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Explorer Edge

Helsinki shipyard is building a trio of adventurous cruise ships

article picture: Explorer Edge

Helsinki Shipyard is emerging from the Covid-19 crisis with plenty of wind on her sails. The production of the third vessel of the luxury expedition cruise ships ordered from the shipyard began on 10 June, 2021 – and it promises to be something real special. The 125-metre and 12,000 gross ton ship is especially designed to explore the most interesting and inaccessible places on Earth.

Under the project code NB 518, the Helsinki shipyard is working on a new generation of expedition cruise vessels that is designed for the global cruise market, with an emphasis on high-latitude cruises.

NB 518 is the third vessel to be delivered to Swan Hellenic. The vessel will be delivered to the customer at the end of 2022. According to the shipyard, NB 518 is bigger than its sisters and designed to sail to all continents.

The shipyard reports that project NB 518 has progressed as expected, and the cutting of steel parts has commenced as the summer really kicks in.

Esko Karvonen, CEO of Helsinki Shipyard, points out that the order for this third ship was one of the few cruise ship orders placed in the pandemic crisis during 2020.

“Therefore, it’s significant for all of us. The order reflects our customers’ solid trust in our expertise and abilities and the good spirit of our cooperation,” says Karvonen.

Eye on Quality

Unlike the previous two ships in the series, the steel blocks of ship are manufactured at CRIST shipyard in Poland. The blocks are transported to Helsinki by sea. Production work with blocks in Helsinki will start in autumn, and the ship’s hull assembly will begin with a keel laying at the end of the year.

Ville Korpela, project manager of NB 518 and the yard’s new sales director, says that the start of production is a milestone for the shipyard and the customer, reflecting a partnership that works well.

“We will continue on this solid basis, building a high-quality vessel for the customer,” Korpela says.

The newbuilding 518 has a 4.6 MW diesel-electric hybrid machine with exhaust cleaning, max. 3 MW battery capacity and PC6 ice class hull.

The ship offers spacious 5-star accommodation for 192 guests in 96 cabins and suites, most of them with large balconies. The ship will be operated by a crew of 140 to provide the highest level of personal service.

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Sister ships well under way

The first vessel of the series, NB 516, will be delivered during this year and the second one, NB 517, will be handed over to the customer in the first months of 2022. In fact, the second vessel had its keel laying ceremony in February, in accordance with the seafaring traditions and yet taking into account the current restrictions due to COVID-19.

According to the shipyard, the two first 113-meter vessels will carry 152 passengers and 120 crew members after their delivery. The vessels will feature a 4,6, MW diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system with selective catalytic reduction and a 3-megawatt max. battery package. Gross tonnage of the vessels is 10,500 tons, and they have PC5 ice-strengthened hull.

Upon the time of the keel laying ceremony, Project Manager Jonas Packalén remarked that newbuildings NB 516 and NB 517 are designed for extreme weather conditions, from polar areas where they can meet quite heavy ice conditions to exotic tropical regions.

“Naturally, they are designed to respect the sensitive ecosystems of the regions where they’re going to sail”, added Packalén.

Comeback King

Located in the capital of Finland, the Helsinki Shipyard specializes in shipbuilding technology and building of special vessels for demanding conditions and routes. The shipyard has a long tradition in designing and building of icebreakers and other high ice-class vessels for operations in cold environment – and yet, the new business entity, Helsinki Shipyard Oy, just celebrated her second birthday on 20 May, 2021.

The first two years have been busy indeed: Very soon after getting its new ownership, the shipyard received its first order of two expedition cruise ships and in the Autumn of 2020 one more ship order was inked.

Industry veteran Carl-Gustaf Rotkirch was appointed as the first CEO of the new shipyard company, and he wasted no time in piloting the shipyard to its new course. Within the last two years, the shipyard has achieved its short-term targets of building the organization, re-starting the operations and stabilizing its financial situation.

In February 2021, Rotkirch moved to the position of a board member with responsibility for overlooking the development and maintaining of the stakeholder relations. Esko Karvonen, the former Helsinki Shipyard COO, was appointed new CEO of the shipyard from February 1.

The shipyard has put a lot of effort into its new strategy to be a competitive and wanted partner for its customers and other stakeholders. The Helsinki operations are now focusing on streamlining the processes, increasing productivity and developing smart logistics solutions.

Text by: Sami J. Anteroinen

Photos by: Helsinki Shipyard Oy

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