Hurtigruten Names New Hybrid Ship at Arctic Port of Svalbard

Image credit: Hurtigruten
Image credit: Hurtigruten

Published Sep 15, 2021 12:58 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Tuesday, Hurtigruten Expeditions celebrated 125 years of operation with the naming of a hybrid battery-powered ship at the location where its expedition cruising began in 1896. 

The naming for Hurtigruten's Fridtjof Nansen took place at the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. Named after a famed Norwegian polar explorer, it is the first cruise ship ever to be registered in Longyearbyen, Svalbard. The event made history as the northernmost naming ceremony for a passenger cruise ship. 

The Nansen was delivered in December 2019, but her cruising debut was delayed due to the pandemic. In the interim, she played a supporting role in the filming of the blockbuster Mission Impossible 7, providing berthing for the cast and crew. 

“We are thrilled to celebrate more than 125 years of exploration and adventure travel where it all began. We couldn’t be prouder acknowledging this important milestone by naming this engineering marvel at the spot where our founder Richard With pioneered modern-day expedition cruising,” said Daniel Skjeldam, Hurtigruten Group CEO.

The new vessel and her sister ship, MS Roald Amundsen, are the world’s first hybrid battery-powered cruise ships. They have a cruising speed of 15 knots and are rated at Polar Class 6, allowing them to operate in medium first-year ice during the summer and fall. Hurtigruten says that Fridtjof Nansen’s small size, combined with strengthened hull and green technology, allows the ship to explore waters where few other ships can go.

Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen were built at Kleven Yards, a Norwegian shipyard that previously specialized in offshore vessels. The Amundsen's delivery was delayed for a year due to difficulties in construction, and Hurtigruten bought full ownership of the yard in 2018 in order to ensure the two vessels' successful completion. In January 2020, shortly after Fridtjof Nansen delivered, Hurtigruten announced a deal to sell Kleven to Croatia's DIV Group.

The naming of the Fridtjof Nansen comes just weeks after Hurtigruten resumed revenue cruise expeditions, ending a long hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The line attempted to restart expedition cruising in July 2020, but it quickly shut down again after an outbreak on board Roald Amundsen.

Hurtigruten came under intense scrutiny from Norwegian regulators for its handling of the incident, and an independent investigation found that management failings raised the odds of an initial infection and delayed post-incident reporting to authorities. "What the report describes is not good enough. This is not how Hurtigruten should be. I want to apologize for these failings," Skeldjam said in September 2020.