The first fast ferry in the world for passengers and cargo powered by natural gas internal combustion engines, Baleària’s Eleanor Roosevelt, was launched last Friday at the Armon shipyard in Gijón. This innovative ship is scheduled to begin operations in the first quarter of 2021. It is the first of its type in the world, involving the participation of leading international companies and an investment budget of 90 million euros.
“For Baleària, the Eleanor Roosevelt represents the culmination of the efforts of all our teams to create the first catamaran powered by gas engines, a real milestone in terms of sustainability and innovation,” declared the company’s president, Adolfo Utor. Mr Utor likewise emphasised that the ship “is fitted with new developments to adapt to the current health crisis, taking into account the distance between seats, wider gangways and digital transformation to guarantee greater safety”. For his part, Armon president Laudelino Alperi, highlighted that the construction of the fast ferry “is a historic milestone for the shipyard”, thanking Baleària for “the trust they are placed in us to take part in this innovative, world-first project”.
Digital transformation of services and on-board comfort
Technological innovations have been fitted to make this a smart ship: passengers can board using a QR code they receive via WhatsApp, indicating their assigned seat number; during the crossing they will have access to the Internet and WhatsApp for text messages, along with free use of a digital entertainment platform from their mobile devices, and will also be able to see their pets via the web cams installed in the kennels. The interior design emphasises wide, open spaces and distancing between seats. On-board comfort has also been improved thanks to a cutting-edge stabiliser system which will considerably reduce movement. Noise and vibration levels will be minimised thanks to an elastically floating superstructure and the installation of high-tech insulation. The ship will also be fitted with an escalator and lift leading to the upper deck, features never before seen on a ship of this type.The Eleanor Roosevelt will also be longer than any other fast ferry in the world. The ship measures 123 metres from bow to stern, with a beam of 28 metres, capacity for 1,200 passengers and space in the hold for 500 lane metres of trucks and 250 cars, or otherwise 450 cars.
Ship monitoring in real time
Baleària has fitted the Eleanor Roosevelt with equipment capable of keeping track of actual fuel consumption and calculating engine efficiency. The sensors installed will likewise provide real-time information to allow efficient sailing and adjustment of both speed and course to increase comfort depending on sea conditions. This is the shipping line’s third vessel to be fitted with such a monitoring system, which forms part of the Baleària control tower project, using big data to reach agile and efficient decisions regarding aspects of safety, preventive maintenance, commercial efficiency and emissions.
Efficient power and speed
The four Wärtsilä dual natural gas/diesel engines, each delivering 8,800 kW of power, allow Baleària’s Eleanor Roosevelt to attain a service speed of 35 knots (with a top speed of over 40 knots). The LNG storage tanks provide a range of 400 nautical miles when sailing under gas power (1,900 with gas/diesel in combination).
Tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt
The name of Baleària’s new ship, Eleanor Roosevelt, is a tribute to the writer, gender equality activist and champion of the civil rights of African and Asian citizens in the US, and Second World War refugees. Roosevelt played a key role as the first president of the UN Human Rights Commission, and as one of the driving forces behind the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is the shipping line’s sixth vessel to pay tribute to pioneering women in their respective fields, in accordance with its commitment to one of the sustainable development goals: gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Construction of this eco-efficient fast ferry began in December 2018 at the Armon shipyard in Gijón, which coordinated the project and performed the systems engineering, with the support of the Cotenaval engineering practice from Valencia. Australia’s Incat Crowther were responsible for the design; the engines, propulsion system and gas plant were manufactured by Wärtsilä of Finland, while the channel testing was undertaken by Norway’s Marintek-Sintef, and Bureau Veritas is the classification society. The architectural and interior design is courtesy of the firm Oliver Design and interior designer Jorge Belloch.
Natural gas pioneers
The Baleària fleet strategy involves an investment of 380 million euros in 9 ships capable of sailing by gas power. The use of this fuel considerably reduces emissions (with an immediate improvement in air quality and the greenhouse effect), as well as reducing noise pollution. In specific terms, CO2 emissions are cut by 30%, NOx by 85%, and sulphur and particles are eliminated.