Yesterday, on 14 April 2021, the Prime Minister of Tasmania granted permission for the Tasmanian TT-Line Company to sign a contract with Finnish shipbuilder Rauma Marine Constructions for the construction of two car and passenger ferries. Today, on 15 April, both parties signed the contract. The signing ceremony took place remotely via video conference today on 15 April.
The recent agreement brings RMC’s total number of vessel projects underway at the shipyard to four: two car and passenger ferries for TT-Line Company, car and passenger ferry Aurora Botnia for Finnish shipping company Wasaline and car and passenger ferry MyStar for Estonian shipping company Tallink, as well as four multi-purpose corvettes for the Finnish Defence Forces.
The construction of the car and passenger ferries for TT-Line will begin in Spring 2022 and the vessels will be constructed alongside the multi-purpose corvettes for the Finnish Defence Forces. The first of the vessels will be delivered to TT-Line at the end of 2023 and the second at the end of 2024.
Rauma Marine Constructions and Tasmanian shipping company TT-Line Company have finalised an agreement for the construction of two car and passenger ferries at Rauma shipyard. The employment impact of the project is approximately 3,500 person-years and will increase the number of ships to be built by RMC to eight. The construction of TT-Line’s vessels will begin in spring 2022.
TT-Line had to withdraw from a previous Memorandum of Understanding last summer due to the coronavirus pandemic. Negotiations resumed in March this year, initiated by the Tasmanian government.
Jyrki Heinimaa, CEO of Rauma Marine Constructions, is happy with how the two parties reached the agreement despite a very challenging situation worldwide.
“We are very grateful for the trust shown to us by TT-Line Company and their representatives. This agreement means that our customer believes that we can offer a world-class solution that is perfect for their business, even in challenging operating conditions,” he says.
“We eagerly await these three years of fruitful collaboration with RMC. The vessels will also make extensive use of the expertise of Tasmanian companies,” says Bernard Dwyer, CEO of TT-Line Company.
Construction of the new car and passenger ferries will begin in spring 2022. The first vessel will be delivered to TT-Line in late 2023 and the second one in late 2024. Once completed, the vessels will operate in challenging conditions on the Geelong–Devonport route running between mainland Australia and the island State of Tasmania. The ferries will accommodate 1,800 passengers and will have an approximate gross tonnage of 48,000. The vessels will replace the Spirit of Tasmania I and II, both built in Finland in 1998.
“An excellent continuation of RMC’s growth story and last year’s good result”
The agreement with TT-Line is a positive signal for RMC’s financial outlook for 2021, as it increases the company’s order book to approximately EUR 1.6 billion and increases the number of ship projects at the shipyard to four.
RMC also achieved an excellent financial result last year despite the global coronavirus pandemic. In 2020, the company’s net sales more than quintupled from EUR 38.1 million in the previous year to EUR 220.1 million. Operating profit, on the other hand, increased from EUR 1.9 million in the previous year to EUR 6.7 million.
“The agreement with TT-Line Company is an excellent continuation of RMC’s growth story and last year’s good result. We will continue on our set growth path to build car and passenger ferries in Rauma, which also means stable growth in the shipbuilding industry in Finland. Last year, we strengthened our personnel by almost 50 per cent, meaning our organisation is more than ready for a new 3,500-person-year project,” says Heinimaa.
In addition to TT-Line’s vessels, RMC is currently working on car and passenger ferries for Finnish shipping company Wasaline and Estonian shipping company Tallink, as well as four multi-purpose corvettes for the Finnish Defence Forces. After the challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic at the beginning of the year, production work has resumed to normal capacity. The company shut down production for a while in February after a cluster of coronavirus infections was revealed among workers at the shipyard. Following the detection of coronavirus cases, RMC immediately implemented a more strict safety plan, the functioning of which is being closely monitored. The coronavirus situation has been brought under control thanks to those safety measures.
The car and passenger ferry Aurora Botnia, which will operate the route between the Finnish city of Vaasa and the Swedish city of Umeå, will be delivered to Wasaline in mid-June 2021. Until then Wasa Express continues to operate the route.
The postponement of the delivery, previously scheduled for May, is intended to ensure that the ship’s commissioning phase can be completed safely, taking into account the coronavirus situation.
“The pandemic that has now lasted for over a year, has delayed deliveries of the main equipment, among other things. With the handover taking place in June, we will be able to ensure that the number of employees working on the ship’s finishing and commissioning work can be kept within safe limits,” says Jyrki Heinimaa, CEO of Rauma Marine Constructions.
The timetable for the handover of Aurora Botnia was recently agreed upon in good cooperation between RMC and Wasaline.
“Together with RMC we have agreed on a revised schedule. For us, it is crucial to have the vessel completed as coronavirus-safely as possible. Given the challenging global situation, the new schedule is acceptable to us,” says Peter Ståhlberg, CEO of Wasaline.
Aurora Botnia’s construction work is currently in the final equipping and commissioning phase, culminating in sea and harbour tests before the ship is handed over. When completed, Aurora Botnia will be the most environmentally friendly car and passenger ferry in the world.
Rauma Marine Constructions’ shipyard in Rauma is currently constructing Wasaline’s new car and passenger ferry Aurora Botnia. Instead of lifeboats, the ship safety setup will be based on two marine evacuation systems supplied by Viking Life-Saving Equipment. In case of an emergency, the systems can be deployed in just 90 seconds and save more than 1,100 lives in less than 30 minutes. One of the evacuation systems was successfully tested at the shipyard in Rauma on Wednesday, March 24.
The construction of the car and passenger ferry Aurora Botnia is at a high level of activity at Rauma Marine Constructions’ shipyard in Rauma.
Instead of lifeboats, Aurora Botnia will utilise two evacuation systems as safety equipment, that can be launched from the deck of the ship. The systems are based on an evacuation chute and an automatically inflatable life raft. Once the life raft has been deployed, evacuating passengers can quickly slide to safety through the evacuation chute.
Compared to a lifeboat, a marine evacuation system has many advantages: it takes up little space, it can be deployed in a very short time, it has a high capacity, and it enables quick rescue operations.
“A ship the size of Aurora Botnia would need about six to eight traditional lifeboats. One lifeboat would accommodate a maximum of 150 passengers and its deployment would take about 10 minutes and require the assistance of four people. Only two evacuation systems are needed on board and it only takes about 90 seconds for one to two people to deploy one system. Aurora Botnia is the first Finnish passenger ship to completely replace lifeboats with evacuation systems”, says Peter Ståhlberg, Managing Director of Wasaline.
One of the ship’s evacuation systems was successfully tested on Wednesday, March 24, at RMC’s shipyard in Rauma.
“Testing went well and we detected no technical issues. Some 20 people were rescued very quickly with the use of the system”, says Johanna Kaijo, Project Manager of Aurora Botnia at Rauma Marine Constructions.
Aurora Botnia, which will be completed this spring, will operate a route between the Finnish city of Vaasa and the Swedish city of Umeå. The ship will be the most environmentally friendly car and passenger ferry in the world.
A video from the marine evacuation system test can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/CxPG9dNCdrQ
Production at Rauma Marine Constructions’ shipyard in Rauma has returned to almost full capacity. With the gradual increase in the number of employees, today, Wednesday, March 10, some 900 people were present at the shipyard.
For the first time since the resumption of production, work will also be carried out with normal workforce capacity during the upcoming weekend. Jyrki Heinimaa, CEO & President of Rauma Marine Constructions, is pleased with the current situation.
“The corona situation has been brought under control with stricter safety measures, and thanks to that we have been able to resume production to near normal capacity. After mass testing carried out by the authorities, a small number of those working at the shipyard are still in isolation or quarantine. When they return to work, we will be back to full capacity,” says Heinimaa.
Enhanced safety measures under continuous monitoring
Following the detection of a cluster of coronavirus infections in February, RMC immediately implemented a stricter safety plan, the functioning of which is being closely monitored.
“The most important thing is to ensure that people come to work only in good health and to make it easier to identify those who have been exposed to the coronavirus. We monitor compliance with the instructions and constantly follow the development of the situation. If necessary, we will make changes to the safety plan immediately. The coming weeks will show the full effect of the stricter measures,” Heinimaa says.
According to the stricter safety plan, two negative corona test results are required for those coming to work directly from abroad to the shipyard. In addition, network company employees have been divided into teams concerning accommodation, commuting and work at the shipyard area, allowing potential exposure to the coronavirus to be quickly identified and quarantine measures to be adopted.
Masks need to be worn throughout the shipyard area, and the practice of wearing masks is being monitored daily by security personnel. A person not wearing a mask will be removed from the area for the rest of the day and given a written warning.
If a person coming to work at the shipyard is showing even minor symptoms of the coronavirus infection, he or she will be referred directly to occupational health care. Random testing will be introduced for asymptomatic people coming to work at the shipyard. In addition, employees can also get tested on their own initiative. Random testing will begin next week and continue for the time being.
Production is resuming gradually at Rauma Marine Constructions’ shipyard. Around 500 people had returned to work on Friday, 5 March. Earlier this week, authorities tested workers who were in the final stage of their quarantine at the shipyard’s parking area. Return to work after quarantine has only been possible for those who have been tested negative for COVID-19 and who share accommodation with a group where no new transmissions have been found. Everyone entering the shipyard is identified at the gate. Wearing a mask is compulsory, and those who do not adhere to this rule are sanctioned. Next week, RMC will begin random testing to detect possible infections early.
Production is resuming smoothly at Rauma shipyard. Around 500 people were back to work on Friday, 5 March. A smaller number of people will work at the shipyard on the weekend.
After mass testing conducted by the authorities earlier this week, only those who have been released from quarantine and have been tested negative for COVID-19 have been able to return to work. Jyrki Heinimaa, CEO & President of RMC is happy with the testing.
“Testing has been a success, and cooperation with our network partner companies and the authorities has been smooth. The network partner companies have followed our updated safety plan, dividing their employees into groups who share accommodation and commute together. This has been a significant help in tracking those who have been exposed to the virus and placing people in official quarantine.”
Strict scrutiny at the gate, random testing, sanctions for not wearing a mask
As the number of people working at the shipyard grows, RMC continues to focus on only allowing people in full health to come to work. Everyone entering the shipyard is identified at the gate, and random testing will soon begin. Wearing a mask is compulsory, and those who do not adhere to this rule are sanctioned.
“Our current policy is to stop everyone entering the shipyard at the gate and check if they are allowed to come to work,” says Heinimaa.
Next week, RMC will begin random testing for people arriving at the shipyard. The testing will be conducted on a weekly basis, and in addition to random testing, employees can also get tested on their own initiative. Masks need to be worn throughout the shipyard area, and the practice of wearing masks is being monitored more closely. A person not wearing a mask will be given a written warning and will be removed from the area for the rest of the day.
In accordance with RMC’s updated safety plan, the employees of the network companies have been divided into smaller teams concerning accommodation, commuting, and work at the shipyard. If a person in the shipyard area shows even slight symptoms suggestive of a coronavirus infection, the person and the people belonging to his or her team and others in the work area are immediately directed out of the shipyard area for examination by the health authorities. Employees are also encouraged to get tested in their free time at first sign of symptoms.
Since the beginning of the corona pandemic, RMC has had security measures in place in accordance with official guidelines, which have been tightened due to the outbreak of infections in February. RMC continuously monitors the functioning of its updated safety plan and takes additional measures immediately if necessary.
In co-operation with the authorities, Rauma Marine Constructions has continued testing employees who are being released from quarantine at Rauma Shipyard for new corona infections. Testing ensures that workers returning to work at the shipyard are with certainty in full health.
On Tuesday, March 2, samples were taken from 235 individuals. By Wednesday afternoon, 16 new infections had been found in those tested. In total, 340 out of about 1,000 workers have now contracted corona infections related to the shipyard.
The corona tests enforced by the authorities for those who worked in the shipyard area will continue in cooperation with the shipyard on Thursday, March 4. All exposed and quarantined individuals will be tested before the end of quarantine. Only healthy employees are allowed to return to work.
RMC is actively monitoring the situation. The shipyard currently has enhanced security measures in place, which are followed by all operators in the area.
“It is clear that even more infections outside the shipyard may occur among network company employees. In line with our updated security plan, our network companies have now divided their employees into teams, making it significantly easier to identify and quarantine those exposed. We have also introduced stricter safety arrangements than those recommended by the government, such as requiring negative test results from those returning to work. In addition, we are currently planning to conduct random tests for those entering the shipyard area. This set of different measures is a great example of excellent cooperation between RMC, network companies, the City of Rauma and the health authorities”, says Jyrki Heinimaa, CEO of RMC.
Rauma Marine Constructions will continue to restart production in phases at Rauma shipyard this week. Authorities have placed around 800 shipyard production workers in quarantine due to possible exposure to the coronavirus. From Monday to Wednesday, RMC and health authorities are organising mass testing for RMC and network company employees, who are in the final stage of their quarantine. The testing will be done at the parking area outside the shipyard. After quarantine, you can only enter the shipyard with a negative test result and no exposure. This new policy is stricter than official instructions.
Production will be restarted at Rauma Marine Constructions’ shipyard this week. Production was run down on Friday, 19 February, after a cluster of coronavirus infections was detected among people working at the shipyard. Authorities tested everyone working at the shipyard and placed those with COVID-19 in isolation and those who had been exposed in quarantine.
This week, employees who are in the final stage of their quarantine will be tested again. RMC will organise a testing facility at the parking area outside the Rauma shipyard where authorities will conduct the testing from Monday to Wednesday. Safety measures will be strict.
“We want to help health authorities to avoid overburdening testing facilities, so we will offer the parking area outside the shipyard for mass testing. The people to be tested will arrive in cars, in predetermined groups that have been given time slots. They will wait for their turn in the car and can only leave the car when permission is given. After the test, each person will return to their accommodation in the same car group and wait for results there,” explains Jyrki Heinimaa, CEO & President of Rauma Marine Constructions.
Heinimaa emphasises that the network companies have been excellent partners for RMC in the planning and implementation of testing arrangements and that the cooperation has run smoothly.
Return to work is only possible in full health
Mass testing has revealed new cases where the transmission has occurred in quarantine, outside the shipyard. According to Heinimaa, new infections were to be expected, and health authorities have stated that more cases are likely to be found. Additional testing will help ensure that only those in full health return to work.
“Previously, self-quarantine as defined by official instructions was considered a sufficient measure before returning to work. Now, people who have been placed in official quarantine will be tested again to make sure that only those who are in full health will be released from quarantine and can return to work. People who test positive will be isolated, and their teammates will be placed in a new quarantine,” Heinimaa says.
In addition to the testing conducted by health authorities, RMC will begin to measure the body temperature of employees arriving to the shipyard for testing or work, using a thermal imaging camera. According to Heinimaa, measuring body temperature is part of the company’s new, stricter safety plan.
Production will be restarted in phases at the shipyard this week, and RMC has given its network partner companies strict safety instructions. For example, employees will arrive at work and take breaks in turns. Moreover, employees will be divided into separate teams that will share accommodation and work, take breaks and commute together. Everyone entering the shipyard must wear a mask, and mask wearing will be enforced.