Hurtigruten Norway’s First Upgraded Hybrid Ship Returns to Service

Hurtigruten hybrid upgrades coastal shipping
Richard With returned to service after extensive upgrades to become a hybrid ship (Hurtigruten)

Published Sep 22, 2022 6:46 PM by The Maritime Executive

Hurtigruten Norway has placed in service its first environmentally-upgraded battery-hybrid powered ship, the 11,200 gross ton Richard With. It is the first vessel of the company’s Coastal Express service operating from Bergen north along the Norwegian coast to be upgraded in advance of Norway’s increasing environmental regulations. Hurtigruten reports it will be investing nearly €100 million (US$100 million) towards green upgrades that will be implemented by early 2024.

"With MS Richard With back in operations as a fully-upgraded ship, guests can sail the Norwegian coast on a quieter, state-of-the-art, and environmentally-friendly ship," said Hedda Felin, CEO of Hurtigruten Norway “Over the next year, all our seven Coastal Express ships will be upgraded to be more sustainable.”

Built in 1993, the Richard With is 400 feet long with a passenger capacity of 590 people and deployed on the coastal service she also has ro-ro capabilities to transport vehicles. The vessel arrived at the Myklebust Yard in northwestern Norway in February 2022 for the conversion that was scheduled to last approximately six months.

The green upgrades on Richard With included conversion to a hybrid ship with two large battery packs (1,120kWh each) and new, more efficient engines to reduce CO2 emissions while also providing increased redundancy and safety. New switchboards and power management systems were installed along with new control systems to minimize energy use throughout the vessel. 

Structurally the vessel was fitted with new propeller blades, a new bulbous bow, new gears, and a retractable stern azimuth thruster. The hull was also optimized to reduce drag while new boilers were fitted to improve heat recovery from main engines for reduced energy consumption used for heating. Both a new wastewater treatment plant was added as well as SCR systems that cut NOx emissions.

"This is one of the largest environmental upgrades of its kind in Europe and the largest in Hurtigruten's history. Becoming a green company means investing in efforts with documented effects, such as the ones we are doing now. As a result, by next summer, we will have three upgraded hybrid ships sailing the coast, and our entire fleet will be more energy efficient, cutting CO2 emissions by 25 percent and NOx by 80 percent," said Felin.

The Richard With departed Bergen on September 22 for its first trip after the reconstruction was delayed by an incident in early August. During her delivery run back from the shipyard, the vessel lost steering control and grounded requiring hull repairs before her return to service. 

Hurtigruten previously said that her sister ship, the Kong Harald, also built in 1993 and last refitted in 2016, would begin her conversion also at the Myklebust Yard once the Richard With returned to service. The plan also calls for the awarding of a contract to convert the third ship of the class, the Nordlys, to undergo a similar conversion before the summer of 2023.

All ships in Hurtigruten Norway's fleet already have shore power convertibility, and once the conversions are completed all Hurtigruten Norway's Costal Express ships will have emissions equivalent to Tier III. Hurtigruten Norway has also committed to using certified biofuels to cut CO2 emissions.