Miami-based cruise giant Royal Caribbean Cruises has signed a memorandum of agreement with the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland for two LNG-powered cruise ships.
The approximately 200,000 gross ton cruise ships are expected to be delivered in 2022 and 2024. The ships, under the project name “icon”, will also use fuel cells as a clean and efficient means for generating electrical power.
“With Icon class, we begin the journey to take the smoke out of our smokestacks”, said Richard Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.
“Our partnership with RCL has created a number of groundbreaking ships such as Oasis, Celebrity Solstice, Quantum and Mein Schiff,” said Jan Meyer, CEO of Meyer Turku Oy. “We are grateful that Royal Caribbean engages with us in a new challenging journey to advance the state of maritime technology with a new class of cruise ships. Our common aim is to develop fuel cells to a level that allows their usage in a significant application to power the ship’s hotel functions.”
With the new orders, Meyer Turku has secured its order book until 2024, “substantially beyond Turku yard’s all-time-high work load during Oasis/Allure times in 2007 – 2009,” the shipyard said in a statement Tuesday.
Meyer Turku says the eight year long horizon creates an opportunity for the shipyard, owned by Meyer Werft of Germany, and the entire Finnish maritime cluster to invest and develop their capabilities with a long-term strategy aimed at advancing technology. Since current technology and regulations are not yet ready for maritime fuel cell use, various pilot installations on other Meyer-built RCL ships will act stepping stones for the fuel cell installation on Icon, according to Meyer Turku.
“This historically long and high-load order book enables us to modernize Turku ship yard into a modern data-driven ship factory and grow it to a new level 50% above the all-time-high,” said Jan Meyer.
Meyer Turku has so far announced 75 million euros worth of investments in the Turku yard, which Meyer Werft purchased from STX Finland in 2014 with help from the Finnish Government. In 2015, Meyer Werft bought out the Finnish government stake to attain a 100% ownership in the yard.
More investments are coming, too. Meyer Turku says in addition to the machinery and IT systems of the yard, the family owned company is also investing heavily in people and will increase the number of employees from around 1,300 in 2014 to 1,800 in the future. The total employment effect including the many specialized subcontractors is estimated to be larger than 15,000.
“This is a very interesting time for the shipyard’s specialists – as we are recreating the way we work and advancing our product technology. I’m very proud of the level of competence of our Finnish team and we are further strengthening our team with more skilled personnel from many different fields of expertise”, Jan Meyer added.