When ships operate in environmentally sensitive areas, emissions and efficiency are top priorities, Paul Gunton reports
While Hurtigruten has been planning its environment-friendly newbuilding programme, it has also been investing across its existing fleet to improve its fuel efficiency and reduce its environmental impact.
Speaking to invited guests on board its 11,204gt cruise ship Nordlys, the Norwegian operator’s chief operating officer, Tor Geir Engebretsen, listed some aspects of its ships’ operations that have been upgraded over the past three years – fuel, propellers, engines, shore power and waste handling.
Alongside these, it is refurbishing its six 90s class ships, built in the 1990s, at a cost of about NKr100 million (US$11.7 million) each. Four were completed at Norway’s Fosen Yard during 2016 and the other two – including 1994-built Nordlys – are set to follow, although the yard had not been confirmed at the time of Mr Engebretsen’s briefing in April.
Fuel is Hurtigruten’s largest cost area, Mr Engebretsen said. It amounts to around NKr450 million (US$52.8 million) per year on its Norwegian coastal service. The operator’s coastal ships have always used low sulphur fuel but since the beginning of this year they have burned a low sulphur distillate produced by Shell, which Mr Engebretsen described as an “even more environmentally friendly kind of diesel.” Its explorer cruise vessels are using this fuel when they can obtain it.
It is also fitting fuel monitoring meters on its ships which will allow consumption to be monitored from shore offices. This will enable ships to be compared and fuel costs to be managed.
“It is in our DNA to be kind to nature” Tor Geir Engebretsen (Hurtigruten)
Propeller upgrades have been contracted to Rolls-Royce, beginning in November 2013 when it retrofitted its Promas Lite system to Richard With, replacing its previous Rolls-Royce controllable pitch propellers. Four other vessels have since been similarly upgraded, Nordlys, Nordkapp, Nordnorge and Kong Harald. Promas Lite is an integrated propeller and rudder system and the refits have produced fuel savings of up to 4.2 per cent, according to measurements by class society DNV GL.
These upgrades cost about NKr7 million (US$829,761) per ship. Eighty per cent of this was provided by the Norwegian Government’s NOx Fund, to which shipping companies contribute in proportion to their NOx emissions. Thanks to this support, the investment’s payback is less than a year, Mr Engebretsen said.
Two other vessels – Trollfjord and Midnatsol – have been fitted with Rolls-Royce Azipull thrusters in place of their previous twin thrusters.
Ole Christian Walle, currently chief engineer on Richard With but who oversaw the propeller upgrade project, told Passenger Ship Technology that other ships in the fleet had been reviewed but had sufficiently efficient propellers that no upgrades were necessary.
Engine upgrades have been carried out on four ships to bring their NOx emissions up to IMO Tier II standards. The three largest ships in the fleet, Midnatsol, Trollfjord and Finnmarken, have been given new Napier turbochargers. The three larger ships all have Wärtsilä 32 engines, which benefitted from modifications to their cylinder heads and exhaust systems. The result has been a significant reduction in NOx emissions, Mr Engebretsen said.
Polarlys – one of the 90s class ships – has a Bergen engine, while its five class mates are fitted with MaK machines. Unlike most engines, these have a dedicated lube oil feed for cylinder lubrication but tests have been carried out, with MaK, to run the engines without that extra supply. Those tests were successful and MaK agreed that the engines could be run without it, significantly reducing lube consumption, Mr Walle said.
Shore power is being introduced, both on Hurtigruten’s ships and at some of the ports where they call, to reduce emissions, noise, fuel and generator use. So far, four ships have been fitted with equipment from the French company LG3, with the rest to follow. Mr Engebretsen estimated the cost at about NKr2 million (234,791) per ship – “a modest investment,” he said – with some funding available from the NOx Fund.
Not every port will be suitable for shore power. Many Hurtigruten port calls are very short, so it will be ports such as Ålesund, Trondheim, Bodø, Tromsø and Kirkenes, as well as Bergen, where vessels make longer stops, where shore power would be viable. Shore power is due to come into use in Bergen during the third quarter of this year. It will be the ports that make that decision, but they, too, can claim state funding towards their investment.
Onboard waste management exceeds regulatory requirements, Mr Engebretsen said. He specifically mentioned Midnatsol, which is used for Arctic and Antarctic cruises at some times of the year. Regulations would allow it to discharge grey water overboard when more than 300m from land but it has been fitted with equipment that separates all solids from waste water, retaining sludge on board and pumping out only clean water. Bilge water is also cleaned before being discharged.
On all its ships, garbage is compressed and stored on board before being offloaded ashore. Black water and food waste is also kept on board until a suitable port call.
There will always be more environmental initiatives to take, Mr Engebretsen told Passenger Ship Technology. “The big things that reduce cost and emissions have been done,” and smaller things, such as waste handling have been addressed. “But can we have a plastic-free ship?” he wondered. Because of the regions in which Hurtigruten’s ships operate, “whatever we can do that makes sense we will do. It is in our DNA to be kind to nature,” he said.
Say no to HFO
Hurtigruten joined a number of environmental organisations in January to campaign for a heavy fuel oil (HFO) free Arctic. On 25 January, during the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromsø, Norway, the ship operator’s chief executive, Daniel Skjeldam, signed the Arctic Commitment at an event called ‘Say no to HFO – Support for a Sustainable Arctic Future,’ hosted by Hurtigruten and other members of the Clean Arctic Alliance.
The ‘Say no to HFO’ campaign commits the operator to call for a phase-out of HFO by ships in the Arctic and to “urge IMO member states and stakeholders to advance this goal.”
None of Hurigruten’s ships use HFO and its communications manager, Rune Thomas Ege, believes the operator’s stance “says we are something different – a cruise line that is pushing for more regulation.” The Antarctic is the most heavily regulated area on Earth, he said. “There is no reason why the same regulation should not apply to the far north as the far south.”
He estimated that it might be costing about NKr100 million (US$11.7 million) more per year to use low-sulphur fuel than HFO, but he said that the campaign is not motivated by bringing other operators’ costs into line. “I do not care about our competitors,” he said. “We say that shipping needs to play its part in cutting emissions and we are not very popular in the business for saying so.”
• Read the Arctic Commitment and related media via bit.ly/SayNo2HFO