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Finnish shipyards land orders for 'green' cruise ships

Japan's biggest cruise-ship operator has tapped the Helsinki Shipyard to build a ship billed as the world's greenest cruise liner. Earlier in May, Turku shipyard landed a deal to build two cruise ships that are similarly described as green cruise vessels.

Peace Boat Ecoship Arctech
Artist's rendering of the Ecoship to be built in Helsinki. Image: Peace Boat

The Japanese company Peace Boat has signed a letter of intent with the Arctech Helsinki Shipyard to build a vessel dubbed the Ecoship.

The final contract is to be signed in the near future, with delivery time pencilled in for the spring of 2020. The cruise liner is to feature 750 cabins with space for 2,000 passengers.

Arctech Helsinki is fully owned by the Russian state firm United Shipbuilding Corporation, which was placed on the US sanctions list imposed after Moscow's intervention in Ukraine. Neither company has been blacklisted by the EU.

The vessel is to sport cutting-edge sustainable technology including 10 masts to harness wind energy for propulsion, solar panel-covered sails and a 6,000-square-metre solar farm, a closed-loop water system to reuse, purify and re-purpose water and waste heat recovery systems intended to reclaim 80 percent of the energy normally lost in the air and water. Power will be stored in new-generation batteries and hot and ice storage tanks.

Along with wind-powered electric propulsion, the ship will also rely on traditional diesel engines. 

A shipboard garden will be cultivated with organic waste and rainwater.  The vessel's hull is to be covered with a non-toxic, anti-fouling hull coating that mimics fish skin.

Although Arctech is best known for its expertise in making ships able to negotiate heavy ice, the ship will be rated as IMO PC 7 ice class, which only allows operation in thin summer and autumn ice in conditions down to -10 degrees Celsius.

"Flagship for climate change"

The Ecoship is expected to carry some 6,000 passengers annually and offer exhibitions on green technology in up to 100 ports per year while serving as a "floating sustainability laboratory contributing to research on the ocean, climate and green marine technology".

The letter was signed by Arctech CEO Esko Mustamäki, DNV GL Regional Manager North Europe Jon Rysst and Peace Boat founder and director Yoshioka Tatsuya.

In a statement, Tatsuya called the ship "a flagship for climate change" and "a game changer for the shipping industry [that] will contribute to the protection of the environment".

Peace Boat, a social business focused on learning and intercultural communication, is categorised as an NGO in Special Consultative Status by the UN and has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Turku shipyard also sells sustainability

In early May, the German-owned Meyer Turku Shipyard signed a contract with the US-based Royal Caribbean Cruises for two huge cruise liners representing its new Icon class. They're among the first generation of cruise ships to be fully powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), which can cut greenhouse gas emissions by one fifth compared with heavy fuel oil.

The ships will also introduce the use of fuel cell technology, another move aimed at cutting emissions. They will be used while the ships are in port and at other times to power onboard activities.

"We believe fuel cells offer very interesting design possibilities," said Harri Kulovaara, RCL's Finnish chief of ship design. "As the technology becomes smaller and more efficient, fuel cells become more viable in a significant way to power the ship's hotel functions."

That RCC deal may be worth as much as 2 billion euros and will mean the yard needs at least 500 more workers.

Meyer Turku is already building two of the biggest-ever cruise vessels based on a deal signed last autumn with the Carnival Corporation. The luxury liners are to be completed in 2022 and 2024 respectively. Carnival Corporation says these ships represent "next-generation green cruising".

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