Mediterranean ferry group Baleària will shortly carry out sea trials of its nearly completed LNG-powered, 186-m long ferry, Hypatia de Alejandria, and has just floated its sister ship, Marie Curie, from the Cantiere Navale Visentini yard, the company has announced.
Hypatia de Alejandria will become the first new LNG-driven ferry on the Mediterranean when it starts service early 2019, followed a few months later by Marie Curie. The former is nearly ready to sail, with anti-scaling silicone being applied in drydock at present, while nearly all of the structure of its sister ship is finished and work is being completed on passenger and crew accommodation and recreational areas. Overall, more than half of the build of the vessel is complete, including the installation of the dual-fuel LNG engines with 20,600-kW of power, tanks and all primary equipment.
The combined investment for these ‘smart ships’ is €200M (US$226M). Identical in every respect, the ferries will have a maximum speed of 24 knots, capacity for 810 people, 2,100 linear metres of cargo and 150 vehicles. Baleària describes them as smart ships because, the company says, they have also been fitted with other energy-efficiency equipment such as LED lighting and digital technology that maximises their energy efficiency.
The company also recently announced another first for the Mediterranean – an order with Armon shipyard in Asturias, Spain, to build an LNG-powered fast ferry Baleària believes will be the first of its kind in the world. In another commitment to gas propulsion, in November Balearia converted the first of its existing fleet of six ferries to natural gas in a €72M investment.
Baleària’s long-term plan is to run at least half of its fleet on LNG power within the next three years, and all of it within ten years. The company has signed long-term agreements with Naturgy, the Spanish utility, for LNG supply until 2030, and with Rolls-Royce and Wartsila to build the engines.