Hurtigruten Builds All-Electric Excursion Vessels


Published May 14, 2019 9:42 PM by The Maritime Executive

Norwegian expedition cruise operator Hurtigruten is building a battery-powered boat for shorter excursions on Svalbard, the Arctic archipelago east of Greenland.

Hurtigruten has partnered with the Norwegian startup Brim Explorer to design an electric passenger catamaran for polar operations. Beginning next spring, the 24-meter vessel will operate daily ocean excursions from Longyearbyen, Svalbard, operating under the Hurtigruten Svalbard brand.

With large battery packs, the new hybrid catamaran will be one of the world’s most flexible electric vessels, Hurtigruten says: It can carry up to 140 people and operate on batteries for 10 hours at a cruising speed of 10 knots. The designers claim that it can be recharged at virtually any port.

"Brim and Hurtigruten found each other through our common passion for the oceans. Their vision to change the way people experience the Arctic is a perfect match to our bold sustainability ambitions. We firmly believe the future of travel is emission-free," Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam said.

Brim Explorer’s first vessel - similar to the excursion boat for Svalbard - is currently under construction in Norway. Beginning in August 2019, she will carry Hurtigruten guests around the Lofoten Islands in the summer and on Northern Lights outings based in the Arctic capital of Tromsø in the winter. 

"We have created the first sightseeing vessel in the world able to operate a full day on electric power, and we look forward to using our knowledge to move the travel industry in a greener direction together with Hurtigruten," said Brim Explorer co-founder and CEO Agnes Árnadóttir.

The explorer catamarans will also be fitted with hydrophones and underwater drones from another Norwegian startup already partnering with Hurtigruten – Blueye Robotics. Their drones will be introduced to several of Hurtigruten’s expedition cruise ships, as well as all Brim Explorer vessels. 

The partners will also work on integrating solar panels with the electric driveline to exploit the 24-hour Arctic sun to charge the batteries while sailing. They are also looking at developing renewable energy stations in smaller ports for recharging the vessels.