Friday, November 27, 2020

'Queen of the Norwegian Coast' to Retire to Become Training Vessel for Next Generation

Young Mariners to Benefit as Cruise Specialist Sells to Maritime School
Shipping News Feature

NORWAY – An old veteran of the Norwegian coast is to retire from service and take on a new role. After nearly six decades the MS Lofoten is slated to leave the Hurtigruten fleet and become a training ship - educating future generations of seafarers.

Operated by Hurtigruten, the Lofoten will to be sold to Maritim videregående skole Sørlandet (Sørlandet’s Maritime High School) the educational foundation, pending final approval from both parties. The decision was made as we witness many similar ageing cruise ships sold off as scrap or repurposed, as the effects of the pandemic exacerbate the problems of maintaing such vessels in a fit state for passengers.

The deal actually allows for the vessel to work a little throughout her retirement as there is apparently a clause in the contract for Hurtigruten to rent back the ship during school holiday periods and travel once more as a cruise vessel.

The Sørlandet’s Maritime High School has trained young mariners since 1927. The Lofoten will be its fifth training ship, where students live, work and practice their skills on board. The 151-bed ship is due to welcome her first students in August 2021.

Built in 1964, the MS Lofoten served on Hurtigruten’s scheduled service between Bergen and Kirkenes, carrying up to 400 passengers each trip. Nicknamed ‘The Queen of the Coast’, her 56 years of service saw her cross the Arctic Circle more than 3500 times and travel a distance equivalent to more than 200 times around the equator.

Remarkably, and a testament to her engineers, the ship is even still powered by her original Burmeister & Wain diesel engine. With over 330,000 running hours, the engine is known as the longest running marine diesel main engine in the world. Hurtigruten Group CEO Daniel Skjeldam said:

“This opens a new chapter in MS Lofoten’s rich and proud history. She has been a part of everyday life along the Norwegian coast for generations. Now, she will train the next generation of seafarers.

“MS Lofoten is a special ship with a very rich history and a unique atmosphere. She is very special to many of us in Hurtigruten, to our guests and her crew. She has served us extremely well, and I am delighted to see her start her new life as a training ship.”

This is not the first of the company fleet to be used in this way. Only two of its vessels are currently operating cruises whilst there is an ongoing investigation into the outbreak of Covid-19 which occurred on the Hurtigruten owned Roald Amundsenearlier this year.