12 April 2011

Merilin, 25 August 2007


IMO 9194256
Built 1999, Austal Shipyard Henderson, Australia
Tonnage 920 GT
Length 52,60 m
Width 13,30 m
Draught 1,50 m
411 passengers
4 MTU diesels, combined 9 280 kW
4 KaMeWa waterjets
Speed 40 knots

The Merilin and her operator Linda Line are probably not that well known, so perhaps it's prudent to cover the history of the company as well as the ship here.

Linda Line was established in 1997 when Inreko and ESCO (Estonian Shipping Company), the owners of Tallink, decided to part ways. Inreko withdrew the three Ukrainian-built hydrofoils Liisa, Laura and Jaanika from Tallink services and they begun sailing between Helsinki and Tallinn under the newly-established brand Linda Line (if I remember correctly, Linda Line was at least initially owned by Inreko. However, I could find no affirmation of this so take it with a pinch of salt). In 1998 Linda Line sold the Liisa and continued sailing with just two hydrofoils until 2002, when they took delivery of a new Russian-built fast catamaran Linda Express, capable of an impressive 55 knots. The Linda Express was however plagued with technical problems and in 2004 she was sold to a Chinese operator under the name Shi Ji Kuai Hang. For the next two years Linda Line continued operating with just the Laura and Jaanika, until the chance came to acquire the fast German-owned catamaran Cat No 1.

The Cat No 1 had been built in 1999 by Austal for Schiffahrtsgesellschaft AGRNF 'Supercat' & Co. (marketed more simply as Cat No 1) for services from Cuxhaven and Eemshaven to various islands on Germany's North Sea coast. In December 2006 the Cat No 1 was sold to Linda Line and in spring 2007 she entered service on the Helsinki-Tallinn route as the Merilin, replacing the Laura. In 2009 the Merilin was joined by the similar but slightly smaller katamaran Karolin and the Jaanika too was sold. Since then Linda Line has become the sole survising fast ferry operator between Helsinki and Tallinn, the other companies with their slower ships having fallen to the increased competition by the fast conventional ferries of Tallink and Viking Line.

The photographs below show the Merilin in Helsinki's Eteläsatama (South Harbour) early in the morning of 25 August 2007, on the day's first departure to Tallinn. Photographed from onboard either the SuperSeaCat Three or SuperSeaCat Four. Click on the individual images to view larger size.

Reversing away from the quay, with Helsinki's Market Square and the Helsinki Cathedral in the background.
The red-dominant colour scheme is largely the same as the ship carried as the Cat No 1; the black stripes along the windows were originally blue, as was the white crescent-like shape on the side. As Linda Line traditionally carried a red-white colour scheme, not larger changes were deemed nescessary.
A nimble turn and soon the ship was off to Tallinn, trailed by ships of SuperSeaCat and Nordic Jet Line. With her 40 knot speed, the Merilin unsurprisingly got there before the others.

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