Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Vessels Beyond the Normal Merchant Fleet Benefit from the Near Silent Power of Electricity

Whale Watching Ship Can Cruise Quietly Through the Fjords
Shipping News Feature

NORWAY – Straying slightly from our usual brief it is worth mentioning that there are vessels peculiarly suited to some of the new technologies even more than standard class commercial merchant shipping. Whilst hybrid technology advances into that market it seems the near silent running power train provided by electric propulsion is particularly suited to environmental activities such as the observation of cetaceans in their natural habitat.

So it is that the award-winning electric ship Brim Explorer has entered service in Tromsø as one of the world’s first hybrid-electric powered aluminium whale watching vessels. The vessel, built at Maritime Partner shipyard in Ålesund, Norway has been constructed to go beyond even the very latest of environmental requirements. Following a month of tests and the official launch and baptism ceremony, it is now in its home port of Tromsø, offering tourists ‘the voyage of a lifetime’.

Hundreds of people gathered to witness the Christening ceremony, taking an opportunity to appreciate the silent operations of the unique hybrid electric vessel, designed specifically to meet growing environmental requirements now and in the future, while allowing tourists to witness the peaceful beauty of the North Norwegian Fjords.

The silent beauty of the region can truly be appreciated when the vessel is propelled by batteries alone, eliminating the noise and vibration of a normal ship engine running on diesel. Brim chief executive and co-founder Agnes Arnadottir formed the company two years ago with Espen Larsen-Hakkebo, company chief financial officer. She commented:

“This has been super rewarding even though it has been hard work. We now know every single part, every nut and bolt, on this ship”.

The aluminium hulled vessel with huge windows and observation platforms can take up to 140 passengers out on sustainable whale watching and sightseeing tours powered by a battery system supplied by Corvus Energy, a driveline by Servogear, and system integration by Brunvoll Mar-El. One of the benefits for the vessel design will be the ease with which its batteries can be recharged, the vessel will need only a 400V 124 amp industrial power outlet to achieve this.

Brim already has a second vessel nearing completion and set to enter service in Spitsbergen on the remote Northern island of Svalbard. This will be the first ultra-clean vessel specifically built to Polar regulations. The vessel will be operated in conjunction with the Norwegian cruise and ferry operator Hurtigruten, allowing passengers and guests from Hurtigruten to enter waters that may be off limits to other cruise goers.

Investor support for designing a vessel from the ground up rather than adapting an existing design has allowed Agnes and Espen to build a vessel that meets their own goals, as well as the tightening societal and regulatory requirements for shipping, stretching the abilities and imagination of all involved to create a novel class of vessel.

The duo were responsible for bringing in the $5.2 million financing for a project which entailed enlisting a shipyard and suppliers to deliver a uniquely aesthetic design and ultra-clean propulsion system. Larsen-Hakkebo observed:

“We have had to do things from scratch, including financing the project, using so much innovative design and technology. But now we have delivered the first electric ship for northern Norway and now we can start twice daily tours from Tromsø.”

Photo: The Brim Explorer, the title ‘Brim’ comes from ancient Norse meaning ‘breaking wave’.