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Cruise Ship Completes Sea Trials, Overcoming Unique Obstacles

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Silver Origin underway - courtesy Silversea Cruises

By The Maritime Executive 05-20-2020 05:23:47

The new luxury cruise ship Silver Origin recently completed sea trials overcoming a long list of unique challenges in her construction. Dutch shipyard De Hoop, which is building the ship for Silversea Cruises, had to overcome not only the challenges created by coronavirus but also weather and other elements.

The sea trials held off the coast of Goeree-Overflakkee between April 27 and 29, including the first-ever remote operations and tests required by the restrictions in place across Europe due to COVID-19. 

"We usually have a large team that participates in the sea trials, but this year was different because of the extraordinary situation," says Vesa Uuttu, Director of Newbuilds & Site Office NL, Royal Caribbean Cruises. "Hence, a limited team participated—enough to comply with regulations."

Travel bans prevented sub-contractors from reaching the ship for its sea trials including for the critical test of the ship’s dynamic positioning system, which permits it to maintain its location without dropping an anchor. This is especially important for the Silver Origin, which will be operating in the ecologically fragile Galapagos Islands. 

As a result, the positioning system was remotely tuned and calibrated over the internet using headsets and cameras by technicians 1,800 km away in St. Petersburg, Russia. Onboard, the captain acted as the lookout during the maneuvering tests.

"This was the first time such an operation has been completed remotely during a sea trial," says Fre Drenth, the Director of De Hoop Shipyard. "The tuning was successful and took no longer than usual."

Trial team during remote tuning and calibration - courtesy De Hoop Shipyard

This was far from the only challenge De Hoop faced during the construction. Shallow waters on the Waal River delayed Silver Origin's float out, but heavy rains in Western Europe in early in 2020 prevented the Silver Origin from passing beneath the 12 bridges that separate De Hoop shipyard from the sea. She reached Rotterdam more than a month behind schedule just as the restrictions related to the coronavirus locked down Europe.

The global restrictions forced De Hoop to reduced its workforce, but approximately 200 employees - mainly skilled carpenters - remained at the shipyard, some living on-site, and coping with everything from daily temperature checks to social distancing that required video calls along with enhanced cleaning procedures to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the efforts. 

Canceled flights meant that contractors could not reach the yard as well as materials. One of the most severe supply chain issues came from the closures in Italy that disrupted the installation of the ship's windows and galley. 

The keel for the Silver Origin was laid on February 6, 2019. The finishing touches are now being applied ahead of the ship's delivery in the coming weeks and departure for her homeport in the Galapagos Islands. It is currently anticipated that she will enter service in the fall of 2020.

Key statistics

Tonnage: 5,800 GRT
Length overall: 101m
Beam: 16m
Registry: Ecuador
Max speed: 14 knots
Guest capacity: 100
Crew: 86

(Photos courtesy Silversea Cruises)