VESSEL REVIEW – Klaipeda – Lithuanian operator takes delivery of locally-built connector ferry

Photo: Anfimov

Lithuanian transport company Smiltynes Perkela has taken delivery of a new double-ended passenger and cargo ferry from local manufacturer the Western Shipyard Group.

The Bureau Veritas-classed vessel was christened Klaipeda after the port city of the same name on Lithuania’s Baltic Sea coast. The ferry, however, is designed specifically to operate on inland routes and is being utilised mainly on the 0.5-kilometre-wide stretch of the strait that sits between mainland Klaipeda and the village of Smiltyne on the Curonian Spit. Due to the short distance of the route, each one-way trip lasts only about four minutes.

Measuring 60 metres long and 14 metres wide, Klaipeda has an ice-strengthened steel hull, an aluminium superstructure, and the ability to carry up to a thousand people in passenger-only configuration. Alternate loads will consist of 40 cars and 600 passengers, or only eight lorries weighing up to 44 tonnes each. The spacious main deck can also accommodate passengers with bicycles, and loading and unloading will be done through four ramps, two of which will be for vehicles.

Photo: Anfimov

Klaipeda is also slightly larger and has a greater carrying capacity compared to the three older vessels in the Smiltynes Perkela fleet. In passenger-only configuration, the new ferry can carry 300 more people compared to the second largest vessel in the fleet. It also boasts improved access for wheelchair-bound passengers, including in some of the onboard toilets, as well as a changing room for mothers traveling with small children.

The propulsion arrangement includes two Caterpillar main engines and two diesel generators. Operational trial sailings showed that the new ferry is also more manoeuvrable compared to the owner’s other vessels.

The WSY Group’s subsidiaries Western Baltic Engineering and Western Baltija Shipbuilding were responsible for the design and construction of Klaipeda. The ferry was built from the outset to be a one-off vessel, having been designed specifically to operate on the short distance between its namesake city and Smiltyne. This will help provide an uninterrupted cross-strait transport service for the more than two million passengers and 700,000 vehicles that pass through that same route each year.

Photo: Smiltynes Perkela

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Type of vessel:Ro-Pax ferry
Classification:Bureau Veritas
Owner:Smyltines Perkela, Lithuania
Designer:Western Baltic Engineering, Lithuania
Builder:Western Baltija Shipbuilding, Lithuania
Hull construction material:Steel
Superstructure construction material:Aluminium
Length overall:60 metres
Beam:14 metres
Capacity:40 cars
Main engines:2 x Caterpillar
Other equipment installed:4 x ramps
Type of fuel:Diesel
Accommodation:Toilets; changing room
Operational area:Klaipeda and Smyltine, Lithuania

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