New boat will move more tourists faster

  • 2000-01-20
TALLINN (BNS) - The majority owner of Silja Line, Sea Containers,
will open a new fast boat service between Tallinn and Helsinki in
April, the company reported.

The boat to be put into operation on the route is the nearly 500
million kroon ($32.7 million) SuperSeaCat IV. The 100-meter long
vessel will take up to 752 passengers, 164 cars and four coaches.

The ship, to cover the 80 km distance between Tallinn and Helsinki in
90 minutes, will be sailing under the Italian flag, Sea Containers
said. In the summer season it will make four round trips a day.

Sea Containers will establish a subsidiary in Estonia to operate the
ship and is now negotiating with Silja Line concerning opening a
sales office in Helsinki.

As a hydrodynamic innovation, the ferry uses a T-shaped underwater
runner, which operates on the principle of an air cushion and
simultaneously acts as the stabilizer. This will make it possible to
achieve an average speed of 37.8 knots or nearly 42 miles an hour
between Tallinn and Helsinki.

"We are sure that in the forthcoming season, the number of passengers
will grow on the route, thanks to the increased speed, frequency of
crossings and good service, Sea Containers Vice-President David G.
Benson said.

The 6 million passenger market has been increasing at the rate of
300,000 to 400,000 a year, and the share of fast ferries will
presumably grow faster than that, he added.

Sea Containers operates three sister ships of the SuperSeaCat IV in
the Irish Sea and the English Channel.

Competition among fast ships on the Tallinn-Helsinki route has
steadily toughened in the past few years.

Last spring the Hansatee shipping line launched a large catamaran,
the Tallink Autoexpress, which can take up to 586 passengers, 150
cars and travels at speeds up to 36 knots, between Tallinn and

At present, Hansatee is planning the purchase of another large
catamaran and give up its small catamaran, Tallink Express I.

Also Nordic Jet Line, which began sailing between Tallinn and
Helsinki in 1998, put a second catamaran into operation last spring.
Its Nordic Jet and Baltic Jets can carry up to 430 passengers, 55
cars and two coaches each.

Also Lindaliini AS operates on the sea route between Tallinn and
Helsinki with two fast boats of an older type.