The vessel will connect Umeå in Sweden and Vaasa in Finland, reduce voyage time by 20% and CO2 emissions by 50%
The new Wasaline ferry, set for launch in early 2021, will be a plug-in hybrid using LNG in dual-fuel engines. The engines will be capable of burning liquified biogas in the future. The €120M (US$134M) ferry will feature advanced technologies such as azimuthing pod propulsion thrusters, Wärtsilä embedded sensor engine technology, and smart engine and bridge systems.
LNG will be bunkered in Vaasa. Both the ports of Umeå and Vaasa plan to become carbon-neutral in the near future, and liquified biogas is expected to replace LNG. Batteries in the plug-in hybrid system can be charged in both ports. The capacity of the batteries is about 2 MWh and it will take 30 minutes to an hour to charge them in either port.
Batteries will support peak shaving, hotel loads and propulsion when manoeuvring within the ports. The aim is to make the ferry practically emissions-free and very quiet near ports. A catalyst ensures compliance to Tier III while the power system will have the flexibility to swap or add power sources, to be future-ready. With its eco-friendly features, the new ship will help preserve the Kvarken world heritage site where it will operate.
The propulsion system will have four Wärtsilä 8V31DF engines. The sensors will feed more than 1,000 data points to the Wärtsilä smart hub operational support centre not far from Wasaline’s office in Vaasa. Smart ship features will include automatic mooring, autonomous shipping and remote bridge navigation. The engineroom will be covered by a condition-based maintenance system.
The ferry will have a length of 150 m, beam of 26 m and design draught of 6.1 m. With a deadweight of 3,500 tonnes, it will have a passenger capacity of 800 people with 68 cabins, and freight capacity of 1,500 lane m for trucks. The vessel can steam ahead at 20 knots. The ferry will have restaurants, a business lounge, family cafeteria and will be able to host conferences. A competition to name the ship has been thrown open to the public and is underway.
“The design supports flexibility and the ability to maintain a high level of innovation through the lifespan of the vessel, not just upon delivery,” says Wasaline head of marketing Catarina Fant. Rauma Marine Constructions is building the vessel.
The Azipod propulsion system, where the electric drive motor is in a submerged pod outside the ship hull, can rotate 360° to increase manoeuvrability and operating efficiency. It is claimed to cut fuel consumption by 20% compared to shaftline propulsion systems.
The new ferry’s trip from Vaasa to Umeå will take about 3.5 hours, covering some 52 nautical miles. The existing ferry takes nearly 4.5 hours. Manoeuvring time in each port will be around five minutes. “Now the ferry makes one a trip a day. The new ferry will do two round trips,” says Ms Fant. She adds that turnaround times in the ports will be much faster. The vehicles can just drive through instead of reversing.
The vessel will comply with Ice Class 1A Super. The area sees long ice winters and the highest ice-class rating will help achieve year-round ferry operation. The Vaasa and Umeå ferry may well be the world’s northernmost year-round ferry operation. It is the first newbuild on this route, though ferries have been operating on the route since the 1940s.
Ice class ensures the ship has a special design and hull strengthening arrangements to negotiate ice. Machinery will operate in sub-zero temperatures. Navigational aids will be designed for poor visibility and the deck and superstructure will cope with freezing.
While the present ferry, Wasa Express, uses low sulphur distillate, the new ferry will use LNG as fuel. Waste heat utilisation was confined to low temperature water, while the new ferry will extract waste heat from high temperature and low temperature water as well as the exhaust gas.
Wasaline’s parent company, NLC Ferry is co-owned by the municipality of Umeå in Sweden and the city of Vaasa in Finland. The company was founded in 2012.
In January 2013, NLC Ferry/Wasaline started the traffic between Vaasa and Umeå with Wasa Express. Kvarken Ports, a joint port company commenced operations in January, 2015. In 2019, Kvarken Link Oy was founded. All companies are owned 50-50 by the municipality of Umeå and the city of Vaasa.
NLC Ferry started planning the ferry’s construction in 2016 and the contract with Rauma was signed between Kvarken Link and the shipyard in January, 2019. Construction of the new ferry began at the Rauma shipyard in September. Keel laying is scheduled for February 2020 and its maiden voyage is expected to be in May 2021.
Merima, a company providing turnkey solutions for shipbuilding, has been appointed to build all the public areas and cabins, and large parts of the technical areas.
Marioff will deliver its Hi-Fog high-pressure water mist fire suppression system. Two pump units and more than 1,000 Hi-Fog sprinklers will protect the crew, passengers and property.
The interiors of the new ferry are being designed by Kudos Design. Using natural colours, the interiors will reflect the Botnian archipelago, the open fields and the landscape of Västerbotten.