The fine aluminium products of Estonia-based Baltic Workboats (BWB) feature frequently on Baird Maritime. That is because the company builds plenty of boats that are invariably innovative and of the highest quality.
These particular examples of their work are for the Estonian Navy and are excellent examples of the builder’s “out-of-the-box” thinking. If you look carefully at the review, you will see these craft overflow with innovative touches.
“Roland and Risto are very compact and well equipped for vessels of this size class,” BWB told Baird Maritime. “These craft have every feature you would expect from a navy vessel – a 12.7-millimetre machine gun on a remote weapon station (RWS), two 7.62-millimetre light machine guns, ballistic protection of strategic areas, and a gyrostabiliser.”
The builder added that the boats’ size and top speed of over 30 knots mean they are highly agile and suited for coastal areas with narrow, shallow waterways. They are also ideal vessels for supporting and complementing the larger ships in the Estonian Navy.
BWB said that although the newbuilds are similar to other patrol vessels with regards to structure and concept, it nonetheless proved challenging to integrate all the military navigation, communication, and weapon systems into one platform to guarantee the best possible functionality. To achieve this, the builder implemented an integrated automation, monitoring and control system (IAMCS) that was developed in-house.
“With IAMCS, we can be flexible and create solutions while also taking specific vessel requirements and customer preferences into account. For this and other navy vessel projects, Baltic Workboats have acquired a weapon handling permit meaning that we can install and test the weapon systems during HAT and SAT before delivery.”
BWB remarked that shipbuilding, as in other fields, is gravitating towards sustainability and environment-friendly concepts. This in turn means that shipbuilders and equipment manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to make building and operating the vessels more economical. The builder then cited some indications of this growing trend in the industry.
“For instance, from the beginning of 2021, all vessels delivered to Baltic and North Sea operators needed to be IMO Tier III-compliant to drastically reduce NOx emissions. In addition to diesel engines becoming less polluting, it is also almost standard nowadays that vessels have to be built with hybrid propulsion systems that also make fully-electric operation possible for low-speed sailings. This is especially true among ferries and liner vessels making short crossings.”
The builder added that the next decade will likely see a drop in vessels with diesel fuel-based propulsion whereas the numbers of vessels running on electricity, hydrogen, and other alternative fuels will continue to grow and eventually dominate the market.
BWB considers 2021 as “another successful year” for business, as indicated by the delivery of 13 vessels and an annual turnover of just under €40 million (US$45.5 million).
“Besides Roland and Risto,” the company told Baird Maritime, “there were also deliveries of three 30-metre electric ferries to a Kiel Canal operator and a 12-metre heavy duty interceptor RIB to the Estonian Police and Border Guard. As for orders, we secured contracts for a 45-metre patrol vessel, a 30-metre fully electric catamaran ferry, and a 26-metre patrol and search and rescue (SAR) vessel.”
With these figures, the company believes 2022 will promise to, “be as busy and positively challenging as the last couple of years have been.”
BWB sees that in the maritime security industry, automation and “smart” systems are becoming more and more important each year.
“We see that there is an increase in interest in autonomous vessels and operations and so we are heavily investing into that particular field. To that end, we have been developing a multi-functional autonomous navy vessel of about 40 to 50 metres LOA, which would be ideal solution for the navies of smaller countries while also serving as an ideal vessel for supplementing the larger ships of bigger navies.”
Along with autonomous vessel operations, the need to reduce environmental footprint has been identified by BWB as a factor currently influencing the direction being taken by the Baltic Sea workboat industry. Among the steps taken by the company to achieve this is the installation of 5.9MW wind turbines to provide electrical power for its shipyard facilities.
“This means we can produce all the energy needed for production on-site by tapping a renewable energy source,” the company told Baird Maritime.
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