• 2021 March 1

    Helsinki Shipyard: the model of international cooperation

    With its new owners, Helsinki Shipyard got a new development impetus and involvement in cooperation with the Russian partners. In his interview with IAA PortNews, Helsinki Shipyard CEO Esko Karvonen tells about the company’s activities including construction of Arctic-class cruise ships.

    - The shipyard is building three Arctic class cruise ships: What is the schedule for their launching and delivery? 

    - The first of these cruise ships, SH Minerva, will be launched in the beginning of Summer 2021 and delivered in Autumn 2021. The second ship of these series will be launched in Autumn 2021 and delivered in the first months of year 2022. The big sister of these two first ones, NB 518 will be launched in Spring 2022 and delivered in Autumn 2022.

    - What are their main particulars and specific characteristics?

    The two first 113-meters long vessels ordered from the shipyard will carry after their delivery 152 passengers and provide a spacious 5-star accommodation for the guests in 76 spacious cabins and suites, the vast majority with large balconies. The onboard team of 120 crew members will provide the highest levels of personal service for the guests.

    The vessels will feature a 4,6, MW diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system and selective catalytic reduction to reduce environmental impact. Gross tonnage of the vessels is 10 560 ton and they have PC5 ice-strengthened hull.

    New build 516 and her sister NB 517 are designed for extreme weather conditions, from polar areas with quite heavy ice conditions to tropical regions. And they are naturally designed to respect the sensitive ecosystems of the regions where they are going to sail.

    The third vessel, NB 518 will feature a 4,6-megawatt diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system with selective catalytic reduction, 3-megawatt max. battery package and PC6 ice-strengthened hull. At 125 m LOA, the 12,000-GRT vessel has been specially designed to explore the most inspiring and inaccessible places on the planet.

    Providing spacious 5-star accommodation for 192 guests in 96 spacious cabins and suites, the vast majority with large balconies. The vessel will be operated by an onboard team of 140 to provide the highest levels of personal service.

    - What is your opinion about the design quality? Has it been revised during the construction?

    - The interior design has been developed in a close cooperation together with the owner’s architect and it represents modern Scandinavian design.

    - The cruise liners' interiors are supplied from Saint-Petersburg. Why have you opted for Russian suppliers?

    - We are constantly sourcing suppliers globally, having well proven references, high quality and competitive price structure. Geographical closeness to our shipyard in Helsinki is also one important criteria for selection in order to avoid long transport chains and to make our inspection arrangements easier. Saint Petersburg, where we have found a high quality furniture supplier, is only 3-4 hours from Helsinki. The supplier we have selected has also a good track record on delivering equipment to vessels owned by our group.

    - Could you please say what are the key suppliers of ship equipment

    - We are using World-class, global suppliers offering extensive service, maintenance and spares network in order to satisfy our customers throughout the entire lifecycle of their vessel.

    - Has the shipyard’s financial status changed throughout the years of new management? What has driven the results?

    - Helsinki Shipyard Oy started its operations as a new company and with new owners in May 2019.

    New management has been developing the company with clear and determined steps by building the organization, focusing on improving the critical points in the shipbuilding process and defining the strategy for the next three years. Shipyard competitiveness is in the core of the strategy and there is a clear way forward.

    Our capabilities to deliver world class products in our three segments (Ice breaking vessels, Cruise ships, Super Yachts) and cover the whole delivery chain from engineering and procurement to the construction is well known in the market. With these actions and new orders the financial situation is stabilized and results are profitable.

    - What are the shipyard’s development and modernization plans for the coming years?

    - In order to stay competitive, our shipyard has to have leanest processes in the industry. We are training our people to reduce waste and embed continuous improvement mindset to the whole staff.

    Modernization investments are depending on the vessel types we will build in the future. The facilities today, fully meet the demands on building medium cruise vessels or ice breakers and thus no major modernization is needed. To have flexibility in our dry dock we have been investigating alternatives which enable us to speed up the hull erection phase. When such need arise, we are  ready to react fast.

    On development side we are focusing on our working processes and software supporting the processes. We have introduced a new software which enables us for better logistics control throughout the shipbuilding process.

    - What other projects, apart from the Arctic cruise ships, are in the shipyard’s order portfolio?

    - The shipyard has a long tradition and unmatched expertise in designing and building of high quality passenger vessels, cruise-ferries, icebreakers and other types sophisticated special vessels. Currently we are exploring the expansion of our offering portfolio to superyachts.

    We at Helsinki Shipyard consider ourselves a Boutique type shipyard designed to provide results to high demand customers requiring highly personalized services in a way that others can’t.

    We are a shipyard dedicated to building premium segment cruise vessels. Our covered facilities and competitive production methods are well suited for building high-quality oceangoing vessels.

    - What is the number of the shipyard’s employees? How do you recruit and train the personnel?

    - Helsinki Shipyard Oy currently employs 420 persons. We have more than 280 persons working directly with current ships under construction and over 140 persons working in design, naval architecture and support functions. When the production in full swing, the amount of persons working in the yard rises up to 1000 persons.

    Our location in Helsinki enables us to hire the best talents from universities and institutes situated in the capital of Finland. We employ 15 students year around to different projects and give them an opportunity to familiarize themselves into shipbuilding. Many of our professionals have worked at shipyard starting from years of studies.

    After Helsinki Shipyard Oy started on May 2019 we have been fortunate to have back many people that have been working with us previously, also our open positions published on our website have been collecting good candidates for us.

    Although, we have very good vocational and academic basic education in Finland and we organize internal trainings as well as offer specialized training for our employees, shipbuilding is learned profoundly by working in the shipbuilding projects. We make sure all new shipbuilders at Helsinki Shipyard have a more experienced mentor to guide them through their first projects.

    - What, in your opinion, are main workable mechanisms for financing large shipbuilding orders today: bank crediting, diverse leasing instruments, state programmes, EU programmes?

    - Financing is always a topic in the ship building industry. It can be either competitive advantage or in the worst case a deal breaker. Current covid situation is of course causing extra challenge for the industry at the moment and requires us to find and select correct new projects from the market.

    Helsinki Shipyard as a medium/small size shipyard has been working hard with the owners to create the needed financial facilities and partners. This work will certainly continue and we are also interested to find new partners and especially new innovative solutions.


    By Vitaly Chernov


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