Wasaline, operator of the northernmost year-round ferry line in the world, will take delivery of a modern vessel in spring 2021 to replace their aging workhorse on the route. The new eco-friendly ship will help preserve the Kvarken World Heritage Site where it will operate.
Wasaline’s parent company, NLC Ferry, was founded in 2012, with the municipality of Umeå in Sweden and the city of Vaasa in Finland as owners. The new company’s strategy was to strengthen the focus on passenger traffic between the two towns and to improve the cargo offering on the line. The team from NLC Ferry, together with Christer Schoug of BoCS Consulting and Ari Huttunen of Foreship, initiated a process that culminated in the signing of a newbuilding contract with Rauma Marine Constructions in January 2019.
New thinking to match ambitious goals
The new vessel will be loaded with leading-edge innovation, making the project development and yard procurement process somewhat demanding, reports Peter Ståhlberg, Managing Director of Wasaline. Nonetheless, he has praise for the good cooperation between stakeholders: “Despite this being a complex vessel, we were surprised at how unbureaucratic the bureaucracy of our public owners turned out to be. They were very engaged, and with the same ambitions as we had.”
Design guidelines for the new vessel were indeed ambitious for a small operator, with Wasaline themselves stipulating the main criteria, including dual-fuel engines with LNG as the primary fuel, and compliance with Ice Class 1A Super. The high ice class will enable the ferry to operate without icebreaking assistance, an essential feature in the Gulf of Bothnia with its heavy winter ice conditions. The vessel will also incorporate the “living lab” concept for ice research, done in partnership with the University of Vaasa.