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Pushing passenger shipping boundaries

Fri 21 Apr 2017

Pushing passenger shipping boundaries
Hurtigruten will take delivery of the first of two innovative hybrid cruise ships in 2018

Norwegian companies are continuing to innovate in the design and technology of cruise ships and ferries to meet new demand and regulations

Norway has been at the forefront of innovation in passenger ship design and technology in recent years, such as the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and electric propulsion. This trend is continuing with new designs of expedition cruise ships and automated ferries as examples.

In February 2017 the first of two new expedition cruise ships for Norwegian operator Hurtigruten started construction at the Kleven yard in Ulsteinvik. The vessels have been designed in Norway by Rolls-Royce. There are options for two more ships. These ships are part of Hurtigruten’s strategy of further expansion into the expedition cruise sector, which will also see strategic development into the Asia-Pacific region with a new office opening in Hong Kong.

The two Polar class vessels will be delivered in 2018 and 2019, each with capacity for 530 passengers. The ships are purpose-designed for Arctic and Antarctic cruises and to reduce noise and emissions they will incorporate electric propulsion. Hurtigruten says that they will be the first ships with true hybrid propulsion. Initially they will be able to operate in fully electric mode for up to 30 minutes.

Hurtigruten chief executive Daniel Skjeldam said: “The future of shipping is both silent and emissions free. We will use our new expedition ships as icebreakers for this technology and show the world that hybrid operation of large ships is already possible.”

The first newbuild, Roald Amundsen, featuring hybrid LNG-diesel propulsion will debut Antarctic cruises in 2018. The second ship, Fridtjof Nansen, with additional electric propulsion capability will be delivered in summer 2019.

The hybrid technology for Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen is planned for delivery in two phases. In phase one, auxiliary battery power will provide large reductions in fuel consumption as a result of peak shaving. This solution is to be installed on the first ship. In phase two, larger batteries will be installed, enabling the possibility of fully electric sailing across longer distances and over longer periods of time. This will be used when sailing into fjords, at port and in vulnerable areas, providing silent and emissions free sailing. Rolls-Royce aims to install this new technology in the second ship. Hurtigruten plans to refurbish the first ship with the same technology in due course.

Mikael Makinen, Rolls-Royce president marine, said: “The two new cruise vessels for Hurtigruten represent a dream project for us, delivering our latest technology innovations into beautifully designed and fit-for-purpose vessels.”

Norwegian ferry operator Color Line is pushing technology boundaries, too, signing a letter of intent with Norwegian builder Ulstein to build a large hybrid ferry. At 160m long with capacity for 2,000 passengers and 500 cars Color Line claims it will be the world’s largest hybrid vessel when it enters service in summer 2019. The ferry will operate on Color Line’s route from Sandefjord to Strömstad and will use full battery power while in Sandefjord. Its batteries will be recharged using a power cable, using green electricity from shore or electricity from the ship’s generators.

Trond Kleivdal, Color Line president, said: “The signing of the letter of intent represents a significant step to realise the world’s largest plug-in hybrid ship. It is very gratifying that the Norwegian shipbuilding industry has proven its competitiveness internationally.”

In another claimed world first, Rolls-Royce signed a contract to supply propulsion and control systems for a pair of automatic double-ended battery powered ferries for Fjord1 to operate on the 2.4km route between the Norwegian ports of Anda and Lote. Norwegian ship design company Multi Maritime developed the design in co-operation with Fjord1.

The automated systems will control the vessels’ acceleration, deceleration, speed and track. They will be powered by Rolls-Royce azimuthing thrusters that will also be designed to respond to environmental conditions to ensure optimum behaviour and efficiency. Although the ferries will be able to operate automatically, they can be operated manually if necessary, such as when docking.

The vessels are being built in Turkey and are due to be delivered in late 2017 in time to enter service at the beginning of 2018. The ferries will each have capacity for 350 passengers, 120 cars and 12 trailers.