LNG-powered ropax christened in Finland

Car and passenger ferry Aurora Botnia will embark on its maiden voyage on 28 August 2021 and will then operate a daily service on the route between Vaasa, Finland and Umeå, Sweden.

The vessel’s delivery was delayed slightly, with owners Wasaline citing the need to comply with pandemic-related restrictions while thoroughly testing some of the vessel’s pioneering systems.

Built by Rauma Marine Constructions, Aurora Botnia can operate on battery power, LNG or biogas. Wasaline said the vessel is designed to utilise battery power in harbours and in port to reduce both emissions and noise. The vessel will operate its main generators primarily with liquefied natural gas (LNG), according to the company, but it has been designed to operate on biogas, as well, which Wasaline described as "one of the most realistic alternative fuels in the near future".

"It is of paramount importance for both the customer and the environment to build ships that stand the test of time. The ships we build today must also be able to operate in decades’ time without massive modifications or, at worst, scrapping. Aurora Botnia’s ability to utilise biogas is one way to meet this challenge," Rauma Marine Constructions chief executive Jyrki Heinimaa said.

The ship is the first car and passenger ferry in the world to meet the criteria of the Clean Design class notation. Construction of the car and passenger ferry Aurora Botnia began in September 2019 and the ship’s keel was laid in February 2020.

The build project took two years, cost €120M (US$141M) and had an employment impact of around 800 person-years, Wasaline said.

"We’ve had a wonderful opportunity to build such a magnificent vessel, which is totally unique even from a global perspective. I would like to thank the client for their excellent co-operation, which has enabled us to successfully complete the project, despite the very challenging conditions," Mr Heinimaa said.

"I would like to thank everyone involved in this project, especially our staff, who have made this possible. We are now seeing the result of years of work and witnessing a historic day together: a ship designed for Kvarken will start operating. Aurora Botnia is the most environmentally friendly large ropax ferry in the world, and its degree of domestic origin exceeds 80%,” Wasaline chief executive Peter Ståhlberg said.