Norway-based cruise operator Hurtigruten has signed a letter of intent with Rolls-Royce for upgrading the main engines of up to nine ships from diesel to gas power propulsion.

Under the deal, Rolls-Royce will also provide a hybrid battery system.

Six existing passenger cruise vessels operated by Hurtigruten will be equipped with the new Rolls-Royce liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuelled engines as part of the deal, which also includes an option for three additional vessels.

Under the agreement, Rolls-Royce will provide two of its Bergen B36:45L&PG gas engines as the main engines to each of the Hurtigruten ship.

The company will also provide its new electrical power SAVe Cube system, which is designed with a single integrated drive switchboard for the whole vessel.

Following the upgrades, the ships will be able to cut their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by around 25%.

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“The combination of battery packs with environmentally friendly and effective gas engines in the market will provide a huge gain for the environment.”

Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam said: “This is an investment for the future, and a historic day for us, for the environment and for the whole, long Norwegian coastline.

“The combination of battery packs with the most environmentally friendly and effective gas engines in the market will provide a huge gain for the environment.”

Recently, Hurtigruten secured various licences from the Norway Government to operate its vessels on the country’s seven out of 11 coastal ferry routes.

The year-long operations are required to follow the government’s directive to reduce CO2 emissions on the route between Norway’s Bergenand Kirkenes. The entire route has 34 stops.

With the proposed upgrade, Hurtigruten intends to operate its current fleet on the route and meet the government’s environmental directive.

Rolls-Royce product sales and advanced offerings vice-president Astrid Opsjøen said: “Hurtigruten is planning an upgrade with our newest and most environmentally efficient engine, powered by natural gas.

“This is another great innovation from our engine factory in Bergen, where we have more than ten years of experience of powering ships purely by gas.”