Following the Norwegian government’s budget negotiations, allocating sufficient start-up funds, Norway’s Stad ship tunnel has been approved to start construction by the end of 2021 and to open by 2025.
What is being called the world’s first ship tunnel, will burrow through the Stadhavet peninsula and interconnect western Norway. The tunnel will be 1.7 kilometers (1.06 miles) long, 37 meters high, have a width of 36 meters and is estimated to cost NOK 3.45 billion (approx GBP 296 million / USD 420 million).
According to the Stad ship tunnel organisation, the tunnel will allow for safer and more efficient sailing past Stadhavet, known for its highly dangerous and rough seas. Stadhavet is said to be the most dangerous stretch of sea along the Norwegian coast.
Due to unpredictable wave conditions, waves of up to 30 meters high can come from different directions at the same time, creating critical situations for vessels. Following such weather, heavy waves can remain for several days, resulting in difficult sailing conditions, even on quiet days.
Commercial shipping benefits
The tunnel is expected to be greatly beneficial to commercial shipping, allowing for safer transportation of goods, better quality retention of raw materials, shorter wait times to pass through the area and overall shorter delivery times.
Many types of current vessels are reported to be capable of passing through the tunnel including fishing vessels, bilge well vessels, service vessels, container ships, and cruise ships. Although, according to Forbes, while most ships in the coastal voyage fleet will be able to fit in the tunnel, many other cruise ships will be too large.
The organisation behind the project claims that the Stad ship tunnel will reduce stress on land transportation systems for goods by moving to the new sea route via the tunnel. Such a move will apparently greatly benefit Norway’s fisheries and aquaculture industries. According to Forbes, Norway already exports seafood to more than 150 countries and the Norwegian seafood industry is predicted to have rapid growth in the foreseeable future.
The organisation behind the project also claims that the tunnel will reduce CO2 emissions.
Alongside commercial gains, it has been commented that the Stad ship tunnel could have a positive effect on general business development and tourism for the region.
Among new possibilities now open for discussion, is the possibility to establish a new continuous cruise ship route between Bergen (a city on Norway’s southwest coast) and Ålesund (a port town on Norway’s west coast).
As the ship tunnel has gained a lot of international attention, it has also been commented that such a route would allow for better access to various tourist attractions dotted throughout the region, not to mention the tunnel being a tourist attraction itself.
The Stad ship tunnel would also allow for daily commuting by boat between municipalities north and south of Stad.
All things considered, the opportunities presented by the tunnel would create new employment options, which in turn would help to further develop the region, not to mention the surplus of material yielded from digging through roughly three million cubic meters of rock (according to CNN) could be used towards the economy.
Although the Stad ship tunnel is an intriguing project which could boost Norway’s economy, it should be noted that the construction of the tunnel will most likely involve removing some buildings.
Ship tunnel control
The Stad ship tunnel organisation has mentioned that the tunnel will be free of charge to sail through. The tunnel’s speed limit does not appear to be official, but as an example the speed limit for cruise ships is expected to be set to eight knots, meaning it will take ten minutes to pass through the tunnel.
They have also explained that the tunnel’s traffic will be remotely controlled from a center in Fedje and traffic will be managed by allocating passage times to boats. They have said that commercial traffic will be a priority, especially cruise ships. However, pleasure boats and other vessels will also be able to utilise the tunnel.