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Finnlines crew, Shipyard

The Engineers Present: What Is so Fascinating about Shipbuilding?

The construction work on Finnsirius and Finncanopus progress according to schedule. Our experienced shipbuilders Juha Ahia and Pasi Väänänen share the latest news from the shipyard and reveal the superpowers of the Superstar ships.

Finnsirius and Finncanopus float side by side at the dock. They are crowded with a thousand dock workers on the busiest days. There is quite a lot of buzz at the construction site. As planned, Finnsirius is slightly more ahead as for construction than its sister vessel. The project is in an intriguing phase as smoke puffs out from the chimney on Finnsirius occasionally; this indicates testing of the main engines, i.e. dock tests are underway.

Juha Ahia and Pasi Väänänen – Ship Engineers at Work

We found Finnlines’ marine engineers Juha Ahia and Pasi Väänänen in the engine room of Finnsirius. They are visiting the Weihai shipyard for an inspection. Juha is project manager of the Superstar newbuildings. He represents Finnlines and is responsible for the Superstar project, starting with the technical contract material and ending with the delivery of the ships.

– My job includes negotiations on technical details, drawing approval, possible changes, and supervision of shipbuilding. The new construction project is not a one-man show; the project has been led by a shipbuilding team of a few people. In addition, a technical consultant and an interior designer have been involved in the project. The construction supervision at the shipyard is outsourced. Include in my work were the negotiation of required changes at the ports of Naantali and Kapellskär regarding our Superstar ship project.

Pasi, on the other hand, started working with Finnsirius and Finncanopus as a project engineer. In his role he participated in e.g. drawing approval. Pasi also approved the tests of the equipment and component manufacturers on site at their factories in Europe.

In the beginning of the current year, Pasi started as a technical inspector for Finnsirius and Finncanopus, a role in which he now supervises the ships at the Weihai shipyard.

– My responsibility is to bring the Superstar vessel siblings Finnsirius and Finncanopus to operational condition towards the end of the construction phase. In the future, I will also be responsible for the operation of the ships in good and close cooperation with both the passenger services and other Finnlines’ departments.

Juha Ahia is project manager of the Superstar newbuildings. He started at Finnlines in 1996 with FG-Shipping, then the handling company of Finnlines. By education, Juha is a marine engineer (Helsinki University of Technology 1990).
Pasi Väänänen works as a technical inspector at the Superstar newbuilding. He joined Finnlines in 2019 for the newbuilding project of the Finneco vessels. Pasi is a marine engineer by education (Kymenlaakso Academy of Arts 2005).
Finnsirius (upper) and Finncanopus are floating side by side at the shipyard in Weihai, China. Occasionally, smoke wafts from the stack of Finnsirius as its main engines undergo testing. The vessels are planned to commence operation on the Naantali–Kapellskär route during 2023.

Colleagues of Steel and the Magic of the Newbuilding Vessels

When we asked about what the perks of the jobs were for the engineers who work on the newbuilding projects of the Superstar vessels, Pasi spotlights his colleagues.

– The best thing about my job is definitely my colleagues with a great sense of humor, whose professionalism is not only iron but pure steel! Building and commissioning the ships in line with Finnlines’ completely new concept is something so unique that there is no difficulty to get up to work in the mornings. Every day we face new situations and plans are adjusted as needed. Work is very dynamic, which I really like.

When asked what the best thing about his job is, Juha answers quite quickly and briefly.

– Developing the new vessel building projects.

This is easy to believe in Juha’s case, as Finncanopus is the nineteenth new ship building as project lead for him. Juha’s life work has been building new ships from drawings to ready constructed ships.

The Outdoor Jacuzzi and the Hybrid System as Superpowers

The Superstar ships are larger and more technologically advanced compared to the previous Star class. We already introduced the ship’s features to some extent in an earlier blog post, but now that technical super experts are present, we have to ask: “What features of the Superstars vessels would the ship engineers make worth mentioning?”

Pasi smiles. – As technical inspector I should probably present some really special technical finesse, but my favorite part of the future Superstar ships is definitely the outdoor jacuzzi in the spa area!

Juha also emphasizes the importance of passengers:

– Finnlines has invested significantly in the development of passenger traffic. The Superstar vessels are proof of a clear improvement in services and cabins offered to passengers.

Great answers, but let’s return to the technical qualities of the Superstar ships specifically from the engineer’s point of view. What would you, Juha and Pasi, emphasize?

Juha begins:

– The Superstar vessels have several new features compared to the older Finnlines ships. One significant and invisible technical upgrade is the two-speed reduction gears. In traffic between Naantali and Kapellskär, the maximum speed is a good 16 knots. Due to the two-speed reduction gears, a high propulsion efficiency is achieved both at 16 knots and at around 20.5 knots, which is the top speed of the Superstar vessels.

In practice, a good efficiency means lower fuel consumption and thus less emission.

– It is interesting to see how much we save fuel and reduce emissions with the latest hybrid technology and the air lubrication system on the hull, Pasi continues.

That’s how we get to one of the super features of the Superstar vessels: Its hybrid system. The ships will have a high-power shore supply operating at medium voltage, which will help reduce environmental emission at port. The batteries of the Superstar ships can be charged with shore electricity during normal port visits in Naantali and Kapellskär. Onshore electricity enables emission-free port calls because auxiliary engines are not needed to produce electricity.

The energy charged to the batteries is used during the sea voyage to reduce the required amount of electricity to be produced by the generators. In principle, batteries also enable short-term power generation by the ship’s propulsion system without the main engines. In practice, the Superstar vessels could therefore be operated a short distance solely on battery power.

Juha Ahia presents the battery room on Finnsirius. As soon as the Superstar vessels operate regularly, the batteries will be charged with shore power in the ports of Naantali and Kapellskär during normal port calls.
The model of the main engines of the Superstar vessels is Wärtsilä 6L46F. There are four of them on each Superstar vessel.

Test Drive in May

The buzz at the Weihai shipyard continues. Marine engineers Juha Ahia and Pasi Väänänen continue their work with the dock tests on Finnsirius. When the dock tests are over, it is time for the crucial sea trial in May – it’s just around the corner! The sea trial is a crucial milestone, marking the inaugural voyage of a new ship under its own engine power – one of the most significant moments in its early journey. The dock tests for Finncanopus will start as soon as the necessary installations are done.

Important milestones in shipbuilding do not end with sea trials. Find out about other milestones in shipbuilding and what memorable moments the Superstar vessels have already provided.

Finnsirius and Finncanopus are sister vessels and are expected to serve on the Naantali–Kapellskär route for likely years to come. A group of steel-hearted engineers is constructing these superstars, while at the same time, Finnsirius and Finncanopus are steel-clad colleagues embarking on a shared journey!

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