In the Visentini shipyard near Chioggi in Italy, a ferry under construction for Polish Baltic Shipping (Polferries) charter has been launched: it is 216 metres long, has eight decks, and can accommodate 150 trucks and 200 cars, as well as a thousand passengers.
The finishing touches are currently underway. They were observed on-site by a Polish delegation. “This is the beginning of a major modernisation process for the Polish Baltic Shipping,” – Deputy Infrastructure Minister Grzegorz Witkowski told Polish Press Agency (PAP).
– ‘During the term of our political predecessors, there were various ideas to privatise Polferries, that practically meant the liquidation of our shipowner. That time was wasted. Instead of dealing with investments, they dealt with ideas that would result – I emphasise once again – in the elimination of Polferries,” Witkowski assessed.
The ferry, which is being built in Italy, is to join the Polish Baltic Shipping fleet in the second half of 2024, to sail on the Świnoujście-Ystad route. The vessel will be adapted for LNG propulsion.
– ‘I am very positively impressed by what I saw. The scale and pace of the work really enthralled me,’ assessed the minister while visiting the ferry’s construction at the Visentin shipyard.
– ‘The market and the situation forced us to look elsewhere than at the shipyards considered leading up to that point. Even more so, we did not want to look in China. After months of analysis and negotiations, the choice fell on the shipyard in Chioggi. I congratulate Polish Baltic Shipping on this choice. Italy, like other southern European countries, where there is a tradition of great sailors, knows how to do it,” noted Grzegorz Witkowski.
He pointed out that “we need to make up for years of neglect, which we are doing with great consistency. The Visentini shipyard is the first step. The second step is the three ferries that will be built at the Remontowa Shiprepair Yard S.A.”.
– Polish Baltic Shipping (Polferries) and Polish Steamship Company (Polsteam) have a chance to consolidate their position in the Baltic Sea,” he said.
As the deputy minister stressed, the cost of the ferry at around one billion zlotys was a good price.
– Now we would probably pay much more for such a ferry. It is also worth noting the increase in steel prices. The steel from which the ferry is built was bought in Macedonia – said the deputy minister. – The timing of its delivery is important. A word of thanks is due to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who created the financial scheme in such a way that both the State Treasury and the shipowner will bear the burden, Witkowski stated.
The contract for the charter of the new ferry with an option for its subsequent purchase was signed by Polferries in August 2022. The conclusion of the contract was a consequence of the funding that Polferries received in the form of bonds from the State Treasury at the turn of 2021/2022. The ferry is chartered for 10 years and will be redeemable after six years. The vessel, which was launched at the beginning of April 2023, was viewed at the shipyard by a Polish delegation led by Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Grzegorz Witkowski and CEO of Polferries Andrzej Madejski.