A Passenger Ferry for Sustainable Sightseeing

04 October 2016

A Passenger Ferry for Sustainable Sightseeing

A new battery powered passenger ferry measuring 40 metres long and 15 metres wide that runs the route between Flåm and Gudvangen in Norway, with a capacity of 400 passengers going through the vulnerable Nærøyfjord has been designed, taking sightseeing to a new – and more sustainable – level.

Constructed in 2016 by Brødrene Aa i Hyen for the Norwegian shipping company, the Fjords, the hybrid-electric catamaran ‘Vision of the Fjords’ can take tourists up Norway’s beautiful coast in a both silent and sustainable way. According to Diab, the unique design, with the brand name Seasight, allows for a premium sightseeing vessel that utilises the very latest clean technology to preserve the ancient, natural treasure of the Norwegian fjords. Its walkways, which remind the spectator of a zig-zag path up a mountain, allow the passengers to walk around and get a good look at the scenery.

With a top speed of 19.5 knots, Diab says that Vision of the Fjords has a diesel engine, but the idea is to avoid using it as far as possible. Instead, the ship utilises an electric hybrid propulsion system developed by ABB, and powered by Mancraft diesel or by batteries from ZEM. The idea is to only use the diesel engines for longer transit distances, but that the vessel will be powered by batteries alone during sightseeing tours in the vulnerable Nærøyfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site. The batteries can be charged ether by on-shore power or by the engines on board.

In order to reduce energy consumption and lower the battery capacities needed, the vessel needs to be as light as possible, which is why Diab says Vision of the Fjords was constructed with carbon fibre composite materials. The sleek design is not only pleasant to the eye – the light weight reduces carbon footprint and the impact on the environment. In addition, the material offers a great deal of construction freedom, allowing for a design that efficiently reduces waves and thus the impact erosion of the vulnerable shores of the Nærøyfjord.

Diab explains that it has been working with Brødrene Aa since 1974 and has been a partner in developing the sandwich composite technology. Brødrene AA has produced several fast-going ships in Divinycell FRP reinforced panels. As an early champion of carbon-fibre sandwich constructions, Brødrene AA appreciates the reduced weight and the increased strength of the material. Compared to fibreglass sandwich and aluminium, carbon fibre provides four times the rigidity of fibreglass reinforcement, as well as two to three times the tensile strength.

Vision of the Fjords was constructed using Divinycell H. Diab claims that the material provides excellent mechanical properties and low weight. Compatible with most wet resin systems, it can be found in virtually every application area where sandwich composites are employed, including the marine, transport, wind energy and civil engineering. Its low thermal conductivity makes it especially suitable as insulation at low or cryogenic temperatures.

Vision of the Fjords is now officially a winner. Brødrene Aa received the prestigious award ‘Ship of the Year 2016’ for Vision of the Fjords at the International Maritime Trade Fare SMM in Hamburg in September.


Photo provided by Diab

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