Vard seals cutting edge electric hybrid shipbuilding contract

Specialized vessels shipbuilder Vard Holdings is riding on the cutting edge of new technology with the sealing of a contract for the design and construction of what is believed to be the world’s first electric hybrid cruise icebreaker with dual fuel propulsion, featuring high-capacity batteries and LNG storage on board.

The company said in a stock market announcement that the NOK2.7bn ($322.5m) contract is for the design and construction of a luxury polar expedition cruise vessel for Ponant, a French cruise company that specializes in Polar cruises.

The Polar Class 2 electric hybrid vessel with LNG propulsion is developed by Ponant, Stirling Design International, Aker Arctic and Vard and is specially designed for expedition travel to ecologically sensitive polar destinations such as the true geographic North Pole (90 degrees North Latitude), the Weddell Sea, the Ross Sea and Peter I Island.

This is a potential future trend, ABB China head of marine and ports Alf Kaare Aadnanes had separately told Seatrade Maritime News. He said ABB has been working with cruise companies on integrated fuel cell packages for similar electric hybrid projects. “For cruise vessels the clean future might well be the fuel cell technology, especially for exploration vessels and those that need to meet higher environmental standards” he noted.

“This is a really exciting project for us, and we look forward to building the Ponant icebreaker for polar expedition voyages. Vard has a deep experience in icebreaking technology; over generations we have built several highly advanced vessels developed for operations in polar areas.  It is a pleasure to continue the excellent cooperation we have with Ponant, Stirling Design International and Aker Arctic,” said Vard ceo and ed Roy Reite.

The hull will be built at Vard Tulcea in Romania. Delivery is scheduled from Vard Søviknes in Norway, in the second quarter of 2021.  

Posted 19 December 2017

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Vincent Wee

Asia Editor, Seatrade Maritime News

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