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Business as Unusual

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Covid-19 crisis has hit the marine industry in various ways – and cruise lines and shipyards alike have been struggling to cope. Meyer Turku has been able, for the most part, to keep its eye on the ball and keep grinding, despite mounting odds.

Turku also has the benefit of fresh energy in the corner office as Tim Meyer stepped in as the CEO of Meyer Turku shipyard in summer 2020. Being a family-owned company, the Meyers see the value in rotating duties from time to time; Jan Meyer, who led the shipyard for six years, is now the Managing Director of Meyer Werft, Germany. Tim Meyer was previously the managing director of Meyer Werft so the brothers are, in essence, changing jobs.

Last summer, the family patriarch Bernard Meyer commented that it’s always been the plan to rotate the leadership at some suitable time in the future. According to Bernard Meyer, the handling of corona crisis will require and lead to major changes on all yards; and as these changes and new structures are implemented, it was now “good timing” to carry out a family internal leadership switch between Jan and Tim.

Additional goal of the switch was to ensure continuous improvement by changing perspectives and defining the future structure of the Meyer production network.

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POWER OF THREE

Returning to Germany, Jan Meyer noted that the three yards in Papenburg, Turku and Warnemünde are already working closely together – the yards are constantly learning from each other and the company is seeing the benefits of this cooperation. The exchange of people between the locations is essential and “a success factor for the future,” added Jan Meyer.

The new “number one guy” at the Turku shipyard, Tim Meyer, has expressed eagerness to work even more closely together with the shipbuilders and partners in Turku. In his mind, also, it is vital to encourage an exchange between the yards on all levels.

As Tim Meyer started his job, Meyer Turku succeeded in concluding a key agreement with its customers to stretch the fixed order book to reach 2026. According to the shipyard, this marks an important step to stabilize the entire Finnish cruise ship building cluster until the market situation for new orders recovers again.

COSTA TOSCANA FLOATED OUT

To start of the new – and hopefully better – year, Costa Toscana was floated out at Meyer Turku shipyard on 15 January 2021. The LNG powered, 185,000 GT cruise ship gives proof to the shipyard’s resilience – to keep the operations moving even in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic.

At the time, Tim Meyer commented that the float-out is always “a very special” occasion for the shipbuilders, marking the start of the final stage of shipbuilding.

“In the coming months, she will be finalized at the pier and then tested and commissioned in the autumn for delivery”, Tim Meyer laid down the timeline.

According to Tim Meyer, passengers will greatly enjoy cruising on this beautiful ship as the Covid crisis is finally vanquished: in fact, he believes Costa Toscana will enter service in a world where passengers will once again be able to fully enjoy the wonders of the seas.

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In connection to the float-out, Mario Zanetti, Chief Commercial Officer of Costa Cruises, noted that the cruise line is already looking beyond the pandemic and focusing to complete the transformation of its fleet and operations into a sustainable model. In addition to LNG technology, this means that Costa is developing other innovative solutions, such as shore power and batteries. The ultimate goal is achieving zero emissions.

GREEN TO THE CORE

Costa Toscana is powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and has been designed with a circular economy concept. The use of LNG will eliminate all sulfur dioxide emissions and almost all particular matter emissions (95–100% reduction), while also significantly lowering emissions of nitrogen oxides (direct reduction of 85%) and CO2 (up to 20%).

The ship also features an intelligent energy efficiency system, and 100 % of the ship’s recycling materials (such as plastic, paper, glass and aluminum) will be carried out of the ship and recycled.

Costa Toscana is a sister ship to Costa Smeralda, delivered from Turku in 2019. Adam D. Tihany has curated the impressive design of the interior, as with Costa Smeralda.

MARDI GRAS SAILS AWAY

Just a month earlier, Meyer Turku delivered the 180,000 GT, LNG powered cruise ship Mardi Gras to Carnival Cruise Line. This occasion proved that the yard can, indeed, deliver in a tight spot, despite the Covid-19 raging in the background.

Delivery of Mardi Gras was also an important moral booster, given that the shipyard had to lay off 84 people in November, and 166 people already in August. However, the original estimation for the downsizing need – made in April – was 450 people, meaning that the hit wasn’t quite as bad as feared initially.

Still, even in a toughest storm, one must keep scanning the horizon. One “ray of light” offered last year was the announcing of strategic partnership between Meyer Turku and University of Turku, with the objective of developing and strengthening education and research in engineering.

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RESEARCH ANCHORS INNOVATION

The strategic partnership is an investment for the future: the Finnish marine cluster needs to pursue innovations – driven by strong research – in order to stay truly world-class. With this partnership, Meyer Turku also pursues more effective recruitment through closer student collaboration.

The Meyer family is confident that the Covid crisis, too, will pass – and that the company will meet the future eye-toeye. Last year, as his sons switched executive chairs, Bernard Meyer remarked that if the company takes the right, bold steps – while taking into account change – it will emerge from this crisis stronger than before.

Text by Sami J. Anteroinen
Photos: Meyer Turku

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