STX Finland Closes Down The Rauma Yard

STX Finland, the Finnish subsidiary of the struggling Korean shipping conglomerate STX, announced on last Monday (16th September) the closure of their shipyard in Rauma, Finland.

The Rauma shipyard still in full swing in 2010, with P&O Ferries' SPIRIT OF BRITAIN at the fitting-out quay in the foreground. Photo © 2010 STX Finland.
The Rauma shipyard still in full swing in 2010, with P&O Ferries’ SPIRIT OF BRITAIN at the fitting-out quay in the foreground. Photo © 2010 STX Finland.

While STX Finland’s Helsinki and Turku yards have become internationally famous as cruise ship builders, the Rauma yard has concentrated more on ferries and more specialised ships such as research vessels. This has been the case especially during the last decade or so, when the internal work division within STX Finland has been for Turku to specialise in cruise ships and Rauma in Ferries. This division of work became redundant during the current economic downturn, when there simply were not enough orders to sustain both yards. Now STX Finland have arrived at the decision to close down the Rauma yard in summer 2014, which will result in the loss of 700 jobs in the yard itself, plus a number of subcontractor jobs.

MV HANSEATIC Builder's Plaque.
MV HANSEATIC Builder’s Plaque. Photo © Peter Knego.
HANSEATIC at Pelican, Alaska. Photo © Peter Knego.
HANSEATIC at Pelican, Alaska. Photo © Peter Knego.
The last Rauma-built cruise ship, the BIRKA PARADISE, is seen here departing Mariehamn, Finland on midsummer's day 2012. Since then the ship has been renamed BIRKA STOCKHOLM. Photo © 2012 Kalle Id.
The last Rauma-built cruise ship, the BIRKA PARADISE, is seen here departing Mariehamn, Finland on midsummer’s day 2012. Since then the ship has been renamed BIRKA STOCKHOLM. Photo © 2012 Kalle Id.

With the loss of the Rauma yard, the future of shipbuilding in Finland is looking very bleak, especially as the Arctech Helsinki yard (owned 50% by STX Finland and 50% by Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation) looks also likely to be closed down in the near future. Not because the yard – specialising in icebreakers – would be unprofitable, but because it is located on land rented from the City of Helsinki and it is slated to be turned into a residential area when the current rental agreement runs out in 2017.

Starting with the ROMANTIKA of 2002, the Rauma yard built a series of large ferry for Tallink between 2002 and 2009. Photo © 2013 Kalle Id.
Starting with the ROMANTIKA of 2002, the Rauma yard built a series of large ferry for Tallink between 2002 and 2009. Photo © 2013 Kalle Id.

The current Rauma shipyard was established in 1991, when the shipbuilding operations of Hollming Oy and Rauma Oy were merged – with support from the Finnish state – into Finnyards Oy. Finnyards was later taken over the by Norwegian shipbuilder Aker. In 2004 Aker merged their two Finnish shipbuilding companies, Aker Finnyards with a yard in Rauma and Kvaerner Masa-Yards with yards in Helsinki and Turku, into the ”new” Aker Finnyards. In 2008 Aker Finnyards was sold to STX and became the current STX Finland.

COLOR MAGIC, the largest ferry in the world, was fitted out at Rauma although her hull was built in Turku. Photo © 2011 Kalle Id.
COLOR MAGIC, the largest ferry in the world, was fitted out at Rauma although her hull was built in Turku. Photo © 2011 Kalle Id.

Cruise ships built by the Rauma shipyard (in its various incarnations) include the SILVER EXPLORER (originally the DELFIN CLIPPER), HANSEATIC (originally the SOCIETY ADVENTURER), CHINA STAR (originally the RADISSON DIAMOND), BIRKA STOCKHOLM (ex-BIRKA PARADISE) and the radical 1990-1992 rebuilding of the SALLY ALBATROSS, the ship currently sailing as Louis Cruises LOUIS CRISTAL. Notable Rauma-built ferries include the world’s largest ferry COLOR MAGIC for Color Line, the three GALAXY-class ferries for Tallink and, most recently, SPIRIT OF FRANCE and SPIRIT OF BRITAIN for P&O Ferries.

The Finnish Coast Guard ship TURVA (literally ”safety”) seems to be left as the last new ship built at Rauma. Photo © STX Finland.
The Finnish Coast Guard ship TURVA (literally ”safety”) seems to be left as the last new ship built at Rauma. Photo © STX Finland.

The last ship to be built at the yard will be the patrol boat TURVA currently under construction for the Finnish Coast Guard. After this the yard will carry out a radical rebuilding of Fjord Line’s 1993-built overnight ferry BERGENSFJORD into the daytime ferry OSLOFJORD in spring 2014. Unless a new owner can be found for the yard, after this shipbuilding in Rauma – which begun in the 16th century – will end.

For more photographs by Kalle Id, please visit his kships.blogspot.com/

 

Kalle Id

Kalle Id

Kalle Id, MaritimeMatters' Helsinki correspondent, is a Finnish maritime historian, photographer and journalist, with a Master's Degree in history from the University of Helsinki. His early-age exposure to ferry travel led to a lifetime fascination with passenger ships, both the cruise ferries of his home waters and the cruise ships and ferries of further afield. Kalle maintains his own ship photography blog at kships.blogspot.com. Contrary to the popular belief, he writes under his real name.
Kalle Id
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