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Stena RoPax Ferry to Become a Hospital Ship

Stena Saga (Photo: Stena Line)


Stena RoRo said it is preparing to convert an out-of-work vehicle and passenger ferry into a hospital ship to assist in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The large roll-on/roll-off passenger vessel Stena Saga previously sailed on Stena Line's Oslo-Fredrikshamn route from 1994 but has been idled since the service was permanently suspended in March due to the COVID-19 outbreak and travel restrictions imposed by several countries.

Seeking an alternative use for the vessel, Stena Line transferred the Stena Saga to sister company Stena RoRo who has prepared a design and appointed a project manager to convert the 167-meter vessel into a hospital ship to provide additional healthcare capacity in a coronavirus-affected region such as Sweden, Norway, Denmark or Germany.

Stena RoRo, which said it can convert the ferry and have it ready for service within a few weeks, will leverage its experience converting and adapting ships as well as building hospital ships for the project.

"At a shipyard in China, we're currently building the world's largest civilian hospital ship, the Global Mercy, on behalf of the international charity Mercy Ships," said Per Westling, CEO for Stena RoRo. "Our project manager for the Global Mercy is back in Sweden and will lead any possible conversion of the Stena Saga."

The 1981-built Stena Saga has more than 590 passenger cabins, and the design prepared by Stena RoRo would create space for up to 520 patients.

"To meet the requirements for medical care, we need, among other things, to rebuild the ventilation system, install alarms and communications systems, and also change the interior furnishings," said Stena RoRo project manager Rikard Olsson, who has substantial experience from the design and construction of hospital ships. "In addition, patients and crew must be able to be kept apart. We can do what needs to be done in two to three weeks."

The converted ferry will not be equipped for intensive care, the operator said.

"The idea is to provide care for coronavirus patients who need hospital care but not intensive care," Westling said. "There may also be a need for beds for patients who have left intensive care but still require medical care awhile longer. Probably it's mainly a matter of being able to relieve the load on conventional hospitals."

The Stena Saga is now in the port of Uddevalla, and Stena RoRo said it is investigating interest in the care capacity the ferry could provide. In addition to Sweden, where contact has already been established with the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, contact is also being prioritized with the authorities in Norway, Denmark and Germany, the company said.

Apr 14, 2020


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