When they had the opportunity of building a ship from scratch, the key words for the Peterson brothers in Västra Frölunda were functional, easy to work aboard and environmentally friendly. Today, eleven years later, they say that the decision was financially worthwhile.
When BRP Shipping’s CEO, Mattias Peterson and his two brothers had their first chance of ordering a new ship in the 2000’s, they knew what they wanted. As fourth-generation ship-owners with their own experience at sea, they had a clear idea about what was needed to create good working conditions.
Only Swedish crew
”We wanted it to be functional so that people could concentrate on the right things – loading and unloading,” says Mattias. ”They should not have to worry about too much else.”
The first ship, Fox Sunrise, was ready in 2005 and three years later her sister ship, Fox Luna, was completed. By making things easier for the crew (see article on page 1), it is possible to keep down the number of employees. This means they have been able to keep the Swedish flag and a Swedish crew.
”Normally there are ten men on a ship of this size, but thanks to its design we manage with seven and still have time to do more. We will continue with a completely Swedish crew as long as we can,” says Mattias.
Cost no obstacle
Mattias Peterson is honest about the extra costs of all the special solutions BRP chose for their ships, compared with conventional designs. Money, though, was not the major obstacle to doing what they wanted.
”You can always calculate economics in different ways, but looking at the ship’s entire lifespan, I don’t think that it is any more expensive than conventional ships.
Of course, it made things easier when Stena believed in us and signed a five-year charter with the first vessel.”
What was a problem, on the other hand, was finding a shipyard that could deliver what they wanted. The order finally went to a shipyard in Vestnes, Norway.
”The Norwegians were not at all as expensive as we had expected and they knew exactly how to build diesel-electric. They had loads of subcontractors and were brimming with expertise,” says Mattias.
Regulations, authorities and banks were also a worry.
”Many of the regulations are from the 1960s and 1970s. They don’t allow for innovation or modern technical solutions, and this is an area that continues to make things difficult for us,” says Mattias.
He tells us about an issue that came up recently in connection with one of the company’s ships that was going to start on a new route along the Norwegian coast. The Swedish Transport Agency demanded that separator purification should be installed to reduce the amount of oil in the bilge water to 15 ppm per cubic metre of water, which is the limit value for bilge water that is pumped overboard. BRP’s ships all have completely closed systems where all oil mixed with water is pumped ashore, but no consideration was given to that.
”We don’t want to pump any oil into the sea, yet they still want us to install a separator,” says Mattias.
To the question of whether they are considering building a new ship, Mattias answers every day. Exactly which solutions they would like include on board would depend on the ship’s commissions and routes, he says.
”Building a ship that is halfway good for most things provides no added value for the ship owners, those working on board or the cargo owners.”