29 December 2010

Translandia, 22 August 2008


IMO 7429229
Built 1976, J.J. Sietas Werft Hamburg, West Germany
Tonnage 13 700 GT
Length 135,49 m
Width 21,71 m
Draugth 6,46 m
100 passengers
63 berths
1624 lane metres
2 MAN diesels, combined 9312 kW
2 propellers
Speed 19 knots

I'm not normally too keen on photographing freighters nor putting up photos of them, but these photos from 2008 looked rather nice, and I've already posted pics of other Eckerö Line ships, so I thought, why not?

Translandia is Eckerö Line's freight-carrying ship sailing between Helsinki and Tallinn. She started life in 1976 as Transgermania for West Germany's Poseidon Schiffahrt, serving between Finland and West Germany. Poseidon later formed a joint service with Finncarriers and the Transgermania came to be marketed under the joint Finncarriers-Poseidon brand.

In 1990 the Transgermania was supplanted by the newer Translubeca and spent the entire decade under charter to various other shipping companies, most notably Stena Line. In 1993 she was renamed Rosebay and during a charter to Sally Line in 1995-1998 first Eurostar which was later amended to Eurocruiser. After the end of the charter in 1998 she reverted to Rosebay.

Following the end of her last Stena charter in 2001 the Rosebay was sold to the Finnish Rederi Ab Engship who chartered her to Botnia Link, a new company established to offer service across the Gulf of Bothnia. Renamed Transparaden, the ship sailed on a route linking Vaasa to Härnösand and Umeå. This was not a success and already in 2002 Botnia Link went bankrupt. The Transparaden again spent the next two years under various charters (again), until she was sold to Eckerö Line in 2004. Her name was amended to Translandia (presumably to match the name of her route-mate Nordlandia) and she was placed in service between Helsinki and Tallinn where she remains to this day.

The photographs below show the Translandia arriving in Helsinki West Harbour on 22 August 2008, photographed from Vattuniemi. Click on the images to view full size.

A very Finnish view passing Pihlajasaari, with birch tress and all. The ship's livery has since been altered to a slightly-different "Eckerö Line Cargo" livery.
About to turn and back into the quay at West Harbour. As a freighter, the Translandia also moved to the new Vuosaari harbour when it was opened in late 2008.

18 December 2010

Julia, 15 August 2008


IMO 8020642
Built 1982, AG Weser Seebeckswerft Bremerhaven, West Germany
Tonnage 22 161 GT
Length 153,40 m
Width 24,70 m
Draugth 5,80 m
Ice class 1A
2 048 passengers
863 berths
530 cars
4 Pielstick diesels, combined 15 300 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 20 knots

The Julia enjoyed, if that is the right word, only a very brief Baltic Sea service on the short-lived Stella Lines' Helsinki-St. Petersburg route. She has however had an interesting career outside the Baltic.

Originally built as the Olau Britannia, the ship was a younger sister of the Olau Hollandia (today's Nordlandia) ordered for Olau Line by their owner TT Line. Originally the second sister was planned to enter service on TT Line's Trelleborg-Travemünde route, but instead she joined her sister on Olau's Sheerness-Vlissingen cross-channel service. At the time of their completion the Olau sisters were the best-appointed ferries on the English Channel routes.

In 1989-1990 the Olau Britannia and her sister were replaced by newer ships of similar but larger construction, confusingly also named Olau Hollandia and Olau Britannia. In preparation for the delivery of the new Olau sisters, the old sisters were sold to the Swedish shipping company Nordström & Thulin, who were at the time expanding radically into passenger shipping, to be delivered once the new sisters entered service. The old Olau Hollandia did pass to N&T in 1989 (for their Gotlandslinjen subsidiary), but the old Olau Britannia was resold by N&T to Fred. Olsen before they ever took delivery of the ship.

In 1990 then the Olau Britannia was delivered to Fred. Olsen, who renamed her Bayard for their Fred. Olsen Line Kristiansand/Oslo-Hirsthals service. Her new career was to be very short-lived, as in the beginning of 1991 Fred. Olsen sold their North Sea ferry operations (including the Bayard, Bolero and Borgen but not the line's flagship Braemar) to Color Line. Color Line had only been formed at the end of 1990 when the Norwegian Kosmos Group merged their existing shipping companies Jahre Line and Norway Line into a single unit. The new owners renamed the Bayard into Christian IV and kept her on the same service as before.

The Christian IV was rebuilt in 1999 at Fredericia Værft in Denmark and again in 2005 at Remontowa in Poland. In 2008 she was withdrawn from service on the Kristiansand-Hirsthals route when the new SuperSpeed 1 was delivered. She briefly returned to service later that year on the Larvik-Hirtshals route, but was sold in July 2008 to the Finland-based Stella Lines, who planned on using her to restart ferry services between Helsinki and St. Petersburg.

Renamed Julia and repainted with Stella Lines' hull and funnel markings but otherwise retaining her blue-hulled Color Line livery, the ship begun sailing on the Helsinki-St. Petersburg route in August 2008. And in the beginning of October the service was closed down. The Julia was laid up in Kotka and put for sale. Soon afterwards Stella Lines (or more to the point, the Stella company's passenger-carrying subsidiary) went bankrupt. Several auctions were held but the ship remained unsold until September 2009, when she was finally sold to Fastnet Line, a new company planning to restart ferry services between Swansea and Cork.

Fastnet Line kept the name Julia for the ship and did not alter her livery except to paint over the Stella Lines' hull and funnel markings. In spring 2010 the Julia begun sailing between Swansea and Cork, on which route she remains to this day.

The photographs below (the only ones of the ship I have) show the Julia on Kruunuvuorenselkä after departing Helsinki South Harbour on the evening of 15 August 2010. Click on the images to view full size.

To this date I wonder whose bright idea it was to choose a light yellow star on a white background as the funnel symbol for the line. Even in better lighting the star was almost impossible to distinguish from the background.
I had actually planned to photograph the Julia at the traditional spot in Kustaanmiekka strait for more dynamic views, but her departure was delayed that day and I was actually already leaving Suomenlinna to catch a ferry home at a remotely-human hour when the ship did depart and I was forced to photograph her from the less-than ideal location of the ferry quay.

15 December 2010

Finnstar, 15 August 2008


IMO 9319442
Built 2006, Fincantieri Castellammare di Stabia, Italy
Tonnage 45 923 GT
Length 218,80 m
Width 30,50 m
Draught 7,00 m
Ice class 1 A Super
500 passengers
500 berths
4 216 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 48 000 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 25 knots

Finnstar was the lead ship in Finnlines' five-ship ropax series ordered from Fincantieri for the Finland-Germany and Finland-Sweden routes. Like all this in the class the Finnstar's delivery was severly delayed. She was supposed to enter service in late 2005, but only made her first sailing between Helsinki and Travemünde in August 2006. In November 2008 the port Finnlines' ships used in Helsinki was changed from Sompasaari to the new Vuosaari freight harbour. In 2009 Finnlines' Finland-Germany passenger service was split into two routes: Helsinki-Travemünde and Helsinki-Gdansk-Rostock.

The photographs below show Finnstar passing Suomenlinna on 15 August 2008. Click on the individual images to view full size.

Coming from behind ;P Suomenlinna's westernly ramparts.
Come to think of it, how many ships do you see today with an actual rear mast? The last one I can think of (before the Star-class) sailing in the Baltic is Viking Line's Rosella and she was built way back in 1980.
No idea what's up with the uneven paintwork.
Entering the actual Kustaanmiekka strait - from a different point-of-view for a change.
And passing through the strait.

Gabriella, 15 August 2008


IMO 8917601
Built 1992, Brodogradiliste Split, Croatia
Tonnage 35 492 GT
Length 171,50 m
Width 28,20 m
Draught 6,25 m
Ice class 1 A Super
2 420 passengers
2 402 verths
400 cars
900 lane metres
4 Pielstick diesels, combined 23 760 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 21,5 knots

Gabriella in the Kustaanmiekka strait on 15 August 2008. Photographs from the same session (not the same photoes) are featured at Simplon Postcards. Click on the individual images to view full size.

Heading for the strait as per the usual practice, Laajasalo in th background.
No explanation nescessary, I guess.
The narrowness of the strait isn't actually that impressive from this point of view. It looks narrower when there's no ship passing through it.

09 December 2010

Boudicca, 15 August 2008


IMO 7218395
Built 1973, Wärtsilä Helsinki, Finland
Tonnage 28 388 GT
Length 205,47 m
Width 25,20 m
Draught 7,55 m
900 passengers
4 MAN/B&W diesels, combined 14 000 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
Speed 22 knots

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines' Boudicca is a classic ship, one of the first cruise ships ever to be built at Wärtsilä's Hietalahti shipyard in Helsinki. She was built as the Royal Viking Sky, the second of three ships built for the Royal Viking Line, a new luxury cruise line established by the Norwegian shipping companies Der Bergenske Dampskibsselskab (DBS, better known in English as the Bergen Line), Det Nordenfjeldske Dampskibsselskab and AF Klaveness & Co. Each company owned one of the three ships, which were joint marketed as Royal Viking Line. The Royal Viking Sky was (probably) owned by Nordenfjeldske, although some sources state she was owned by Bergen Line instead. Some even claim she was owned by Kloster Cruise (the owners of Norwegian Cruise Line) but this must be a mistake as Kloster only became involved in Royal Viking Line later on.

Reagrdless of who owned her, the Royal Viking Sky entered service in 1973. Through-out the 70s the Royal Viking trio competed for the title of the world's most luxurious cruise ships with Norwegian America Line's Sagafjord and Vistafjord. In order to increase the company's capacity without needing to order new ships, the Royal Viking Line partners decided to have the three ships each lengthened with the addition of the 28-meter long midsection. For the Royal Viking Sky the lengthening was carried out at the A.G. Weser shipyard in Bremerhaven, West Germany in autumn 1982. The lengthening however proved to be a mistake: the ships lost much of the intimate atmosphere that had made them popular and without all-new ships Royal Viking Line had trouble competing with brands with newer, purpose-built ships.

In 1984 Kloster Cruise took over the Royal Viking Line. In 1991 all of the original Royal Viking sisters were transferred to othwer Kloster-owned brands (Royal Viking Line continued trading with the newer Royal Viking Sun and Royal Viking Queen until 1994 when the brand was sold to Cunard Line). The Royal Viking Sky briefly became Norwegian Cruise Line's Sunward, but already in 1992 she was sold to the Finland-based Birka Line, who renamed her Birka Queen and used her for cruises from Stockholm to St. Petersburg and Riga. (Birka had been building a new ship, also to be named Birka Queen, at Wärtsilä's Turku shipyard, but opted not to continue building the ship after Wärtsilä Marine's bankruptcy and bought the Sunward instead).

After the 1992 summer season the Birka Queen was chartered back to Norwegian Cruise Line for the 1992-1993 winter season, reverting to the name Sunward. Birka opted not to operate the ship themselves for the 1993 summer season, and instead she was now chartered to Princess Cruises, becoming the Golden Princess for cruising to Alaska. After Princess Cruises acquired new tonnage in 1996 they had no further need for the Golden Princess, and Birka Line sold her to Star Cruises. In 1997-1998 the ship sailed as their SuperStar Capricorn. Her iteneraries apparently included casino cruising out of New York. In 1998 Hyundai Merchant Marine chartered the ship for five years, renamed her Hyundai Keumgang and used her for cruising from South Korea to North Korea. However, Hyundai Merchant Marine went bankrupt already in 2001, and the ship returned to Star Cruises service and reverted to the name SuperStar Capricorn.

In 2004 Star Cruises sold the SuperStar Capricorn to Viajes Iberojet, who renamed her Grand Latino for Mediterranean cruising. After a little under two years with the ship Iberojet sold her, now to Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. In keeping with their tradition of giving names beginning with "B" to their ships, Olsen planned on naming the ship Boadicea after the legendary celtic queen. This was later altered to Boudicca, in accordance with the spelling currently preferred by historians. Prior to entering service with Fred. Olsen the Boudicca sailed to the Blohm+Voss shipyard in Hamburg, where she was refitted with new engines, additional suites with balconies and her interiors thoroughly rebuilt. Since February 2006 the Boudicca has been in service with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, sailing on varied iteneraries around the world.

Photographs below show the Boudicca deparing Helsinki on 15 August 2008. Click on the individual images to view full size.

The usual view, entering the Kustaanmiekka strait.
In the strait, showing her very fine Tage Wandborg -designed lines,
That's a fine rear you've got there, queen Boudicca. :P
Parting shot as the Boudicca heads on to open waters.

03 December 2010

Silja Symphony, 31 July 2008

Silja Symphony

IMO 8803769
Built 1991, Kvaerner Masa-Yards Turku New Shipyard, Finland
Tonnage 58 377 GT
Length 203,03 m
Width 31,93 m
Draft 7,12 m
Ice class 1A Super
2 852 passengers
3 001 berths
410 cars
1 600 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä-Vasa diesels, combined 32 580 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 21 knots

I guess there isn't much top say about the Silja Symphony that hasn't already been said in this blog. So I'll just let the photographs speak for themselves.

Silja Symphony passing through the Kustaanmiekka strait on 31 July 2008. Click on the images to view full size.

No, the picture isn't crooked. The ship on the other hand is.
Dynamic through the strait.

02 December 2010

LNG - The Fuel for the Future?

Those of you who follow the ferry news in the Nordic Countries are probably aware that Viking Line have made a memorandum of agreement with the STX shipyard in Turku to build a 60 000 GT LNG-powered cruiseferry that - should the agreement be made - will replace the company's Isabella on the Turku-Stockholm service in 2013. Viking Line however are not the only ferry company planning for a natural gas -based future: the Norwegian company Fjord Line (company website) are currently building two large ferries for their Norway-Denmark services, to be delivered in 2012.

The usage of LNG however is not without problems at the moment. A major hurdle in the path of Viking Line's plan is the lack of fuel infrastructure in the company's traffic area. To supply fuel for the new ship, an entirely new LNG terminal has to be built. There are plans for building such in either Turku or the neighbouring city Naantali but it's still a major investment. In Norway the problem is apparently less severe, as a number of small coastal ferries are already LNG-powered and one presumes the new Fjord Line ships are capable of using the same facilities.

Why then the sudden desire for companies to build LNG-powered ships? The ansver lies in new EU air pollution regulations that are due to come into effect in Northern Europe 2015. These rules specify that ships must use fuel with a 0,1% sulphur content instead of the current 1%. In effect this will double the fuel expenses of traditional diesel-engined ferries and forces shipping companies to look into alternative sources of fuel. There is however the problem that Viking Line has: in most places the supply infrastructure does not exist and according to a report in Cruise Business Online, it will take until 2020 for the infrastructure to be properly built. Potentially this can be a serious threat to the ferry operators in Northern Europe, as many routes will simply not be viable under the new conditions.

That said, why are the shipping companies awakening to this fact now? The decision on the new pollution regulations was made already in 2008. It would have probably been possibly to fit ships completed this year such as Stena Line's new Stena Hollandica and Stena Britannica or P&O's upcoming Spirit of Britain and Spirit of France with LNG-compatible engines. Yet this wasn't done. Instead the companies spent two years procrastinating and now complain that they won't have time to implement the changes by 2015.

I'm not arguing this wouldn't be a major problem as refitting all existing tonnage in five years (or even seven years) simply isn't viable and the raised fuel expenses are likely to result in route closures. That in turn will cause an increase in road traffic, which will in turn negate any benifit of the less-polluting ship fuel. But shouldn't you have started doing something about it a bit earlier?