14 February 2011

Birger Jarl, 9 February 2011

Birger Jarl

IMO 5044893
Built 1953, Finnboda Varv Nacka, Sweden
Tonnage 3 564 GT
Length 92,50 m
Width 14,28 m
Draught 5,50 m
Ice class 1C
369 passengers
369 berths
1 MAN-B&W diesel, 2 795 kW
1 propeller
1 bow thruster
Speed 15,50 knots

Birger Jarl is a veritable relic that continues sailing only due to an exemption granted from SOLAS 2010 requirements. The Birger Jarl (also her original name) was planned as one of three similar but not identical ships built by Finland Steamship Company (FÅA), Steamship Company Bore and Rederi AB Svea for their joint service between Helsinki and Stockholm. All ships were planned to be in service by the 1952 Summer Olympics, held in Helsinki, but in the end only FÅA's Aallotar was delivered in time. Rederi AB Svea's Birger Jarl did not enter service until the summer of 1953. She was used on the Helsinki-Stockholm service during the summer months and during the winters (when the ice situation made sailing on the capital route difficult) on the Turku-Mariehamn-Stockholm route. As built the ship had a quadruple-expansion steam engine and the accommodation was still class-divided. Additionally she had no cardeck, though a maximum of 30 cars could be loaded onboard using a lifting crane.

In 1970 FÅA, Bore and Svea rearranged their Finland-Sweden passenger operations under the Silja Line marketing name, and Silja Line texts along with the famous seal's head logo was painted on the ship's hull. In autumn 1971 the Birger Jarl sailed for the last time on the Helsinki-Stockholm route; the following spring she was replaced by the new purpose-built ice-breaking ferries Aallotar (not be confused with the 1952 Aallotar) and Svea Regina. After that the Birger Jarl was used on cruise service between Stockholm and Mariehamn until spring 1973, when she was sold to the Steamship Company Bore -affiliated Jakob Line for services across the Bay of Bothnia.

The Birger Jarl was rebuilt with a small side-loadable car deck and renamed Bore Nord before entering service for Jakob Lines. During 1973 she served between Pietarsaari and Skellefteå but was apparently not fully satisfactory on this route, as she was to spend the next three years under various charters to Bore and Silja Line, as well a stint as an accommodation ship in Norway. For the 1977 summer season the Bore Nord again sailed on the Pietarsaari-Skellefteå route, but later that year she passed under Steamship Company Bore ownership as a part payment for the larger passenger steamer Bore. The Bore Nord was almost immediately resold to Minicarriers for a planned Stockholm-Mariehamn service and renamed Minisea (this name was never actually painted on the ship's hull). The planned service never materialized and the ship was laid up in Mariehamn.

In 1978 the Minisea was sold to Caribbean Shipping Company for conversion into the cruise ship Baltic Star. In 1979 she again started sailing on the Stockholm-Mariehamn cruise service, now under charter to Ånedin Linjen. Unusually for a ship serving on the Baltic Sea, the Baltic Star was registered in Panama. In 1982 the Baltic Star was refitted with a diesel engine at Fredrikshavn Værft. This engine was apparently not entirely successful as the ship suffered an engine failure just two months after the conversion and in 1989 she returned to Fredrikshavn Værft for the replacement of the old diesel engine with a second, more powerful one. In 1987 she had also been docked at Rauma where addition cabins were placed on the forward deck.

After spending almost quarter of a century under the name Baltic Star, in 2002 the ship was sold to Rederi AB Allandia and subsequently reverted back to her original name Birger Jarl. In October 2010 she was withdrawn from service due to the new SOLAS 2010 regulations. However, just a few days afterwards she recieved an exemption from the regulation that allowed her to continue sailing for at least six months. Earlier that year the Birger Jarl had been declared culturally valuable ("K-marked") by the Swedish states maritime museum. Whether or not this had an effect on her SOLAS exemption I do not know.

The photographs below show the Birger Jarl arriving in Stockholm on the afternoon of 9 February 2011, photographed from onboard Viking Line's Mariella. Click on the images to view full size.

A not very winterly-looking winter's day for some reason (though it was quite cold). My friend remarked the day was resembled more a spring day in April than February.
Notice that the ship still (again) carries Rederi AB Svea bow markings, despite having no affiliation with the now-disappeared company. I wonder if the S in her funnel is also a refence to RAB Svea's funnel symbol.
Passing Gröna Lunden amusement park en route to Skeppsbron.

1 comment:

  1. Videos of Birger Jarl: