Designed and built specifically for harsh Norwegian weather conditions and to meet the service requirements of isolated communities, Image Marine’s first vessels for the European market present a new benchmark for the Australian shipbuilder.
Built for leading ferry operator Ofotens og Vesteraalens Dampskibsselskab asa (OVDS) and named “Salten” and “Steigtind”, the passenger-cargo catamarans will operate out of the far northern port of Bodø. Capable of 35 knots and with capacity for 214 passengers and 30 Euro pallets (12 tonnes) of refrigerated cargo, the 41.3 metre vessels provide not only a passenger service, but also the only transportation link for travel and supplies between many small islands and the mainland.
OVDS Technical Director, Mr Per Harald Ottestad, said the new vessels would enhance the company’s existing high level of customer service.
“When designing the vessels, Image Marine worked closely with OVDS to ensure that the vessels successfully incorporated all the features that their critical community service function and the expected operating conditions demand,” he said.
Onboard facilities, for example, include large luggage storage areas and a specially designed room that allows passengers to transport their pets. A kiosk provides refreshments throughout the round-trip which can last up to six hours and an adjacent television room with toys provides children with a play area separate from the main passenger cabin. Smokers are catered for with a protected outdoor smoking area on the upper deck.
The ferries’ refrigerated cargo facilities enable OVDS to provide a valuable service delivering goods to and from the mainland, particularly for Norway’s significant fishing industry. Cargo is lifted into the hold by cranes on the upper deck, which feature remote control capability for ease and swiftness of loading and unloading – a vital factor on this service due to the large number of different ports called upon each day.
Located aft, the hold features a hydraulically-operated hatch cover, tie down fasteners for rough weather and sealed floors which allow the hold to be hosed down. All aspects of the hold have been outfitted in accordance with the applicable hygiene requirements.
Designed to operate with four crew, the vessel’s layout facilitates the easy flow of passengers. Hydraulically-operated boarding ramps are positioned both port and starboard and cater for the various wharf heights encountered on the route, while the central ticketing office allows passengers to purchase tickets after boarding. Boarding passengers move forward to the main seating area, via luggage storage compartments where they can leave their belongings.
Sliding doors separate the main passenger cabin from the lobby and baggage areas, creating a quiet environment in which passengers can relax in climate-controlled comfort. Seating is arranged in a mixture of row and table and chair arrangements and the entire interior is fitted out to the typically high standards expected by Scandinavian passengers.
Passengers with disabilities are well catered for, with noticeable features being hearing aid induction loops and interior colour schemes designed to clearly delineate walkways for those with poor eyesight.
Given the nature of the service, it is also important that the captain and crew are well looked after. Located on the upper deck aft of the bridge are the ship’s office, a separate crew shower and toilet, and a dining/lounge area which features cooking facilities, television and comfortable seating around a large table.
In addition to the valuable community service provided by “Salten” and “Steigtind”, the aluminium sister ships have been specifically designed for harsh weather conditions and sometimes difficult seas.
Since the vessels operate north of the Arctic Circle and throughout winter, specific attention was paid to ensuring year-round functioning of all aspects of the vessel in below freezing conditions. This includes all engineering systems and is encompassed in features such as the covered mooring decks aft, which protect the crew from the weather when docking, and a sloped forward bulkhead that is designed to prevent the build-up of snow and ice over the escape hatch.
While based on a successful existing Austal hullform, the hulls and tunnel height have been slightly modified for Norwegian sea conditions and to allow for expected variations in passenger and cargo loads. The catamarans use Seastate interceptors to modify running trim as well as providing significant motion damping.
Commenting on this aspect of the vessels, Per Harald Ottestad said
, “We initially thought that we would require T-foils to limit motions to an acceptable level but we have been pleasantly surprised by the performance of the interceptor system. The ride is even better than we thought it would be.”
Power for the vessels is provided by twin MTU 16V 4000 diesels, each driving a Kamewa waterjet via a ZF gearbox. This produced a speed of 33 knots in trials conditions.
Image Marine Sales and Marketing Manager, Mr Mark Stothard, said delivering vessels to Norway, a traditional home for fast ferry design, construction and operation, was particularly satisfying.
“In placing the order for these two catamarans with us, OVDS provided
a great vote of confidence in the skills, reputation and competitiveness of Image Marine,” he said.
Per Harald Ottestad said the decision to build the vessels in Australia in preference to a yard in Norway or elsewhere had only been made after careful deliberation.
“When considering the various options, we had to take into account many different factors including vessel performance, price, construction quality and the builder’s level of expertise and experience. Image Marine provided the best overall package, and we look forward to introducing these new ferries to our service this summer,” he said.
Mark Stothard said the experience of building some of the very first fast ferries built to the High Speed Craft Code 2000 had provided the company with a unique opportunity to display its skills.
“Working with such a highly experienced customer, and the extremely diligent Norwegian Maritime Directorate as survey authority, and meeting their requirements has enabled us to show, once again, that Image Marine can produce vessels to the highest standards,” he said.
“We are really proud of these ferries. Our ongoing goal is to improve on our previous build and I believe these are the best boats we have ever produced,” Mr Stothard said. “They are a tribute to the skills and hard work of the Image Marine design
and construction team and I am sure that OVDS’s passengers will be extremely pleased with their new, Australian-built transportation link.