A new era in the Lithuanian shipping industry: construction of the first hydrogen-electricity powered ship has begun

  • 2024-06-22

A new page in the history of the Lithuanian shipping industry has been written today. The construction of the first hydrogen-electric ship in the state’s history has officially begun at Western Baltija Shipbuilding (WBS) commissioned by the Klaipėda State Seaport Authority. This ship, designed for waste management, will become a symbol of Lithuania’s progress and its commitment to reducing environmental impact. At the same time, this project testifies to the ability to bring professionals with a high level of competencies together for the implementation of innovative projects.

"I am glad that this modern vessel, which meets the highest environmental protection requirements, is being built in Klaipėda. This is extremely relevant and significant not only for Lithuania, but also on a global scale. In Lithuania, we have all the conditions to implement the most advanced maritime transport and infrastructure development projects. I hope this will provide a strong impetus for our shipping industry, leading to the production of more such vessels in our port city. This is also a great example of how our companies can promote innovation and set an example for the entire market," says the Lithuanian Minister of Transport and Communications Marius Skuodis.

According to current regulations, all ships arriving at or departing from the Port of Klaipėda are required to dispose of all ship-generated waste at a port reception facility. The Port Authority has been entrusted to provide a waste collection service. In order to further increase the quality of its service for waste collection from ships, the company has decided to use modern and environmentally friendly equipment to achieve this.

“The Port Authority has undertaken very ambitious projects in recent years. In a couple of years, the company will become the first one in Lithuania not only to produce green hydrogen, but also to have a hydrogen-powered ship. It will also clean other ships entering the port by collecting waste from them without leaving an environmental footprint. We are proud that a new, modern, and environmentally friendly tanker is being built not somewhere abroad, but here in Lithuania, at the Port of Klaipėda”, says Algis Latakas, Director General of the Klaipėda State Seaport Authority.

Today’s symbolic keel laying ceremony is an integral part in the ship building process. It marks the official commencement of construction works of a modern tanker for waste collection. The milestone has been traditionally marked by affixing a special plate, decorated with three coins, between the structures of the first block of the ship, which has already been built. The plate bears the names of the parties involved: the ship commissioning authority – the Klaipėda State Seaport Authority, the shipbuilders – the Estonian company, Baltic Workboats, and Western Baltija Shipbuilding.

“The realisation of this historically significant project, which generates a high added value, is a double success for us. First of all, we are building an advanced ship for our own country, Lithuania, which is an honour and a great commitment and responsibility. We are also implementing the project together with our Estonian partners, and this cooperation once again demonstrates a strong business partnership between the two countries. I have no doubt that by consolidating our competencies we will achieve the best possible result that will benefit Lithuania for many years to come”, states Arnoldas Šileika, CEO of the Western Shipyard (WSY) Group of Companies, which owns the subsidiary Western Baltija Shipbuilding.

The hull, superstructure, and wheelhouse will be constructed at the Western Baltija Shipbuilding at the Port of Klaipėda, along with the installation of cargo systems and other works. The Estonian company, Baltic Workboats is responsible for the installation of the main and auxiliary machinery, and the harmonisation and testing of all the ship systems. A hydrogen fuel cell system will be installed in Estonia as well.

“The project is a great milestone for the Baltic Workboats and we are extremely satisfied to be able to deliver such a modern ship to our Baltic neighbors in Klaipeda. It will be the first tanker type vessel ever built with Baltic Workboats participation and in addition to electric propulsion solution in which Baltic Workboats has extensive expertise it will be the first vessel to be fitted with hydrogen power plant in Baltic Workboats portfolio. We would also like to highlight the co-operation between us and Western Shipyard Group in building the vessel – by combining the expertise of the companies we are confident that the vessel will be modern and green addition to port of Klaipeda fleet”, stated Jüri Taal, Management Board Member of Baltic Workboats.

The main challenge for the shipbuilders is to design and build a ship for the collection of oily bilge water, sewage, sludge, and other waste. It will need to be equipped with waste collection tanks and an oily bilge water treatment plant that will treat the waste waters and transfer everything along with the sewage to the city’s onshore waste water treatment plant. It is envisaged that the ship will operate on a 24-hour basis.

The tanker, which is 42 metres long and 10 metres wide, will be able to collect 400 cubic metres of liquid waste. It will be equipped with two electric motors powered by batteries with a capacity of 2000 kwh and an installed on-board hydrogen fuel cell system. Depending on the intensity of works, the ship will be able to operate within the Port of Klaipėda for up to 36 hours on a single charge.

This ship building project with a total value of €12 million has been commissioned by the Port Authority, and is being built by Baltic Workboats, under a joint operating agreement with Western Baltija Shipbuilding. The ship is expected to sail in the waters of the Port of Klaipėda at the end of next year.