Norwegian Ship of the Year 2016 with… Polish clues!

Vision of the Fjords. Photo: Sverre Hjørnevik
Vision of the Fjords. Photo: Sverre Hjørnevik

A hybrid-electric sightseeing vessel, Vision of the Fjords, designed and built by Brødrene Aa, has been awarded “Ship of the Year 2016” by the maritime magazine “Skipsrevyen”.

The winner was announced during the SMM 2016 exhibition in Hamburg, where both the operator – The Fjords – and yard representatives were present at the ceremony as well as Norwegian authorities with Ms Dilek Ayhan, State Secretary, Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries.

Vision of the Fjords is a premium sightseeing vessel designed from the ground up to enhance passenger`s sightseeing experience and reduce the vessels environmental footprint. The catamaran is 42 meter long, 15 meter wide and built in lightweight carbon fibre composite. The vessel is classed by DNVGL and certified for 400 passengers.

With a slender hull designed by Paradis Nautica, equipped with a hybrid propulsion system developed by Mancraft, the new build can reach a top speed of 19 knots. The propulsion control and automation system is delivered by Marcontrol, the battery system by ZEM/LG, while drives and power management system are delivered by ABB.

The exterior design is inspired by a twisting mountain road and gives the passengers freedom to walk around the ship while enjoying the scenery. Inside, the vessel has passenger accommodations on two decks, featuring large panoramic windows, seating in a variety of configurations and a large refreshment kiosk on the main deck.

Vision of The Fjords supersedes everything else on these iconic Norwegian waterways – says Rolf Sandvik, CEO of The Fjords AS, the company which ordered the vessel. – We offer a unique passenger experience, as they become ‘at one’ with the nature that surrounds them, but it also encapsulates our own vision for the future of tourism here. We are accessing and displaying some of the world’s most beautiful, yet vulnerable, natural areas. It is our objective to do this in a responsible, sustainable and respectful manner – he further expresses.

The routes that the vessel will ply are within some of Norway’s most beautiful fjords, namely Nærøyfjorden, Lysefjorden and Geirangerfjorden. There is a need for protection of these fjords, but there is no available shore-power and it seems electric propulsion is the only solution.

The jury consisted of Mr Sturla Henriksen, CEO of the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association, Mr Lars Gørvell-Dahll, Director, Maritime Sector of the Federation of Norwegian Industries and Mr. Asle B. Strønen, Editor of SKIPSREVYEN. The jury is impressed that this company, which in turn is owned by the transport provider Fjord 1 AS and the tourist-destination Flåm AS, have taken it upon themselves to order such a fascinating vessel.

“This year’s Ship of the Year is truly innovative, with efficient diesel propulsion for long distance transfer and electric propulsion for quiet and pollution-free sightseeing in the beautiful UNESCO-listed Norwegian fjords. The design of the vessel itself, a catamaran with a carbon-fibre hull and the modern passenger facilities adds to the overall feeling that this is something completely new” – the jury stated.

Electing “Ship of the Year” the jury acknowledges The Fjords’ quest for innovative solutions to operational challenges. The jury also notes that the vessel marks the start of a journey rather than a conclusion, as they aim to replace its existing fleet with vessels that utilize the latest green technology in order to enhance environmental standards and customer experience. With strong financial backing of its owners, “this strategy is a clear objective rather than a dream” Rolf Sandvik explains.

– It is an honor for us to be awarded “Ship of the Year 2016”. This project has been a challenging journey from day one, combining an ambitious exterior design with new hybrid propulsion technology, all executed within 12 months. Vision of the Fjords is a product of a collective effort from the yard, operator and suppliers in a constructive dialogue with Norwegian Maritime Directory – managing director in Brødrene Aa, Tor Øyvin Aa said at the ceremony in Hamburg.

Attending the ceremony at SMM 2016 in Hamburg, was looing for any “Polish clues” in the project. It’s worth recalling, that the previous “Ship of the year” proclaimed at SMM 2014, the world’s first zero emissions electrical car ferry Ampere has had the hull made of aluminium and built at Gdansk-based Aluship Technology. The ferry has been designed by Polish company Nelton Ltd.

The Vision of the Fjords ferry has been entirely designed and built in Norway, but… internationally, that is quite often in the shipbuilding industry worldwide.

– I know for sure, that there are many Polish workers at the Brodrene A yard in Hyen – Rolf Sandvik admitted interviewed by us after the official ceremony. – Hyen is a small village with fourty inhabitants. They have a hundred and sixty employees at the shipyard. This means they have a “minus” of a hundred and twenty people working there… We couldn’t have made it without Polish workers who are specialists in many of these carbon fibre laying and injection methods that Brødrene Aa is famous for. So, we are hugely depending on help from Poland – he further explained.

– Thirty per cent of our employees are Poles – Tor Øyvin Aa, managing director at Brødrene Aa confirmed.

So, we have found it!

GL, rel (Brødrene Aa, Skipsrevyen). Photos: Sverre Hjørnevik, Ole Mathias/Brødrene Aa, Romanus Fuhrmann/HMC)

Below: Our video coverage of the ceremony at SMM 2016 including interviews with Rolf Sandvik, CEO of The Fjords AS and Andrè Høyset, managing director of the Fjord 1 AS.

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