Western Baltija Shipbuilding (WBS) has implemented a significant project for the Western Shipyard (WSY) Group, the port city and Lithuania as a whole: a turnkey project for building the ferry for Smiltynės Perkėla has been completed.
On Friday, 23 July 2021, the newly built ferry was officially given Klaipėda name. Olga Žalienė, the long-term Head of the Lithuanian Maritime Museum, was chosen as the Godmother of the ship, and Mindaugas Butilkinas, Captain of inland waters, as the Captain of the ferry.
Ingrida Šimonytė, Prime Minister of the Republic of Lithuania, honoured the ceremony with her visit. She wished the ferry serve the people smoothly and thanked the customers and builders for their contribution made not only to the Lithuanian economy but also the global economy, as well as for showing thought for the development of environmentally friendly shipping.
‘We are very proud of our country’s public and private capital companies creating products in Lithuania that can be envied by all. That is the companies with know-how and the ability to both design and create high value-added products for turnkey projects. Today we are here to celebrate an exceptional event. The ship to be given a name has to be baptized to protect it from rigours and dangers at sea. The history of this ship starts here and now, and I believe that you have been the creators of many such histories so far, and perhaps, you are involved in creating them as partners while being an integral part of the global world and global creativity. It is truly gratifying that the Klaipėda ferry meets the highest environmental protection requirements. This is especially important. All of Europe, the major countries of the European Union, are aware of the consequences of climate change. Each new solution that allows us to achieve a greater sustainability is a big step forward. I take pleasure in saying ‘thank you’ to everyone who contributed to the construction of this ship both with their own hands and with their ingenuity. I wish you the best of luck and a favourable wind,’ said I. Šimonytė.
During the solemn ceremony, the customers and builders of the ship were also congratulated by Marius Skuodis, Minister of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Lithuania. According to him, by designing and building ships, we are opening up new opportunities for development of the Lithuanian marine engineering industry.
‘Being here today, at the name giving ceremony of the new Lithuanian ferry, we can be proud of our companies. It is especially gratifying that the new ferry for Smiltynės Perkėla was built not elsewhere but in Klaipėda. It is a great example of cooperation between the state, the city, and businesses, showing the development of our maritime ambitions through real work. The fact that we are building new ships that sail with our country’s tricolour is what strengthens further our image of a maritime state, the fleet itself, and maritime traditions,’ said the Minister of Transport and Communications at the ceremony.
The 6.5 million-euro contract for the construction of the universal passenger/freight ferry was signed between Smiltynės Perkėla, AB and WBS in May last year, and the construction work started in September. The design of the ship was developed by Western Baltic Engineering, another company of the WSY Group.
The 60m long and 14m wide ferry will be able to carry up to a thousand passengers, or at least forty cars and six hundred passengers, or eight trucks with a total weight of up to 44 tons each. The ferry will operate at both the New and Old Ferry Terminals.
Valdemaras Vaičekauskas, Chair of the Board of Smiltynės Perkėla AB, stated that the new ferry joining the ranks of the ships will further improve the quality of services provided by the company, which will result in the growing volume of work as well. The company’s strategy also includes investments in the development of environmentally friendly shipping and the improvement of infrastructure.
‘It is symbolic that the Klaipėda ferry was designed and built by a shipyard operating in Klaipėda. This is a significant contribution to the improvement of local transport, the creation of community well-being, and the economy of our country. We say ‘thank you’ to the shipbuilders for their competence and professionalism. Guided by the principles of sustainability and green practices, we also have thoughts of building an electric ferry in the future. We will continue to improve the quality of passenger service: already this autumn, the capacity of the terminal will be expanded to 10 lanes, while the reconstruction of quays and the construction of a new passenger service building are scheduled for the next year. We plan an investment of up to 20 million euros in the improvement of passenger and transport service infrastructure over three years,’ said V. Vaičekauskas.
Arnoldas Šileika, CEO at the WSY Group, thanked the customers for their trust, and the employees for their earnest work and efforts in implementing the project important not only for Klaipėda but also for the whole country.
‘The order submitted by Smiltynės Perkėla, AB to the companies of the WSY Group is especially important, as well as it has provided an opportunity for our shipbuilders to realise their professional ambitions. Now we will have an opportunity to see with our own eyes how a ferry, that has been created and built in Klaipėda through the effort of people of Klaipėda, runs in the port city carrying passengers. I hope that the Klaipėda ferry will serve our customers, Smiltynės Perkėla, AB, durably and reliably, while safely connecting the shores of Klaipėda and Neringa,’ said the CEO of the WSY Group.