The car and passenger ferry Aurora Botnia is nearing the end of the construction phase at Rauma Marine Constructions’ shipyard in Rauma, Finland and will be handed over to Wasaline in mid-July this year. The adjusted date of handover in July allows RMC enough time for the preparatory work done on the ferry’s innovative fuel solution to be completed and to assure a corona-safe working environment at the shipyard.
Last week, Aurora Botnia completed its first sea trial and performance tests. After the successful sea trial, the RMC shipyard has been preparing for the next sea trial that will concentrate on testing the ship’s primary fuel, liquefied natural gas (LNG).
With further preparatory work for the second sea trial required, Aurora Botnia’s delivery schedule has also been adjusted.
“This is a new generation car and passenger ferry that can use LNG, electricity, and in the future, biogas as fuel. Preparatory work for the innovative fuel solution has taken more time than expected, which has resulted in an adjusted delivery date for July,” says Jyrki Heinimaa, CEO, Rauma Marine Constructions.
According to Heinimaa, it is also very important that the final phase of construction work can be handled in a way that is as corona-safe as possible.
“Together with the customer, in March, we already decided that the most important thing is to keep the number of people finishing and commissioning the ship within corona-safe limits. We have succeeded in this, and the coronavirus situation at the shipyard has remained calm. With the July handover schedule, we will be able to continue working to ensure that the ship is handed over without compromising safety.”
The car and passenger ferry Aurora Botnia is nearing the end of the construction phase at Rauma Marine Constructions’ shipyard. The ferry, which will operate on the route between the Finnish city of Vaasa and the Swedish city of Umeå, completed its first sea trial last weekend. The three-day sea trial was conducted with strict safety measures in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. Only essential experts from RMC, Wasaline, and the equipment manufacturers attended the trial.
The sea trial represents a major milestone in the shipbuilding process to both RMC and Wasaline.
“This was definitely a highlight for us, a culmination of several years of effort. We were able to meet the expectations of our work, ensuring that the ship we built can operate as intended,” says Johanna Kaijo, Project Manager for Aurora Botnia at Rauma Marine Constructions.
“The event was important to Wasaline, too, as we had the opportunity to get to know our new ship and its operations in marine conditions for the first time with the project’s key personnel,” says Peter Ståhlberg, Managing Director of Wasaline.
Performance and environmental sustainability under review
The sea trial was conducted to assess the performance of the vessel, which will be the world’s most environmentally friendly passenger car ferry when completed. The ship’s equipment were adjusted to operate as efficiently and economically as possible.
“We adjusted the power plant and tested the ship’s speed, propulsion and steering, among other things, during the sea trials. We ran the ship’s fuel-efficient main engines with different settings and fine-tuned the automation to further improve the vessel’s environmental sustainability. In addition, we were able to ensure in practice that the ship’s design meets the strict criteria of the Clean Design class notation,” Kaijo summarises.
Both RMC and Wasaline consider the first sea trial a success.
“The ship performed well, meeting the requirements set for it. It was a pleasure to witness the successful outcome of years of work,” says Kaijo, with Ståhlberg concurring.
A model example of a new generation car and passenger ferry
Aurora Botnia will be the first car and passenger ferry in the world with a Clean Design class notation. In practice, this means that the ship has been designed and built to significantly exceed the requirements of the MARPOL Convention for the prevention of pollution from ships.
The ship’s main engines operate primarily on low emission liquefied natural gas, which reduces sulphur, nitrogen and carbon dioxide emissions. In the future, the ship can be powered by biogas. In addition to the fuel solution, Aurora Botnia has an electric power system that can be used when operating to and from ports.
“Our goal is to be a pioneer in environmentally sustainable technology in shipbuilding. Our ship for Wasaline is a prime example of what we can achieve by combining years of experience from building dozens of previous ships with the latest innovations. We are grateful to the customer for the opportunity to build such a great vessel,” says Jyrki Heinimaa, CEO and President of Rauma Marine Constructions.
“We are very pleased to leverage RMC’s shipbuilding expertise. We want to be one of the most environmentally sustainable shipping companies, and Aurora Botnia is the most significant concrete step towards this goal,” says Ståhlberg.
Preparations are underway for the handover of Aurora Botnia in Vaasa, Finland. The date of the handover, the maiden voyage and the start of ticket sales will be announced next week.
In the photo Aurora Botnia pictured in the archipelago during the sea trials. Photo: Sammeli Korhonen
Held on Wednesday, 26 May 2021, Rauma Marine Constructions’ seminar on the Finnish maritime industry discussed the future of the industry and the future of seafaring in general. The maritime industry is an important and growing industry in Finland. The annual volume of business is EUR 9 billion, and it employs around 30,000 people.
From a global perspective, the industry is under disruption. Climate change is driving companies to build vessels with smaller environmental impacts, and the demand for low-emission and zero emission solutions in seafaring, as well as other modes of transport, is enormous. As a result of this transition, a large share of ships worldwide must be modernised, which is an opportunity for Finland.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a clear impact on the maritime industry, and especially on the building of cruise ships. The pandemic put a stop to many shipping companies’ operations, which impacted both their orders and their solvency. Although the pandemic has been poison to some maritime industry players, there is still a strong sense of confidence in a bright future.
“The maritime industry is a key industry in Finland. In addition to low-carbon solutions, the market is huge for solutions advancing digitalisation, and Finland must take part in this. General interest towards travelling by ship has been growing for a long time, and there’s still potential for growth. In the long run, travelling by sea will become an increasingly popular choice,” said Elina Andersson, Secretary General at the Finnish Marine Industries.
RMC kept growing dispite the pandemic
RMC’s growth continued in 2020 despite the global pandemic, and the outlook for 2021 is also positive. In February, Rauma shipyard had to suspend production for some days due to a coronavirus outbreak, but the implementation of stricter safety measures and testing enabled a quick return to normal. To prevent a new wave of infections, testing has been continued after resuming production.
The shipyard is now working on four corvettes for the Finnish Defence Forces and two car and passenger ferries: Wasaline’s Aurora Botnia and Tallink’s MyStar. In March 2021, RMC and Tasmanian shipping company TT-Line Company signed an agreement on the construction of two car and passenger ferries.
“At the moment, the shipyard can build two different ships side by side, which has sped up our growth. In the future, our goal is to establish RMC as a global leader in the production of RoPax ferries and to produce prominent government vessels such as the corvettes for the Defence Forces and icebreakers,” said Jyrki Heinimaa, RMC’s CEO and President.
Synthetic, liquefied and gas fuels are the key to zero emissions
The main engines for both Wasaline’s Aurora Botnia and Tallink’s MyStar are equipped with a dual-fuel solution. Their primary fuel is either liquefied natural gas (LNG) or liquefied biogas (LBG). Biogas in particular is thought to have potential for cutting emissions in marine transport, said Martti Larmi, Professor at Aalto University.
“Reaching zero emissions in global seafaring will depend on liquefied and gas fuels. Biogas is one of the more realistic options for the near future, because the technology it requires is already in use.”
As technology advances, the industry may also be able to use a more extensive array of synthetic fuels, such as hydrogen, synthetic methane and methanol, as well as various mixtures of organic and synthetic fuels.
RMC typically builds vessels for shorter distances and local traffic. Wasaline’s Aurora Botnia, for example, will operate between Vaasa, Finland, and Umea, Sweden. The two ferries for TT-Line Company will operate between Tasmania and the Australian continent.
“This will enable the use of locally produced energy in ships. For instance, the biogas fuelling the Aurora Botnia can be made using organic waste from Ostrobothnian farms,” said Mika Laurilehto, Sales Director at RMC.
Picture: The panel section of the seminar organised by RMC discussed alternative future fuels in the shipping industry. Mika Laurilehto, Sales Director at RMC, Matti-Mikael Koskinen, CEO of ESL Shipping, Kenneth Widell, Project Manager at Wärtsilä, and Satu Hänninen, Special adviser at The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom, participated in the panel.
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.