The French state on Thursday said it would nationalize a shipyard in western France that's building Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas— the world's largest cruise ship.
French economy minister Bruno Le Maire said the state would exercise pre-emptive rights to buy the two-thirds of the giant STX France shipyard in St. Nazaire that it does not already own. The move is designed to prevent Italian state-owned shipbuilder Fincantieri from taking control of the facility.
Fincantieri had reached an agreement in May to buy the two-thirds stake in STX France. The stake is being sold in the wake of the collapse of STX France's South Korea-based parent STX.
Le Maire said the takeover of STX France was being done to protect France's strategic interests and would be temporary. The French government has proposed an ownership structure for the shipyard that would leave Fincantieri with just a 50% stake.
STX France is the only shipyard in France big enough to build big warships. It's also a significant employer in France.
A spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean suggested the nationalization of the shipyard would not have an impact on the delivery of Symphony of the Seas.
"Symphony is on schedule," Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez told USA TODAY.
Scheduled to debut in April, Symphony of the Seas has been under construction at the STX France shipyard for more than a year. The massive, 230,000-ton ship was floated out from a dry dock at the facility in June, a construction milestone that marked the end of basic exterior work. It is now undergoing months of finishing work to its interior.
Symphony of the Seas will be more than 3,000 tons bigger than the current size leader in the cruise world, Royal Caribbean's 226,963-ton Harmony of the Seas. Like Harmony of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas will be part of Royal Caribbean's record-breaking Oasis Class of vessels, though it won't be an exact copy of its sisters.
STX France also is building several new ships for MSC Cruises and Celebrity Cruises that are scheduled to debut over the next few years. Among the most notable vessels under way at the shipyard is Celebrity Edge, the first of a new class of ship for the line. It's scheduled for completion in late 2018.
An as-yet-unnamed sister to Symphony of the Seas also is scheduled to be built at STX France in coming years with delivery set for 2021.