Merkel turns out for Sonne launch

12 Jul 2014
Merkel turns out for Sonne launch

Merkel turns out for Sonne launch

Chancellor Angela Merkel has launched and named Germany’s latest, biggest and most expensive research ship to date – the €124.4 million 'Sonne' - as builders Meyer Werft seek a “final settlement soon” in their bid to acquire STX Finland.

Tom Todd reports that Merkel unveiled the 116m long and 20.6m wide newbuilding at a classic ceremony on Friday July 11th at Meyer subsidiary Neptun in Rostock-Warnemuende attended by some 300 official guests. It follows the new ship’s sea trials and 20 months of building at Neptun and parent Meyer in Papenburg.

The new Sonne is a multi-purpose work horse now being outfitted to replace a 97.6m long and 14.2m wide predecessor still in service with operators Reederei RF Forschungsschiffahrt in Bremen which will take the new Sonne into deep-sea service next January in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Meyer Werft chief Bernard Meyer said at the launching that the design and building of the new Sonne had been “a big challenge”. He singled out the technological demands made on the new research ship by the scientific community.

The launch of the new Sonne comes in the wake of unofficial media reports of possible new orders with Meyer for two big cruise ships which could be built at STX in Finland for delivery 2018 and 2019. Meyer has not commented on these reports.

It has however acknowledged that it hopes to “achieve a final settlement soon“ at discussions with the Finnish government on the acquisition of STX Finland and its Turku yard.

A statement said “meaningful progress” had been reached at the talks but that there were still a number of open issues to solve.

It quoted Finnish Minister of Economic Affairs Jan Vapaavuori and Meyer MD Jan Meyer saying: “If we all work on it and create favorable conditions, then we see a positive long-term future for the Turku yard and the whole maritime cluster in the region”. It added that talks continued to be “intensive” and said “we are confident that we can make the necessary progress in a short time”. 

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