Vard has secured a US$323m contract for the design and construction of a dual-fuel hybrid-electric cruise icebreaker for French cruise company Ponant. The hull will be built at Vard Tulcea in Romania and delivery is scheduled from Vard Søviknes in Norway, in Q2 2021. Developed by Ponant, Stirling Design International, Aker Arctic and Vard, the luxury polar expedition vessel called Ponant Icebreaker will be the first hybrid-electric cruise icebreaker with dual-fuel propulsion, featuring high-capacity batteries and LNG storage on board. It will weigh approximately 30,000 tonnes, measure about 150m (492ft) long, 28m (92ft) wide and have a cruise speed of 15kts (17mph) in open water. The Polar Class 2 icebreaker, which is designed to take passengers to polar destinations such as the true geographic North Pole, the Weddell Sea, the Ross Sea and Peter I Island, can accommodate 270 passengers in 135 staterooms, in addition to a crew of 180 people. The vessel will also be equipped with two helicopters in in-house hangars. This is a really exciting project for us, and we look forward to building the Ponant Icebreaker for polar expedition voyages, said Roy Reite, CEO and executive director of Vard. Vard has a deep experience in icebreaking technology; over generations we have built several highly advanced vessels developed for operations in polar areas. It is a pleasure to continue the excellent cooperation we have with Ponant, Stirling Design International and Aker Arctic. In addition to Ponant Icebreaker, Vard currently has four luxury expedition cruise vessels under construction for Ponant. The first vessel in the series will be delivered in Q2 2018, followed by delivery of the next three vessels from autumn 2018 to summer 2019.
Dean has been with UKi Media & Events for over a decade, having previously cut his journalistic teeth writing and editing for various automotive and engineering titles. He combines extensive knowledge of all things automotive with a passion for driving, and experience testing countless new vehicles, engines and technologies around the world. As well as his role as editor-in-chief across a range of UKi's media titles, he is also co-chair of the judging panel of the International Engine of the Year Awards.