Valmet Corporation's Helsinki Shipyard recently delivered its first passenger vessel, the Birka Princess, built for Birka Line Ab of Mariehamn, Finland. The new liner, which replaces the ferry Prinsessan that was built by Wartsila in 1966 and modernized in 1980, will operate unique 24-hour cruises from Stockholm to Mariehamn on the island of Aland, situated between the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia.

Unlike the numerous passenger/ car ferries operating in the Baltic, the Birka Princess is a true cruise liner. She has only a small car deck at the stern that will accommodate six motor coaches and 50 private cars, or 75 cars, with access via a side ramp.

The new liner has an overall length of 469 feet, beam of 81 feet, depth to Deck 11 of 100 feet, and draft of 18.4 feet. Main propulsion is provided by four Wartsila-Vasa diesel engines with a total output of 23,600 bhp at 750 rpm, driving two KaMeWa controllable-pitch, highly skewed propellers via Valmet/Renk reduction gears. Cruising speed is 18 knots.

The accommodations, which provide for 1,500 passengers in 500 cabins, are of unusually high quality.

This was achieved by skillful detail work, careful selection of materials, unique lighting systems, and other refinements. Passengers can view the impressive Stockholm archipelago and the Aland Sea through special panorama windows in the a-lacarte restaurant and dancing restaurant aft, as well as in the cocktail lounge and one of the large conference rooms forward.

The principal design considerations for the Birka Princess were economical operation, safety, easy maintenance, and a high level of automation. Machinery is controlled by Valmet's Damatic ship automation system. The company's other units are also well represented among the suppliers; the Tampere Works provided the six passenger and service elevators, and the reduction gears were supplied by the Rautpohja Works.

In cooperation with the Finnish company Rakennusvalmiste Oy, Valmet developed a totally new cabin construction method, with cabin wall elements completely fabricated at the factory. The units were fitted with all needed details, including furniture fastenings, plumbing, and electrical wiring. The partition wall between cabins is comprised of two PVC-coated steel sheets backed by a 15-mm layer of mineral wool, with a 40-mm air gap between. This insures the best possible sound insulation between cabins.

The main navigation equipment in the spacious wheelhouse is concentrated in a cockpit type desk, making it possible for one man to control the navigation of the ship in a sitting position. The radar system is from Racal-Decca; it comprises one 10-cm ARPA radar that is interswitched with a 3-cm true motion unit.

The ARPA radar antenna is installed on the mast atop the wheelhouse, with the 3-cm antenna on the radar mast on the forecastle deck. In addition, there is a third independent 10-cm radar with a true motion display and an antenna atop the wheelhouse. Other navigation equipment includes a Raytheon DSN-450 dual-axis doppler speed log, a Simrad ED 61 echo sounder with a digital repeater, and an Anschutz Standard 4 gyrocompass.

The partially enclosed lifeboats supplied by Fiskars have a total capacity of 536 persons. The 62 davit- launchable life rafts supplied by Viking each have a capacity of 25 persons. All lifeboat and life raft davits are equipped with a remote control for the brake.

For additional information on Valmet's shipbuilding facilities and capabilities, Circle 49 on Reader Service Card

Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 76,  Jun 1986

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Maritime Reporter

First published in 1881 Maritime Reporter is the world's largest audited circulation publication serving the global maritime industry.