Baleària sets the ‘Marie Curie’, the second of its LNG ferries under construction, out to sail
The shipping company Baleària, an international pioneer in the use of liquified natural gas, has just set its ferry Marie Curie out to sail from the Italian shipyard Cantiere Navale Visentini; whereas construction on its twin Hypatia de Alejandría is just about finished with the corresponding sea trials planned. They are the first LNG-propelled ferries to sail the Mediterranean. The Hypatia de Alejandría is to begin operating at the beginning of the year and the Marie Curie a few months afterwards.
As concerns the newly-afloat Marie Curie, practically the entire structure is finished and work is being done to prepare the passenger and crew areas meaning more than 50% of the construction is now complete. Moreover, the LNG engines and tanks as well as the primary equipment are already onboard.
On the other hand, the Hypatía de Alejandría is nearly finished. The ferry is currently at the dry dyke where anti-scaling silicone is being applied to the hull. The ship is expected to go through sea trials in the coming weeks with both liquified natural gas and fuel.
The investment in building these two smart ships, which will be pioneer on the Mediterranean, totals 200 million euros. They are sustainable ships with identical characteristics: 186.5 metres long with a maximum speed of 24 knots and the capacity for 810 people, 2100 linear metres of cargo and 150 vehicles. Technology and digitization have been used for these two new ships for energy efficiency purposes as they will be equipped with LED lighting and other features besides the dual fuel LNG engines (with 20,600 KW of power). Moreover, the latest innovations in onboard services will be implemented for more experiential journeys.
Pioneers in natural gas
For Baleària, the use of LNG as a fuel is a strategic commitment in order to comply with social responsibility and economic profitability criteria in addition to a way to position it as an international pioneer in the use of liquified natural gas. Besides these two ships, the construction at the Armon shipyard of the first fast ferry with LNG engines to sail anywhere in the world was recently announced. Furthermore, the first of the six ships in the fleet to switch to natural gas-propelled engines was refitted this month. This project is being partially funded by the European Union with 12 million euros out of the total 72 million investment after classifying it as excellent.
Baleària plans to have at least half of its fleet of ferries sailing with this clean energy within the next three years and reach one hundred percent of the fleet within ten years.
Liquefied natural gas is one of the most environmentally-friendly fossil fuels to exist. Its use leads to a 30% drop in CO2 emissions, 35% NOx and the complete elimination of sulphur and particles which has an immediate effect on air quality improvement and reducing the greenhouse effect.
The shipping company has been working on liquified natural gas-related projects since 2012. Thus, besides being a founding member of the Spanish Natural Gas for Mobility Association (GASNAM), created in 2013, it has strategic agreements with Naturgy (with which it has an exclusive 2030-year LNG supply contract) and Rolls Royce and Wärtsilä (to build engines). Moreover, the first LNG electricity generator was installed in a passenger ship, the Abel Matutes, last year and an LNG training plan was implemented for ship crew and inspectors in 2015.
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