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Testing times for Polar Bear

The Kvitbjørn (Polar Bear), an advanced hybrid solution new sightseeing vessel, has completed her first test at sea, ready for official customer sea trials in the icy waters of Svalbard.

The vessel, first announced in November 2021 by Volvo Penta and Hurtigruten Svalbard, has the potential to transform the sustainable tourism industry by allowing guests to experience the wonders of Svalbard without disturbing the area’s nature and habitat, thanks to its near-silent operation. She will be formally unveiled in May at a special launch ceremony in Svalbard, before going into a three-year pilot test with Hurtigruten Svalbard.

So far, the vessel ticks all the boxes that Volvo Penta and Hurtigruten Svalbard wanted to achieve. The brand-new hybrid vessel is virtually silent in fully electric mode, has an impressive range of 500 nm, and is easily manoeuvrable. The Volvo Penta team was especially pleased with the functional stability of the system and the seamless ease this gives the operator when switching between driving modes.

“I’m extremely proud of what we have accomplished with this new hybrid vessel,” says Mario Celegin. “This ‘learning by doing’ approach is a new way of working for us, but it’s been so inspiring. Working in a small productive team over the last two years has meant that we’ve been able to progress quickly and efficiently make decisions. Most of all it’s been a fun learning experience. I’m excited to see the results of our customer sea trials.”

Currently, the vessel is with boatbuilder Marell Boats for the final details of the build. The next stage of Volvo Penta’s project with Svalbard’s oldest tourist operator, Hurtigruten Svalbard, will see the vessel, a state-of-the-art hybrid Marell M15, begin official sea trials in May 2022, which are set to run for the next few years.

Exhibitor; Volvo Penta
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