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Keel laid for SH Minerva, first of two Swan Hellenic newbuilds

Traditional coin laying ceremony at Helsinki Shipyard (left); video link allows Swan Hellenic's Andreas Zito to join the keel laying
The keel-laying ceremony for the first of Swan Hellenic’s two new ice-class expedition cruise ships took place at Helsinki Shipyard on Thursday morning.

This saw the first 347-ton block of the ship - newly arrived from Klaipeda, where it had been outfitted and painted - being set on the keel over coins respecting maritime custom. 

Swan Hellenic announced during the ceremony that the ship would be called SH Minerva in honour of the iconic company’s first purpose-built vessel, named after the Roman goddess of creativity and wisdom.

Swan Hellenic CEO Andrea Zito declared there could be no more fitting way for the relaunched company to take Swan Hellenic’s pioneering spirit back onto the waves. 

Video link for Zito

The ceremony took place in the presence of Helsinki Shipyard Inc. CEO Carl-Gustasf Rotkirch and Project Manager Jonas Packalén, together with Zito, participating via video link due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Ice-strengthened hull

SH Minerva will feature a 4.6-megawatt diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system with selective catalytic reduction, 3-megawatt max. battery package and PC5 ice-strengthened hull. At 113mtr, the 10,500gt ship has been specially designed to explore the most inaccessible places on the planet, noted Swan Hellenic.

Providing accommodation for 152 guests in 76 spacious cabins and suites, the vast majority with large balconies, SH Minerva will be operated by 120 crew.

Packalén explained: ‘Newbuild 516 and her sister NB 517 are designed for extreme weather conditions, from polar areas with quite heavy ice conditions to tropical regions. And they are naturally designed to respect the sensitive ecosystems of the regions where they’re going to sail.’

Building ships with great history

Rotkirch remarked: ‘We are very happy to have been able to invite our workers back, engaging them in this exciting project. Now we can do what we know best - designing and building ships with a great history behind them and an even greater future ahead. These vessels for the iconic Swan Hellenic are inspiring us, and I hope the customer feels that.’

Zito congratulated the assembled team for successfully achieving an ambitious schedule, thanking the Helsinki Shipyard, Robert McFarland, Tillberg Design and V. Ships teams for their support.

‘We’re excited and honoured to take Swan Hellenic into this next chapter and look forward to meeting you on board when we head to Antarctica in November 2021,’ he concluded.