Structural Optimization and Ship Structures, involved in various EU funded R&D projects on ship design and ship structures, and Croatian Shipowners Association,Vice Chairman for 1 year and 4 months, one year ago he was designated as

President of Interferry, a membership organisation representing passenger ferry shipping worldwide that, with a permanent representation at IMO, cares to promote safe and reliable shipping in the ferry field.

Angelo Scorza