Norwegian builder Vard has successfully diversified into cruise shipbuilding with a number of new orders
Vard has the advantage of being owned by Fincantieri, the Italian shipbuilding group with decades of experience of building cruise ships. It has won orders from French cruise ship operator Ponant and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.
German cruise operator Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, part of the TUI tourism group, placed orders for two expedition cruise ships at Vard. The two vessels are designed to the PC6 Polar class standard. The 138m long, 22m wide vessels will measure 16,100gt, with passenger capacity for 240 passengers and up to 170 crew members. The hulls of the vessels will be built by Vard’s shipyard in Tulcea, Romania, and delivery is scheduled from Vard Langsten in Norway in the first quarter of 2019 and fourth quarter of 2019.
Speaking at the Annual Offshore Support Journal conference in London in February 2017 Vard chief executive Roy Reite explained the company’s new business plan and strategy. He said that it is based on research and development, innovation and new concepts. New market opportunities that it has identified are intended to leverage Vard’s expertise in building engineering and technology intensive vessels. They include expedition cruise ships, offshore patrol vessels, and offshore wind and aquaculture vessels. “As the world changes demand for products and services changes with it, providing new marine opportunities in adventure, energy, seafood and security,” he said.
This strategy produced results, with a number of new shipbuilding contracts including four expedition cruise vessels for Ponant, two expedition cruise vessels for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, 17 module carriers for Topaz Energy and Marine, three module carrier vessels for Kazmortransflot in Kazakhstan, and an advanced factory stern trawler for Havfisk in Norway.
In recognition of his efforts in transforming Vard in response to the downturn in the offshore sector, Mr Reite was the winner of the 2017 OSJ Industry Leader Award. The award recognises Mr Reite’s ability to lead Vard through a period of transformation in 2016, into new markets such as the expedition cruise and aquaculture segments. But offshore has not been completely forgotten and the yard successfully picked up an order to build a large number of module carrier vessels.
Mr Reite said: “I give all credit to our highly adaptable employees in Vard. Together we have developed a broad portfolio of vessels and solutions that have given us new opportunities in new markets. Vard signed contracts for 27 specialised vessels in 2016, including a stern trawler, 20 module carrier vessels and six luxury expedition cruise vessels, in addition to barges and solutions for the fishery and aquaculture industry. The order intake also includes conversions and maintenance of vessels, as well as our specialised subsidiaries’ sales of products and services to other players in the market.”
As part of its recent diversification Vard entered into an agreement to acquire Storvik Aqua, a leading equipment supplier in the aquaculture industry based in Sunndalsøra, Norway. Storvik Aqua has a production facility in Norway and subsidiaries in Chile and Scotland. The company will continue to operate under its existing brand name, but in close interaction with Vard Aukra shipyard. Storvik Aqua’s products will enable Vard Aukra to deliver specialised vessels for fish farming with innovative integrated solutions, differentiating it in the market.
In 2017 Vard has further diversified, into the ferry market, winning an order to build to LNG-fuelled ropax ferries for Norwegian operator Torghatten Nord. The ferries are designed for environmentally friendly operations in the Norwegian fjords and are able to accommodate up to 180 cars and 550 passengers and crew. The ferries, of Multi Maritime MM 125FD design, will measure 130m in length with a beam of 20.7m and will have a speed of approximately 18 knots.
Mr Reite commented: “I would like to welcome Torghatten Nord as a new client to Vard. We look forward to working with its team on this exciting project, combining LNG propulsion and battery systems. Vard has long experience in building LNG powered and dual-fuel vessels. We delivered the world’s first LNG powered car and passenger ferry in 2000, and have delivered a broad range of ships using this innovative technology since, including offshore vessels, ferries and a fish feed carrier.”
Delivery of the ferries is scheduled from Vard Brevik in Norway in the third quarter of 2018 and fourth quarter of 2018. The hulls of the vessels will be built by Vard Braila in Romania. They will be equipped with hybrid gas-electric propulsion with battery systems to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, meeting the latest requirements for energy efficiency. The ferries will be used on the Halhjem-Sandvikvåg crossing, where Torghatten Nord has been awarded a five-year contract by the Norwegian Government.
In March 2017 Vard secured a contract to build another fishing vessel, this time a pelagic trawler for Research Fishing Co. The 80m long, 16.2m wide vessel is designed in Norway by Skipsteknisk.
North American subsidiary Vard Marine has won a contract to design a new offshore patrol cutter for the United States Coast Guard, based on the Vard 7 110 design. The vessels will be built in the USA.