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Italian shipbuilding group Fincantieri and the cruise division of MSC have signed a memorandum for the construction of two luxury cruise ships powered in part by hydrogen fuel cells.
The ships will be built for MSC’s luxury cruise brand Explora Journeys, which will bring its fleet to six new ships. MSC launched Explora Journeys in 2021 with plans to begin operations in 2023 with Explora I.
The companies also announced that two previously announced ships, Explora III and IV, will be LNG-powered and lengthened by 19 meters from the original design to accomodate the LNG systems. The redesign will push the ships’ deliveries to 2026 and 2027.
The two ships announced Wednesday, Explora V and VI, will be both LNG- and hydrogen-powered, featuring “industry-first” technology to tackle methane slip and allow for zero-emissions operations while in port. Hydrogen fuel will power a 6-megawatt fuel cell to produce emissions-free power for the hotel operation and allow the vessels to run in port with the engines turned off. Delivery of the ships is scheduled in 2027 and 2028.
The announcement today marks another significant step forward in our goal as a business to reach net zero emissions by 2050 across all our cruise operation for the two brands and a further proof of our commitment to invest in the most advanced marine environmental technologies available to develop sustainable solutions for the future,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of the Cruise Division of MSC Group. “This transition to zero emissions operations for the maritime industry is the biggest challenge that we will ever face, and this will only be achieved by everyone playing their part – by investing in research and development and through significant investment both by companies but also governments.”
The two additional ships covered under the memorandum of agreement (MOA) announced Wednesday will bring Explora Journeys’ investment in its fleet to €3.5 billion (USD$3.56 billion), including an additional €120 million (USD$122 million) each for fitting EXPLORA III and IV with LNG engines.
The signing of the contract under the MOA will be subject to financing.
“This is the very first major agreement for new construction after the pandemic emergency and testifies not only to the further growth of our long-standing partnership with MSC, which we thank, but also the confidence of both groups in the future of the cruise industry,” said Pierroberto Folgiero, Chief Executive Officer of Fincantieri. “These ships will allow us to implement cutting-edge technologies aimed at significantly improving environmental performance, laying the foundations for further developments”.
All six ships in Explora Journeys’ fleet will also feature the latest selective catalytic reduction technology to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 90 percent, shore power plug-in connectivity to reduce emissions in port, and underwater noise management systems to help protect marine life. All six will also have a comprehensive range of onboard energy efficient equipment to optimise engine use to further reduce emissions.
“Sustainability is the new craftmanship and we’re honoured to take a pioneering position within the industry and the wider travel sector,” said Michael Ungerer, Chief Executive Officer at Explora Journeys.
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