“Fire danger” sees Havila ban electric and hydrogen vehicle transport on two RoPaxes

Havila Kystruten, which operates a coastal passenger service in Norway aboard its fleet of recently-built RoPax ships, has announced that it will exclude electric, hybrid, and hydrogen vehicles from its vessels because of the fire risk.

The company is currently operating its first two cruise ships, which were designed to also transport a limited number of vehicles and cargo as part of a contract with the Norwegian Ministry of Transport to provide a coastal service. Two additional ships, for the voyages between Bergen and Kirkenes, are due to enter service this year, thus completing the fleet.

Havila said that it had requested an external assessment regarding the transport of cars and motor vehicles on board the company’s coastal cruise ships based on its experience with the first year of service, and to explore the potential dangers.

Management consultancy Proactima AS was retained to carry out the risk analysis. Bent Martini, managing director of Havila, said that “this is a pure safety assessment, and the conclusion of the risk analysis shows that a possible fire in fossil vehicles will be able to be handled by the systems and the crew we have on board,” said, adding that “a possible fire in electric, hybrid or hydrogen cars will require external rescue efforts and could put people on board and the ships at risk.”

Havila noted that their ships were each outfitted with battery power systems, but that the battery packs were installed following current requirements for fire safety on ships, including isolation in separate, fireproof rooms, with specific fire protection systems.

The company said that it would continue to transport fossil-fuel cars, but they have decided to limit the boarding and disembarking of private vehicles to Bergen and Kirkenes only, but not at intermediate ports on the route. They said they would make exceptions for service vehicles for personnel who are doing necessary work on board the company’s ships and for emergency vehicles.

The company noted that its contract with the government did not mandate the transport of vehicles. It also noted that the ships had a limited capacity which they had to make available for the contractual carriage of other cargo.

Havila said that testing during the past year had shown that it was experiencing challenges in some ports, based on variations in the tide, and that Havila did not wish to risk damage to either vehicles or the ships when handling private vehicles.

The company said that it would continue to explore future options to provide transport options for alternate power vehicles.

Meanwhile, Hurtigruten has made a different call. It said that it would continue to allow all vehicle types. Shipping companies Viking Line and Ålandstrafiken recently stated from Finland that electric vehicles and hybrids were allowed on their ships as long as there was no risk of battery damage.