Tokelau is said to be essentially three low atolls mid way between New Zealand and Hawaii and seeing the Hansen designed ship taking shape to serve this tiny atoll territory, has reminded me of my adolescent dream to work on South Sea island schooners.
Even as late as the 1950s, these ships still served between beautiful islands in seemingly exotic trades. It may not have been as idyllic as it looked but the schooners were a magnifi cent means of transport in their day.
Tokelau is a non-self-governing territory of New Zealand making steps toward self government. The population is only about 1,380, there is no airstrip or wharf and a small ship from Apia on Samoa is the territory’s main means of communication. PB Matua is the current vessel, but she is to be replaced by the new 500gt Mataliki which will take nearly 24 hours at 11.5 knots to cover the 270 miles. She will carry up to 60 passengers in addition to 50 tonnes of cargo and supplies, lo-lo by crane to barge at the atolls. Tokelau takes environmental considerations very seriously. It might eventually disappear through sea level rise from global warming, and solar charged battery banks will provide electrical power for the ship’s essential services including air conditioning during hours of darkness. Apparently, wind assistance is also under consideration. Note she is building in Bangladesh at Western Shipyard.
Hansen, with Canadian design partner Fleetway Inc, is also closely involved with the needs of the Newfoundland and Labrador government. The keel was laid last August at Damen Group’s Romanian yard of a $51-million ice breaking ferry, an 80m ro-ro to serve year round to Fogo from Newfoundland.
She will have a capacity of 64 cars and 200 passengers at 14 knots, or 4 knots in sea ice. With delivery later this year, she will replace an ageing Capt Earl W Winsor which has suffered many breakdowns. A similar new vessel for the Bell Island service, has also been contracted for delivery next year.
Staying with potentially inhospitable waters, I reported in last November’s Ferry World an order for the two ferries to be built in Alaska by Vigor Industrial at Ketchikan. They have been designed by the US Elliot Bay Design Group and Rolls-Royce is to provide a large element of the propulsion systems.
Unsurprisingly, the artist’s impression of the ships bears a resemblance to the slightly smaller Canadian ship. They are jointly contracted to cost $120 million.
It will be interesting to see how that works out as some critics of the US Jones Act, whereby internally operating ships in the US must be US built, manned and owned (see Tugs and Tows), complain that US built ships can be 5 times the cost of equivalent vessels sourced world-wide.