Rauma shipyard - previously owned by STX Finland - has bounced back after being relaunched as Rauma Marine Constructions and is targeting the ferry newbuild market
Rauma Marine Constructions (RMC) has hailed its ferry order from Danish operator Molslinjen a “milestone”.
The order, placed in June 2016, is significant on two levels: it is both RMC’s first newbuilding order and the first ferry commission since the shipyard restarted as RMC.
The shipyard has been through a turbulent time since it was closed by former owner STX Finland in 2013 and subsequently bought by the city of Rauma in 2014, prior to being relaunched as RMC. Since that time, it has steadily increased its workforce to 350 employees, compared to 700 when the yard was owned by STX Finland. Investments have been made in yard facilities, with automated equipment being introduced to modernise the shipyard.
RMC executive vice president of sales and marketing Håkan Enlund told Marine Propulsion: “To restart a yard was tougher than we thought, but we are on the way and the Molslinjen order is an important milestone.”
Discussing the pace of the project, he said “We have had a controlled development in the increase in our newbuilding activity, if we accelerate too fast there is a danger that we will fall down.”
The company has recently undergone more changes to achieve its growth plans. In December last year, the shipyard announced it had appointed the chairman of its board, Jyrki Heinimaa, to be the new chief executive. In addition, RMC also elected a new chief operating officer, chairman of the board and member of the board.
“RMC’s growth story has been phenomenal from the beginning,” said Mr Heinimaa. “The changes in management are a natural consequence of the next growth phase of the company. At this stage, the challenges the company faces are different from those at the start-up phase. It is, therefore, the right time to strengthen and develop the management of RMC according to the requirements set by the new phase. Private sector funding has a crucial role to play in enabling growth and ensuring private funding in future projects will be essential to RMC’s growth,” he said.
Against this backdrop of change, RMC is building Molslinjen’s vessel and in doing so, surpassing some key targets. In March 2017, construction of the ship started ahead of schedule and RMC announced that construction has progressed as planned.
RMC launched the ship in January this year. The exterior of the ferry has been completed and the ship has now been relocated to a drydock for equipment assembly and interior work, followed by trial runs and commissioning. It will be delivered to Molslinjen by the end of June 2018.
The 158 m long ropax that RMC is building is the first vessel order that Molslinjen has placed with the yard. Designed and optimised for use on a route between Rønne on the Baltic island of Bornholm to mainland Denmark, it will have capacity for 600 passengers and will include two car decks totalling 1,500 lane m and able to take trailers, trucks and cars.
Mr Enlund said the ferry will run purely on marine gas oil. He noted this was unusual, as many ferry operators had decided to go down the LNG or scrubber route.
“We have gone a straightforward way and it is a clever solution that is less complicated than running on LNG or installing complicated exhaust cleaning devices that can be unpredictable,” he said.
The ferry will use engine heat recovery technology to heat up water used on board for consumption. Other energy-efficient methods include using LED lighting throughout the ship.
A partner approach
The new vessel will also include a Valmet DNA integrated automation system to cover the control, alarm and monitoring of machinery systems and Rolls-Royce scooped the contract to provide the main propellers and propulsion control system. Finnish engineering firm Telesilta will be responsible for system installation.
This illustrates the importance RMC places on using a partner-network approach. It is taking advantage of the maritime cluster that has formed in Rauma (and Finland), which has extensive experience in building and servicing car and passenger ferries.
While the Molslinjen newbuild is currently the only ferry on order, Mr Enlund said that while he was not able to reveal anything yet, there was “a lot of activity” around other possible ferry newbuild contracts for RMS.
The shipyard has a strong history of building ferries, having built 40 when it was under STX Finland for major operators including Stena Line, P&O Ferries and Brittany Ferries.
The shipyard also focuses on small- and medium-sized specialised vessels, including ice breakers and naval ships.
Other work it is currently carrying out includes the refurbishment and modernisation of the Finnish Environment Institute’s marine research vessel Aranda. The work will involve a 7 m extension to the vessel, as well as the implementation of an all-electric power transmission, which will significantly reduce the underwater noise emitted by the ship. And after signing a letter of intent in September 2016, RMC is now working under a design contract for the Squadron 2020 Programme of the Finnish Defence Forces.
However, the ferry sector is RMC’s main market and it aspires to grow its orders in this area.
“We want to be the major player that we used to be before the closure of the shipyard,” said Mr Enlund. He concluded: “Our strategy is to be a major player in the north European ferry market.”
RMC receives boost from Finnish maritime cluster
RMC has benefited from the strong maritime cluster in Finland, especially in Rauma and in the southwest of the country. According to figures from the Finnish Maritime Cluster 2020 study, produced by BRAHEA Centre and Turku School of Economics at the University of Turku and published in June 2016, there are 461 maritime companies in this area, making up 30% of Finland’s total maritime firms. Their combined turnover is €2.8Bn (US$3.4Bn), 23% of the Finnish maritime cluster’s turnover. Highlighting RMC’s beneficial location, Rauma is number two in the list of top 10 cities in the maritime cluster in southwest Finland with 94 companies located there, surpassed only by Turku with 246 companies.
RMC: a timeline
2013: STX Finland decides to close Rauma shipyard
2014: privately-owned Rauma Marine Constructions (supported by City of Rauma) takes over the shipyard. Local private investors play a key role re-establishing shipbuilding activity in Rauma. The Finnish flag is hoisted on the yard’s roof
2014/2015: the yard carries out refits on Tallink Group ferries and Finnish state-owned ice breakers
2015: RMC receives a further capital injection from the original local investors, Finnish Industry Investment and a fund managed by Taaleri
2016: RMC wins a contract to build a Molslinjen ropax
2017: RMC signs a design contract with Finnish Defence Forces (FDF Logistics Command) for Squadron 2020 corvettes