Battery-hybrid MS Fridtjof Nansen about to dock in her new homeport of Longyearbyen, Svalbard for the very first time. PHOTO: Oclin/Hurtigruten Expeditions

New Battery-Powered Expedition Cruise Ship Named ‘Next to the North Pole’

Mike Schuler
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September 14, 2021

A newbuild hybrid battery-powered expedition cruise ship belonging to Hurtigruten Expeditions has been named in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, making history as the northernmost naming ceremony for a passenger ship.

The naming of the new MS Fridtjof Nansen in Svalbard is significant because it’s the location where Hurtigruten founded expedition cruising back in 1896.

“We are thrilled to celebrate more than 125 years of exploration and adventure travel where it all began. We couldn’t be prouder acknowledging this important milestone by naming this engineering marvel at the spot where our founder Richard With pioneered modern-day expedition cruising,” said Hurtigruten Group CEO Daniel Skjeldam.

The naming ceremony for the new MS Fridtjof Nansen, named in honor of the polar explorer, took place in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, often dubbed “next to the North Pole” at latitude 78 North.

Replacing the traditional bottle of champagne with a chunk of ice, the ship’s godmothers Hilde Fålun Strøm and Sunniva Sørby broke the ice over the vessel’s bow with a quote from the famed polar explorer Roald Amundsen, from when he named polar ship Maud in 1917:

“It is not my intention to dishonor the glorious grape, but already now you shall get the taste of your real environment. For the ice you have been built, in the ice you shall stay most of your life, and in the ice, you shall solve your tasks,” they said.

“By naming this unprecedented ship after Fridtjof Nansen, on Svalbard, we pay tribute to him as an explorer and a scientist and to the rich arctic legacy of Hurtigruten Expeditions,” said Hurtigruten Expeditions CEO Asta Lassesen. “We also salute our long-lasting relationship with the Svalbard community. This small-sized, battery-hybrid powered expedition ship will explore all waters – and she will do so proudly calling Svalbard home.”

Alongside her sister ship MS Roald Amundsen, the world’s first hybrid battery-powered cruise ships are with large battery packs and other green technology making them the most environmentally friendly expedition cruise ships in the world. The 140-meter-long ships come in at 20,889 gross tonnes and were built at Kleven Yards in Norway. The ships have a cruise speed of 15 knots and are rated at Polar Class 6, allowing them to operate in medium first-year ice in summer and fall.

“Exploration is who we are. We will always explore. Today is a very special day for me and all my colleagues onboard this magnificent ship. We are thrilled to welcome guests onboard MS Fridtjof Nansen to co-explore the remote corners of the globe with us – and wholeheartedly committed to explore in the most sustainable and respectful manner,” said Captain Bent Ivar Gangdal, Master of MS Fridtjof Nansen.

Marking another first, MS Fridtjof Nansen will also be registered in Longyearbyen, Svalbard.

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