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Baltic Ferry Becomes First Passenger Ship in the World to Use Rotor for Wind-Assisted Propulsion

2nd May 2018
Baltic Sea cruiseferry Viking Grace with newly installed 'rotor' sail, the first passenger ship to have this sail-assisted feature in the world. Afloat adds at time of writing the 57,565grt cruiseferry is on the final (eastbound) leg of the routine Stockholm (Sweden)- Åland Islands-Turku (Finland) service. The cruiseship was built in the west Finnish port. Baltic Sea cruiseferry Viking Grace with newly installed 'rotor' sail, the first passenger ship to have this sail-assisted feature in the world. Afloat adds at time of writing the 57,565grt cruiseferry is on the final (eastbound) leg of the routine Stockholm (Sweden)- Åland Islands-Turku (Finland) service. The cruiseship was built in the west Finnish port. Credit: Viking Line - twitter

#FerryNews - Scandinavian operator, Viking Line based in Finland, has announced that its LNG fuelled cruiseferry M / S Viking Grace has become the first passenger ship in the world to utilize wind power through mechanical rotor driving.

The rotor sail developed by Norsepower, Finland, saves fuel and reduces emissions. The Viking Line will enter the sailing on the ships routine Turku-Stockholm route with the help of winds.

M / S Viking Grace's 24-meter-high and four-meter wide rotor cask is based on the Magnus phenomenon. When the sail spins, its surface pulls air on one side at less pressure than on one side. The differential pressure generates thrust that moves the ship forward. The sail functions automatically, and the system stops if the direction or intensity of the wind changes to the ship as unfavorable. With rotor dinghy, the ship's emissions are reduced by up to 900 tonnes per year depending on wind conditions.

The introduction of rotor dinghy reflects the green values ​​of Red ships. For the Åland shipyard, the sea and the archipelago have been a heartbeat and a prerequisite for livelihood for decades. M / S Viking Grace, which started operations in 2013, is already the world's most environmentally friendly ship: it moves with liquefied natural gas and is low in emissions and low noise. Thanks to the new sail, the Turku archipelago is sailing even more environmentally friendly.

This is a great day for us. As an Ålandian shipping company, we live in the sea, so promoting our well-being is of great importance to us. We want to be the forerunners in utilizing solutions that reduce environmental loads. Norsepower, a Finnish manufacturer of mechanical rotor cranes, is the world's leading solution to reduce fuel consumption and it is immensely great for us to introduce this innovation to M / S Viking Grace as the first passenger in the world, "says Jan Hanses, President of Viking Line .

Norsepower, a Finnish cleantech company, has developed its rotor blade for five years. The idea of ​​a rocket sailor is already about a hundred years old, but as the environmental requirements become more intense and as material and technology solutions develop, the solution has become very topical and interesting. Norsepower has been in the development for many years ahead of other players.

In addition to the M / S Viking Grape-mounted rotor crane, Viking Line's new, 2020-ready vessel will benefit from wind propulsion technology. Two Norsepower mechanical sails will be installed on a passenger ship built in China, and thus the potential for wind power will be doubled.

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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