The country is in the process of placing an order for a fifth ferry that will operate between the islands beginning in 2026. The new vessel between the major islands and the mainland will be capable of transporting more vehicles and will be zero-emission.
The design concept for the new ferry that the state is planning to purchase has been finalized. It will be a hybrid vessel mainly powered by hydrogen and electricity.
The new vessel will be somewhat larger than the four new generation ferries currently in operation. The latest ferry will carry the same number of passengers, 700, as the current ferry, but 50 more vehicles, so 200 vehicles.
This is not the only characteristic that will distinguish the new ship from its predecessors. The ferry's project manager at the Transport Administration (Transpordiamet), Valentin Bratkov, told ERR that the vessel will have two vehicle decks and be emission-free.
"The energy sources will be diverse, including batteries and fuel cells, and as a result, the ship's energy efficiency will be significantly more environmentally friendly, and it will release zero-emission. Also, the level of autonomy will increase, the number of technical crew members will decrease, etc.," Bratkov listed.
The ferry could sail on both the Rohuküla-Heltermaa and Virtsu-Kuivastu routes.
The tender for the design and construction of the ship will be announced in the second half of this year, Bratkov said.
The target date for launching it is 2026, he said. "We will know for sure when the ship has been completed and tested. However, the plan is for the ship to be launched in 2026."
TS Laevad OÜ currently owns four of the newest vessels: the Tõll and Piret sail between Saaremaa and the mainland, and the Tiiu and Leiger between Hiiumaa and the mainland. All four vessels have a capacity of 700 passengers and 150 vehicles and started passenger services in 2017.
Another TS Laevad ferry, Regula, is much older than the new generation ones; it was built in 1971 and started sailing between the main islands in Estonia in 1997.
Editor: Kristina Kersa