The debate on climate targets, carbon footprints and pollutant emissions has now also reached the field of shipping. While large cruise liners are currently faced with a lot of criticism, the AG Ems shipping company has for some time now used liquefied natural gas (LPG) for its ferry service. Following on from the »Helgoland«, a recently built ship operating on the Cuxhaven‑Helgoland route, the shipping company transformed the »Ostfriesland«, and is now set to transform the »Münsterland« which operates as the Borkum ferry.
The work involved in the refit is enormous, as indicated by the costs which amount to 17.5 million euros. In order to realise the increased space required for fuel and the propulsion system without restricting the passenger capacity, the stern of the ship was completely rebuilt together with its propulsion system and the ship was lengthened by 18 metres. The time lost for the ferry service had to be kept to a minimum therefore the stern which already has a length of 39 metres is to be pre-manufactured and assembled at the Koninklijke Niestern Sandern BV shipyard in Delfzijl (Netherlands). The ship will only enter the dock after this work is finished. In the dock the old stern will then be removed and the front part will be joined to the new stern.
The chairman of AG Ems, Dr. Bernard Brons, did not question the work involved: »As a first mover we want to use this second refit in our Borkum fleet to send a further signal for sustainable environmental friendliness in the maritime sector.«
The refitted ship is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent, reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by at least 90 percent and decrease fine dust pollution to almost nothing. The clean air zone of Borkum will benefit from this and ferry passengers will have a more comfortable trip. There will be space for approx. 15 further cars, two new saloons, and a large sun deck. Therefore, in the course of the transformation, the gastronomy will also be reorganised and a lift will be installed to provide more comfort for passengers with limited mobility.
The project has received federal funding to support the LNG technology. Leinemann Partner has been appointed as an external awarding office by the shipping company to ensure that the procurement requirements for the funding are implemented. The managing director of the successful shipping yard, Wietse Holmann, also offers praise: »The negotiation were long, but due to fair and open discussions we were able to arrive at a good result.« The preparations for the new construction of the stern have already started. In the autumn of 2020 the MS Münsterland will be removed from service. If all goes according to plan, the extensively modernised ship will resume its ferry service in the spring of 2021.