Mika Laurilehto, acting CEO of Rauma Marine Constructions, presented RMC’s solutions for zero-emission shipping, in both the Baltic Sea and on a larger scale, to Finnish and Swedish industry representatives on 18 May 2022. Solutions based on cross-sector cooperation, local renewable fuels and an understanding of the geographical and business-related landscape, represent a few notable examples of RMC’s core competences.
Zero-emission shipping requires strong cooperation and full-scale utilisation of the latest environmentally friendly solutions from different maritime industries. The solutions must also take into account the year-round Nordic conditions of the Baltic Sea, in particular.
“The issue is not in fact only about shipping; the approach should be extended to entire logistics ecosystems. This includes combining sustainable shipping to carbon-neutral road transport, optimising logistics chains in terms of energy consumption, and using local renewable fuels,” says Mika Laurilehto, acting CEO of RMC.
Laurilehto spoke about the topic to Finnish and Swedish industry representatives at a Business Roundtable event on 18 May 2022, which was held in connection with the state visit to Sweden of Sauli Niinistö, President of the Republic of Finland. Laurilehto was part of the business delegation consisting of representatives from the maritime industry sector.
Local renewable fuels enable zero-emission transport chains
The goal for zero-emission maritime transport by the year 2050 was published at the COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2021. In addition, individual fossil-free-operated shipping routes, ‘green corridors’, were established as the near-future goal of the maritime transport industry.
According to Laurilehto, RMC’s idea of local renewable fuels are considered an optimal solution in terms of helping to implement the green transition, for example, along the shipping routes of the Baltic Sea. Fuels based on locally manufactured renewable energy do not require extensive transportation; in the best-case scenario, the ships can be fuelled in the direct vicinity of the production plant itself. This will lower the emissions throughout the entire value chain.
“When it comes to both fuels and ship-building skills, we strongly believe in self-sufficiency. Finland has the opportunity to be the frontrunner in the green transition of maritime transport. At RMC, we want to be part of building future solutions, but it is important to also look at the big picture. It is not enough to only have carbon-neutral maritime transport; the entire logistics chain from land to sea and back must be emissions-free,” states Laurilehto.
Year-round shipping must take into account the conditions of the Baltic Sea
The situation concerning shipping in Finland and Sweden is unique when compared to other countries, because the conditions in the Baltic Sea require the ships to operate even during winter. Both Finland and Sweden are planning to replace their current icebreakers due to the fact that the ships are approaching the end of their life cycle.
“The situation with the icebreakers is presently more acute in Sweden than in Finland. The icebreakers must also aim for zero emissions, which was not considered relevant when the now aging vessels were built. This will make the project more challenging, since the icebreakers require considerable power and energy to be able to open up a lane for increasingly larger merchant vessels,” Laurilehto explains.
The decision about the acquisition of icebreakers has not yet been made in either of the two countries, but Sweden has already initially inquired about RMC’s interest in the proposed project. Rauma already has extensive experience of arctic seafare, with the shipyard having built the multipurpose icebreakers Fennica, Nordica, and Botnica, which are still in use. Furthermore, RMC has also been responsible for the upkeep of other Finnish multipurpose icebreakers.
RMC is currently finishing the new car and passenger ferry MyStar for Tallink. The company is also working on four multipurpose corvettes for the Finnish Defence Forces and two next-generation RoPax car and passenger ferries for Tasmanian TT-Line.
The Board of Rauma Marine Constructions has appointed Mika Heiskanen, M.Sc., as the company’s new CEO and President. The new CEO will take up the position after the summer. Mr Heiskanen has an extensive track record in the shipbuilding industry, including leadership positions at Meyer Turku and Royal Caribbean Cruises’ new construction programme in Finland and Germany.
Founded in 2014, Rauma Marine Constructions has grown quickly and become a major Finnish-owned shipbuilding company with an order book of over EUR 1 billion. The company has made changes to its leadership during the spring. Mika Heiskanen (38), who has now been appointed as CEO and President of RMC, will take up his new position after the summer. Until then, the company will be led by the acting CEO Mika Laurilehto.
Mr Heiskanen has an extensive track record in shipbuilding. Most recently, he was responsible for production as an Executive Board Member at Meyer Turku Oy in Turku, Finland. From 2016 to 2020, Heiskanen led the company’s hull production, design and engineering. Prior to Meyer Turku, Heiskanen worked in an international role at cruise ship giant Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, where he was responsible for newbuilding projects in Papenburg, Germany. Heiskanen is a graduate of Aalto University, where he studied naval architecture and industrial engineering. He started his career at STX Finland as a sales project engineer and as the main designer of TUI’s cruiser prototype.
Heiskanen has also led the Boards of two network companies, Shipbuilding Completion Oy and Technology Design and Engineering Eng’Nd Oy.
RMC operates on a network model. The company has more than 200 employees leading the cooperation with dozens of partner companies, who are responsible for the execution of projects. Mikko Niini, Chairman of RMC’s Board of Directors, finds Heiskanen a perfect fit for the role because of his experience in international projects and leading networked operations.
“Mika Heiskanen has the ability to get RMC back on track towards profitable shipbuilding. He has a strong background in leading networked operations and a clear vision of a customer-oriented operating model in an international market. These support RMC’s strategy in a brilliant way,” Niini says.
RMC is currently finishing Estonian shipping company Tallink’s new car and passenger ferry MyStar and building two fast RoPax vessels for Spirit of Tasmania, which will operate the route between mainland Australia and Tasmania. In addition, the production of new combat vessels for the Finnish Defence Forces is about to start.
“I’m proud to become part of RMC’s unique growth story. Together with its highly skilled professional personnel and network of partner companies, RMC can design and produce the most modern, environmentally friendly vessels that create value for RMC’s customers. Close-knit cooperation between competent shipyards and other companies in the industry is the foundation for the competitiveness and future of the Finnish maritime industry. It’s what creates our ability to become the future trailblazer of the industry internationally,” Heiskanen says.
RMC is the only fully Finnish-owned company in its size category, which means decisions will be made and jobs kept in Finland. RMC is specialised in the development, construction and maintenance of icebreakers, car and passenger ferries and defence and government vessels. The company is highly competent in arctic shipbuilding, which forms the basis of Finnish maritime expertise and competitiveness.
RMC was established in 2014, when STX Finland ceased operations in Rauma. The company has multiplied its turnover in recent years and its order book is now more than EUR 1 billion. The current CEO, Jyrki Heinimaa, PhD, has managed RMC since 2017. Under Heinimaa’s leadership, RMC has grown from a start-up to a world-class shipbuilding company, with strong expertise in both car and passenger ferries as well as government vessels. Now, says Heinimaa, it is time to pass on the leadership role.
“We have come a huge distance in a very short time. When I became CEO in 2017, our goal was to grow RMC into a significant competitor to other shipyards around the world, and we have succeeded in this. For example, in 2020, the company’s growth rate was over 400 per cent. When I began this journey, I remember thinking that five years would be a suitable time to spend at the helm of the same ship so to speak, and now, five years later, the time has come to head towards new challenges. I am very grateful to RMC, all my colleagues, network partners and customers for the opportunity to be involved in bringing back world-class car and passenger ferry construction and know-how to Rauma. However, now is the right time to step back and take part in strengthening the maritime industry network in other capacities,” says Heinimaa.
RMC’s Board of Directors has appointed Mika Laurilehto, M.Sc. (Eng.), as interim CEO. Laurilehto, who is also responsible for planning, joined RMC in 2020. Prior to that, he held management positions at MV Werften in Germany and as CEO of Deltamarin Oy in Finland from 2005–2017.
Simultaneously, the management of the Squadron 2020 project for the Finnish Navy has been renewed. Timo Suistio, RMC’s Executive Vice President, will retire in the autumn of 2022. Ret. Captain Timo Ståhlhammar has been appointed as the new Project Manager for the Squadron 2020 project. Ståhlhammar has worked at RMC since 2016 as the Project Manager for the combat systems utilised in the Squadron 2020 project. Prior to joining RMC, Stålhammar was Finland’s Defence Attaché in the United States. Until his retirement, Suistio will continue to support the Squadron 2020 project and sales projects as a Senior Advisor.
Domestic ownership and strong expertise in Arctic shipbuilding
RMC is the only wholly domestically-owned shipbuilding company in its class size, which enables both decision-making and employment to remain in Finland. RMC specialises in the development, construction and maintenance of icebreakers, car and passenger ferries, and vessels required by military and government agencies. The company also has industry-leading expertise in Arctic shipbuilding, on which the expertise and competitiveness of the Finnish maritime industry rely heavily on.
RMC’s strategy is based on a networked operating model. The company employs more than 200 shipbuilding experts who head collaborations with dozens of partner companies responsible for project implementation.
Currently under construction at RMC is a new car and passenger ferry for Estonian shipping company Tallink. In addition, the construction of two car and passenger ferries ordered by Spirit of Tasmania for the route between Australia and Tasmania recently began at Rauma Shipyard.
The company is also starting construction work on the corvettes for the Finnish Navy’s Squadron 2020 project. To this end, a EUR 26 million multi-purpose dock hall is currently being built at Rauma Shipyard, enabling the ships to be both built indoors and separate from other ships. The hall also represents a significant investment in terms of future projects.
“Now is a good time to look at the new phase of the company with fresh eyes. RMC has claimed its place as a leading Finnish shipyard among the world’s shipyards. We would like to thank Jyrki Heinimaa for his significant contribution to growing RMC. Thanks to him, the order book extends to the second half of the decade,” states Mikko Niini, Chairman of the Board of RMC.
The start of production of a passenger and vehicle ferry was celebrated today at Rauma shipyard. The construction of the Spirit of Tasmania IV, set to operate between mainland Australia and Tasmania, began with a traditional steel cutting ceremony. Even though the future route and the shipyard responsible for the construction are located on the opposite sides of the globe, trust and cooperation have been built over a long period of time.
“Although the actual construction of the first ferry started today, RMC and Spirit of Tasmania already have a long history. The pandemic, among other things, disrupted our plans, but the agreement for the vessels was re-signed in 2021. We are particularly glad that our joint journey, which has lasted more than a decade, finally reached this important milestone. Therefore, I would like to thank Spirit of Tasmania for trusting our local expertise in shipbuilding,” says Jyrki Heinimaa, CEO and president of RMC.
The twin Spirit of Tasmania vessels will be constructed in Rauma. When finished, they will be the southernmost vessels to operate with LNG. In addition, the vessels will have a dual fuel solution, which will allow them to use other, alternative fuels, if needed.
Spirit of Tasmania (TT-Line Company), the purchaser of the vessels, is a significant player in maritime transport between mainland Australia and Tasmania. Currently, the Spirit of Tasmania-named vessels carry around 450,000 passengers each year. The new vessels will operate an extremely challenging route across the Bass Strait between Geelong, Victoria, and Devonport, Tasmania. The ferries have been specially designed to undertake this specific route.
The vessels will hold 1,800 passengers each and their gross tonnage will be approximately 48,000 metric tons. The new vessels will replace similarly Finnish-built sister ships from the 1990s. The first vessel will be finished in late 2023 and the second in late 2024.
Bernard Dwyer, CEO and Managing Director of Spirit of Tasmania says “This is a significant moment for Tasmania and for the Tasmanian economy. When completed, the vessel’s arrival in late 2023 will mark the start of a new era for passenger travel and freight transport across Bass Strait,” he said.
“While the new ships will be a similar design to the current Spirit of Tasmania vessels, they will feature substantially larger capacity for passengers, passenger vehicles and freight.”
For the city of Rauma and the surrounding region, the design and construction of the vessels will create a total of around 3,500 person-years’ worth of employment. The vessels are being built while the shipyard also finalises a new car and passenger ferry for Tallink and builds new multipurpose corvettes for the Finnish Defence Forces’ Squadron 2020 project.
Rauma Marine Constructions is currently preparing to build ships for the Squadron 2020 project. The cornerstone for the new multipurpose construction hall, where the ships for the Finnish Defence Forces will be built, was laid 15 February at Rauma shipyard. The construction work for the hall was already started in 2021. The work has progressed quickly and on schedule. The hall will play an integral role in the construction of four multipurpose corvettes, which will be essential for Finnish maritime defence.
“The hall will guarantee our ability to build the vessels entirely indoors, where they will be protected from the eyes of outsiders. This project is extremely important for both the shipyard and Finland, and we want to ensure the security of construction work in every way possible. Nearly all big Finnish warships have been built in Rauma, so it is truly wonderful to continue this legacy with the Squadron 2020 project”, said CEO and President Jyrki Heinimaa.
Cooperation with the city is crucial
The hall is being built by a real estate company jointly owned by the City of Rauma and RMC. The city holds an 80 per cent share of the company. RMC will be a long-time tenant of the hall. The main contractor in the project is SRV.
Once finished, the hall will be 186 metres long, 44 metres wide and 32 metres tall. With a total volume of 226,000 cubic metres, the hall will be one of the biggest industrial buildings in Rauma. In total, the hall will cost around EUR 26 million.
“By participating in the construction project, the City of Rauma is demonstrating long-term commitment to the development of the shipyard. The city wants to set an example and thereby encourage new investments in the shipyard and the capacity development of the operators in the shipyard. The maritime industry and especially RMC’s shipbuilding are an important part of the local identity. Our participation will also result in a special kind of pride for every vessel completed at the shipyard”, said Mayor of Rauma Esko Poikela.
“We are extremely happy that our successful collaboration with the City of Rauma enables the construction of the hall and its long-term usage by RMC. The hall will guarantee employment for Rauma and the shipyard for years to come. Building the Squadron 2020 vessels alone will have an employment impact of 3,600 person-years in total, and even after this project, the hall will enable the construction of various governmental and other notable vessels at Rauma”, Jyrki Heinimaa states.
“It is a pleasure to be part of a project that will significantly advance Finnish shipbuilding. The project will take into account the halls’ entire lifecycle, energy efficiency and future operational needs as well as the user requirements and overall economic factors. Close cooperation will guarantee a successful outcome”, said Lari Mallius, Area Director at SRV.
A billion-euro order book will guarantee investments into the future
An entirely Finnish-owned company, RMC has succeeded at growing its order book significantly in the past few years and is now past a billion euros. Rauma shipyard has a long history of building governmental vessels. However, in recent years the shipyard has also hosted the building of several commercial ships with pioneering technology, such as the internationally awarded car and passenger ferry that started operating between Vaasa, Finland, and Umeå, Sweden, last autumn.
RMC is continuously developing its operations and making further investments into the shipyard. Besides the new hall, RMC has made significant investments for example into steel production for the Squadron 2020 project. Steelwork for the prototype section of the vessels is already underway. The shipyard is facing a very busy spring as the finishing of Tallink’s new car and passenger ferry is also underway. Moreover, the production of two vessels for Tasmanian TT-Line will start in March.
Mika Laurilehto, CSO, Rauma Marine Constructions
The marine industries are facing an enormous challenge: How do companies fulfil the tightening standards of emission regulations while responding to freight forwarders´ and customers’ increasing environmental awareness? And how do they do all this profitably? These are burning questions especially for shipping companies and therefore also for us shipbuilders.
Solutions for cutting emissions from marine transport are already available. This was demonstrated by our talent team of five that won the Intelligence Hunt competition organised by SeaFocus International. The finals were held at the end of January.
The talent team, consisting of students, were assigned by RMC to decarbonise shortsea shipping and came up with a concrete solution for the benefit of everyone in the marine industry.
An emission-free vessel would pay off in less than nine years
In their study, the team looked into the standards set by regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions that shipping companies will have to meet, and developed a feasible solution for meeting them. The goal was to create an integrated solution that would cover the vessel, the route, the fuel and the power source.
The talent team presented a solution where a vessel would operate between Lake Saimaa, Finland, and St Petersburg, Russia, transporting both passengers and cargo. There is demand for new logistic solutions along the route and growth potential as timber trade between Finland and Russia increases.
The vessel would make use of technology that’s already available, and it would be practically emission-free: two electric propulsion motors would be powered by five hydrogen fuel cells or, alternatively, by batteries. In addition, the vessel would have optimised transportation volumes so that more cargo and passengers could be transported while consuming less energy.
According to the team’s calculations, the vessel would pay off in less than nine years.
The greatest challenge in decarbonisation is not the technology
The jury, which consisted of distinguished international experts in marine industries, found the team’s work impressive – for good reason. The team’s study showed that shipping companies can indeed already fulfil the requirements of emission regulations profitably.
The central strength of the talent team’s solution is that it can be scaled for other routes.
In discussions around alternative, carbon neutral fuels, shipping companies tend to point out that the distribution network is insufficient. From energy companies’ point of view, low demand is a problem. Our talent team found a way to balance the equation with short, regular routes and vessels operating in coastal waters: they create demand and support the profitability of investments into the production of energy, favouring local players no matter where in the world they are operating.
The fuel solution alone will not make the solution profitable, because the vessel presented by the team can’t be multiplied as such. Instead, each vessel must be tailored in the design and construction phases to be optimal for the route it will operate. To achieve this, top experts in shipbuilding are needed. They can integrate various innovative solutions, developed by their partners, and enable their use in practice.
The talent team presented more than extravagant visions. They offered a realistic, integrated solution that can be implemented immediately. However, no single player can do it alone.
We can all learn something from our international talent team’s achievement: The technology for decarbonising marine transport already exists. What we need now is collaboration between companies and the public sector, and across industries and geographic borders.
Mika Laurilehto, CSO, Rauma Marine Constructions
Most of Finnish and Swedish icebreakers are aging, and their useful life is coming to an end. There are too few icebreakers, the vessels are too small and their emissions too high. Therefore, the two countries are planning for a joint procurement of next-generation icebreakers. Although the decisions to build them is yet to be made, the Swedish Maritime Administration has already made preliminary inquiries about whether RMC would be interested in building the vessels.
When it comes to import and export, Finland is like an island. Sea lanes are vital to the country. In 2020, more than 83 per cent of imported and exported goods were transported by sea. Our most important export country is Sweden, our western neighbour, and out of the 6.3 million tonnes of goods exported there, 5.2 million was transported by ship. It is clear that the sea lanes in the Baltic Sea area must stay open throughout the coldest months of the year. The icebreakers now in use will not be able to handle the task in the future.
The next generation of icebreakers must respond to great expectations when it comes to performance and eco-friendliness. Their emissions must be 70 per cent lower than those of their predecessors in the Urho and Atle class, they must be able to break a 32-metre-wide channel in the ice, endure tough conditions that are becoming even more severe, and operate for up to 50 years.
To be able to build such icebreakers, a shipyard must have know-how in arctic shipbuilding and the ability to implement new technology and innovations in a way that increases the icebreaking capabilities of the vessels while cutting emissions to a fraction. Moreover, previous experience from public-sector procurements plays an important role: knowing the process and necessary preparations makes collaboration between the buyer and builder smoother.
Arctic vessels and low-emission technology are RMC’s core competencies
RMC’s vessels are not produced in series. They are novel and technically advanced, state-of-the-art products tailored to the buyer’s needs. When it comes to technology development projects and future innovations, RMC works in close cooperation with universities, equipment suppliers and other partners.
This kind of competence will be key in building the next generation of icebreakers.
RMC has plenty of experience in building vessels for challenging weather conditions. The company has been operating the Rauma shipyard from 2014, and in these seven years, it has, for example, upgraded the operative capabilities of icebreaker Otso, done a general overhaul and modernisation of research vessel Aranda, and built two car and passenger ferries: Hammershus, completed in 2018, and Aurora Botnia, completed in 2021. The strong RMC order book shows that the industry trusts RMC’s competence. The shipyard is currently building a new car and passenger ferry for Tallink as well as designing two car and passenger ferries for an operator in Tasmania and four multipurpose corvettes for the Finnish Navy. The corvettes must also be able to perform in challenging weather, sea and ice conditions around the year.
A great portion of the shipyard’s personnel have an impressive track record from working at RMC’s predecessors at the Rauma shipyard. Various companies operated the shipyard from 1992 to 2014, and their commercial vessel projects total more than 30. In addition, nearly all of the Finnish government’s multipurpose icebreakers, larger patrol and naval vessels have been built and serviced at the Rauma shipyard.
The driving power must be future-proof
The long lifespan of new icebreakers poses a significant challenge to shipbuilding. Questions of driving power and emissions will change in fifty years, and they will be difficult to anticipate. However, decisions must be made now so current emission reduction goals can be achieved.
Bio-based fuels and battery technology are the solutions considered to have the most potential for the near future. These are also used in Aurora Botnia, which the Rauma shipyard completed recently: in addition to electricity and liquefied natural gas (LNG), it can use locally produced biogas (LBG) or synthetic methane (SNG), which can be produced with renewable energy. Aurora Botnia is the most environmentally friendly vessel in its category, and its emissions have been calculated to be 50 per cent lower than those of its predecessor, built in 1981.
Although the fuel of the future is not yet set in stone, it is clear that vessels operating shorter distances and in coastal waters will use fuels that are locally produced. Whether they are ferries for Tasmanian waters or icebreakers for arctic conditions, next-generation vessels will create local demand, which will yield returns for investments in energy production and create a local cash flow in the area. At the same time, the need to transport fossil energy will decrease significantly.
The icebreaker project has potential for developing cutting-edge technology
Public procurements have always been spearheads for industrial development and success in Finland and Sweden. Likewise, the procurement of new icebreakers offers an opportunity to develop new technologies and the maritime industry cluster.
A joint project between Finland and Sweden would restore the role of the two countries’ maritime clusters as global leaders in arctic expertise. Moreover, it would safeguard national security of supply in terms of export and import by sea. All necessary competence and technology can be found in the Nordics.
Nonetheless, before the vessels can be built, the Finnish and Swedish governments must work together and make creative decisions to ensure that the project can be carried out in a cost-effective way while promoting environmentally sustainable seafaring.
The cluster of coronavirus cases detected mid-September at Rauma Marine Constructions’ (RMC) shipyard in Rauma has been brought under control. The cluster was detected early on during the company’s own random testing, allowing the containment of the situation in under a month. The Regional State Administrative Agency (AVI) has ordered the City of Rauma to conduct mandatory health inspections at the shipyard, the practical implications of which will be clarified in the near future.
The first cases of the September infection cluster at Rauma shipyard were detected through RMC’s own random testing of asymptomatic personnel on 17 September. In cooperation with the infectious disease authorities, RMC immediately extended random testing to those who had been working with the infected parties. Due to the division of the workforce into smaller teams, as outlined in the company’s updated safety plan, these individuals were quickly located.
During the following days, additional cases were reported during testing conducted by RMC, resulting in RMC and the health authorities of the City of Rauma deciding to implement extended additional testing to everyone working on the ship currently under construction. Nearly 1,000 tests were conducted, and part of the personnel were tested twice or more. Fully vaccinated individuals were also tested.
The number of cases at the shipyard started to decline last week, after which RMC has continued the random testing already implemented last spring. The situation has remained calm: no new cases have been reported among some hundred random tests conducted this ongoing week.
During the past week, four new cases have been detected in individuals placed in quarantine. Since 17 September, a total of 217 infections have been reported.
The practical implications of the Regional State Administrative Agency’s order to be clarified in the upcoming days
The Regional State Administrative Agencies have in the past weeks ordered mandatory health inspections for several shipyards. On 13 October, the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southwestern Finland obligated the City of Rauma to conduct mandatory health inspections concerning RMC, the company’s subsidiaries, and subcontractors.
According to AVI, correct measures have already been taken at the Rauma shipyard that have positively impacted the current situation. According to the Regional State Administrative Agency the order is intended to support the positive development.
Ville Laaksonen, Chief Operating Officer at Rauma Marine Constructions, considers the decision from the past week legitimate in the current situation.
”During the past weeks, the coronavirus situation has escalated in several countries, as well as at Finland’s major shipyards. This means that there is a clear need for joint policies. However, we are also pleased that the Regional State Administrative Agency has taken notice of the extensive coronavirus safety measures RMC has already implemented since spring. The measures allowed the coronavirus situation to remain calm for months before this autumn’s cases.”
According to Laaksonen, the exact, practical implications of the order by the Regional State Administrative Agency have not been fully clarified, but the guidelines have been set.
“The Regional State Administrative Agency has issued the order to the City of Rauma, meaning we will continue to advance the matter in close cooperation with them and the health authorities. Among other things, there are plans to further expand testing and require new employees to have received a full series of vaccinations. We will also continue to organise vaccination possibilities at a low-threshold at the shipyard together with the City of Rauma.”