Keel Laying Ceremony for MS Viking Grace at STX Finland Turku Shipyard
Work on Viking Line’s new passenger ferry, the M/S Viking Grace, is proceeding as planned. The keel laying ceremony is taking place today, March 6, 2012, at the STX Finland shipyard in Turku.
The vessel will be launched in mid-August. It will go into service in January 2013. There is heavy interest in the new vessel, and many people have already booked voyages on the M/S Viking Grace, which will serve the Turku – Åland Islands (Finland) – Stockholm (Sweden) route.
Laying the keel – a new vessel is born
The keel laying ceremony is an old tradition that is intended to bring good fortune to a new vessel. At this ceremony, the first section of the vessel is lifted down into the construction dock. Nine coins minted in 2012 are being placed under the first section of the M/S Viking Grace. These coins are from the Suomenlinna (Sveaborg) series, including EUR 2, EUR 1, 50 cent, 20 cent, 10 cent, 5 cent, 2 cent and 1 cent denominations plus a commemorative Suomenlinna mint medal. Suomenlinna, a historic former naval fortress in Helsinki harbour, is a popular tourist attraction today.
When the hull is completed and the vessel is ready for launching, the coins are moved and welded in place under the vessel’s radar mast.
The keel laying is a way of celebrating the completion of the first section, around which the other sections will be assembled to create a finished vessel. At the same time, it is recognized as an official event; from this day onward, the vessel must fulfil all rules, laws and regulations in force on the keel laying date, which can thus be regarded as the vessel’s “date of birth”.
The ferry will begin scheduled service on January 15, 2013. A maiden voyage, which will also be sold to the public, is planned for January 13. Tickets for this unique all-inclusive cruise will go on sale later this year.
World Maritime News Staff, March 6, 2012; Image: Viking Line