Spanish shipping company Baleària, recognised for its pioneering work in the application of Liquefied Natural Gas in maritime transport, adds a new milestone with the construction of Europe’s first fast ferry for passengers and cargo powered by dual-fuel LNG engines. The fast ferry is being built in the Astilleros Armon shipyard in Gijón, on Spain’s northwest coast.
Baleària president Adolfo Utor announced the project at the inaugural conference of the 57th Congress of Naval Engineering and Maritime Industry, on October 24th.
With a length of 125 meters and beam of 28 meters, the new catamaran will have capacity for 1,200 passengers and 500 passenger cars (or alternatively 500 linear meters of trucks and 250 cars), which also makes it the world’s longest and highest-capacity fast ferry, as explained by Utor.
The vessel will be powered by four dual-fuel Wartsilä LNG/GO engines of 8800 kW each, which will allow it to reach a service speed of 35 knots and a maximum speed of more than 40 knots. In addition, it will have two tanks to store liquefied natural gas (LNG) with a range of 400 nautical miles. The bow has been specially designed combining improvements in behaviour derived from the vertical prows in the side hulls with the incorporation of wave piercing. The ship’s design complies with the most stringent environmental and energy efficiency standards.
Baleària will invest EUR 90 million (USD 102.3 million) in the construction of this fast ferry, for which the first aluminium cutting is scheduled to start next December. The ferry will enter into service in the summer of 2020.
Pioneers in natural gas
“Baleària’s strategic commitment to LNG responds to criteria of social responsibility and economic profitability.The axiom, less pollution, greater economic profitability, works fully with this fuel,” said Baleària president Adolfo Utor, who also emphasized at the conference the innovative zeal of the shipping company.
Baleària is also finalizing the construction of the first two smart ships with LNG engines that will sail in the Mediterranean. It is planned that the Hypatia of Alexandria will start operating at the beginning of next year and the Marie Curie a few months later. In addition, this autumn the first of a total of six vessels in the fleet will be remotorized so that they can navigate propelled by liquefied natural gas. The European Union has recently described as excellent this project, which will be carried out over the next two years, and has awarded Baleària a grant of about 12 million euros, on a total investment of 72 million euros.
Baleària plans to have, in the next three years, at least half of its fleet of ferries sailing with this clean energy, and reach one hundred percent of the fleet within a period of ten years.
Liquefied natural gas is one of the fossil fuels most respectful of the environment. Its use implies the reduction of CO 2 emissions by 30%, NOx by 35% and the total elimination of sulfur and particles, which has an immediate effect on improving air quality and reducing the effect greenhouse.
The shipping company has been working on projects related to liquefied natural gas since 2012. Thus, in addition to being a founding member of the Spanish Association of Natural Gas for Mobility (GASNAM), created in 2013, it has strategic agreements with Naturgy (with which it has an exclusive LNG supply guarantee contract until the year 2030) and with the supplying companies Rolls Royce and Wärtsilä (for the construction of engines). Also, Baleària last year launched the first generator of electricity to LNG in a passenger ship, the Abel Matutes, and has implemented since 2015 an LNG training plan for its crew and ship inspectors.
NGV Global Editor Comment:
In late 2014 the Argentine-Uruguayan ferry company Buquebus commenced services of their new high speed LNG-fuelled catamaran ferry, HSC Francisco, for the busy route between Buenos Aires and Montevideo. It was the first dual-fueled ship in Latin America. Also known as “the Concorde of the seas”, the 99m vessel is able to reach speeds of 58 knots (107 km/h) while carrying 1,000 passengers and 150 cars.