On Thursday, April the 8th, the hull blocks connection ceremony of the new ferry for Smiltynės perkėla took place. This event marked the beginning of a new stage in the construction of the ship. According to Western Baltija Shipbuilding (WBS), who carries out the construction work of the ferry, the ship will be launched already in July.
Smiltynės perkėla signed a 6.5 million euro contract for the construction of the ferry with WBS, a company of the Western Shipyard (WSY) Group, in May last year, and the construction work started in September. The whole project, starting with the design of the ship up to its construction and delivery to the customer, is performed by the Lithuania-based companies of the WSY Group.
Smiltynės perkėla ferries are special ships
‘Smiltynės perkėla ferries are special because they are the most popular ships, carrying the largest quantities of people in the country. We are glad that one of them has been built by the WBS team. Shipbuilding is a complex globally competitive business and most of the ships we build are delivered to Scandinavia, Germany and other countries. Therefore, every ship that remains in Lithuania gives us additional joy,’ says Arnoldas Šileika, CEO of WSY Group.
‘The flow of passengers moving via the lagoon is constantly growing, and so is our responsibility to passengers. Over 2 million passengers make use of the services of Smiltynės perkėla ferries annually, as well as we transport over 700 thousand vehicles. The new ferry will undoubtedly improve the quality of our services,’ states Mindaugas Čiakas, General Manager of Smiltynės perkėla.
Based on the order of Smiltynės perkėla, WBS is building a 60 m long and 14 m wide universal passenger/cargo ferry. The ferry will be able to carry up to a thousand passengers or at least 40 vehicles and 600 passengers, and will have modern equipment that meets the highest safety and fire safety requirements. The uniqueness of the project is determined by the fact that the ferry is not a ship of serial production but a ship built according to the specific needs of Smiltynės perkėla, AB. The ferry is scheduled to operate at both the New Ferry Terminal and the Old Ferry Terminal.
The traditional Keel-Laying Ceremony that took place on Thursday marks a new phase in the ship’s construction process. During it, a plate with the names of the customers and builders of the ship together with two coins of the respective countries (in this case, euro coins with depictions of Vytis, a symbol from the emblem of the Lithuanian State, on the obverse) are welded in between the ship’s sections to be connected.
Western Baltija Shipbuilding (WBS) is the largest and most powerful shipbuilding company in the Baltic States. Together with another 20 Lithuanian companies, it forms the Western Shipyard Group, employing 1,800 people. Last year, the turnover of the Western Shipyard Group totalled 110.4 million euro. Turnkey coastal patrol, research, multifunctional and fishing ships, ferries and cruise ship blocks built by WBS are exported to Germany, France, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, Denmark and other countries.
WBS, being engaged in the construction of a German coastal patrol vessel at the moment, has previously built Mintis, a turnkey research vessel for Klaipėda University; Gitte Henning, the first fishing vessel of Independent Lithuania; Wind Lift-1, a 103 m long vessel that was one of the first ships for building and servicing offshore wind farms in Europe; as well as has implemented many other momentous projects.