SHIP REVIEW | Kvitbjørn – Fast Hybrid Boat for Norwegian Arctic Tour Operator

Marell Boats of Sweden has delivered a new high-speed day trip boat to Norwegian company Hurtigruten Svalbard.

Kvitbjorn (“Polar Bear”) is the result of a collaboration between Hurtigruten Svalbard, Marell, and engine manufacturer Volvo Penta on a pilot project to test new electromobility technology in an area known to have some of the environments the most extreme seas.

The new excursion boat is 14.9 meters long and can accommodate 12 people. A spacious aft deck allows for comfortable spotting of wildlife. During transport, passengers are seated safely and comfortably in double seats with seat belts.

The boat uses an existing Marell design that was originally developed as an interceptor vessel for maritime security missions, hence the inclusion of strong canvases and longitudinal framing that allow for high-speed navigation even in rough seas. The 21 degree deadrise at the rear, a well shaped and slender front body and longitudinal strakes ensure that riding in high waves is made comfortable and high speed turns are executed safely. Additionally, the craft runs dry at all times, with all spray directed to the side of the boat, keeping the windshield and deck clean from the water.

The boat has four watertight compartments to meet the safety requirement of single compartment flooding. All decks are self-draining and equipped with non-slip surfaces. The boat also comes with a full set of mooring lines, anchor and fenders.

Photo: Hurtigruten Svalbard

Like the other Marell boats, Kvitbjorn comes with a central cockpit, inherited from racing and piloting operations. The central position of the helmsman gives full and optimal control during boarding and advanced maneuvers. The navigator sits alongside the helmsman in an ergonomic cockpit configuration required for high-speed transits in all weathers, day or night.

Power is provided by a Volvo Penta twin D4-320 DPI hybrid solution which delivers a top speed of 32 knots and a cruising speed of 25 knots. This will allow the vessel to operate even in sub-zero temperatures with an extended range of 500 nautical miles.

Propulsion provides additional maneuverability ideal for slow cruising when viewing wildlife. Volvo Penta said the hybrid drive will also help ensure near-silent operation, creating a more enjoyable experience for tourists and wildlife. The propulsion system also allows the operator to easily switch between driving modes, improving efficiency and comfort on board.

As the vessel will operate in extreme temperatures, the on-board batteries are equipped with an integrated heating and cooling system which maintains the temperature of the batteries at 15 degrees Celsius. The system can achieve this without having to circulate seawater, thus avoiding icing.

The boat’s electronic suite also includes a Garmin radar.

Kvitbjorn arrived in Svalbard in April 2022 and has since embarked on her first commercial voyage from Longyearbyen. All operational journeys will last three to four hours.

The new boat will operate for more than 1,000 hours during the tourist season from May 1 to October 31.

Photo: Volvo Penta

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Vessel type: excursion boat
Flag: Norway
Owner: Hurtigruten Svalbard, Norway
Manufacturer: Marell Boats, Sweden
Total length: 14.9 meters
Main engines: 2 Volvo Pentas D4-320
Maximum speed: 32 knots
Cruising speed: 25 knots
Interval: 500 nautical miles
Radar: Garmin
Crew: 2
Passengers: 12
Operational area: Svalbard, Norway