Industrial trader for the Trollhattan Canal

'Snow Crystal', launched at the Westerbroek yard of Ferus Smit 'Snow Crystal', launched at the Westerbroek yard of Ferus Smit

Characterised by an exceptionally high deadweight for a vessel built to the maximum dimensions for access to Sweden’s Lake Vaner via the Trollhattan Canal, the 5,680dwt mini-bulker ‘Snow Crystal’ was recently launched from the Westerbroek yard of Ferus Smit in the north Netherlands. David Tinsley reports.

Snow Crystal is set to join the fleet owned by the Lidkoping-based Erik Thun Group, which has longstanding contractual links with the Dutch shipbuilder. The design’s 89m length overall and 13.35m breadth are the largest possible for the locks on the Trollhattan waterway, the artery for trade with important industries located on Vanern, Sweden’s largest lake.

A second, higher capacity newbuild of the same breadth, power and configuration, but of greater length, and therefore unable to access the Trollhattan Canal, is under construction at Ferus Smit’s Westerbroek premises on the inland waterway system near Groningen. This second ship is due to be commissioned next spring and will be of 6,550dwt.

Snow Crystal represents a further development on the design employed for Thun’s 5,100dwt ‘Trollmax’ sisters Alice and Helge, completed by Ferus Smit in 2013. The latest newbuilds are scheduled to replace two 5,400dwt, Trollhattan-capable cargo ships delivered by the same yard about 20 years ago.

Thun advised The Motorship that, compared to the Alice and Helge, the Snow Crystal generation incorporates a “completely different” hull design with a new form of bulb for better icebreaking performance, deeper draught, lower block coefficient, a nozzled propeller, and forecastle flair for improved seakeeping.

The new design is arranged with two holds. In the case of Snow Crystal, the total underdeck volume is 5,868m3 (207,220ft3), whereby No 1 hold offers 1,980m3 (69,920ft3) and No 2 can accommodate 3,888m3 (137,300ft3). While the ship’s maximum seagoing draught is 7.23m, the draught is limited to 5.40m on Lake Vaner, restricting the deadweight carrying capacity to some 3,400t. The follow-on newbuild of just over 100m length overall will provide a total hold intake of 7,475m3 (264,000ft3).

High density cargoes, including zinc, lead and copper concentrates, will be a particular focus for the new fleet additions.

The propulsion installation nominated for both Snow Crystal and the longer, follow-on newbuild is a six-cylinder model of Wartsila’s L26 medium-speed engine, rated at 1,950kW. Driving a nozzled, controllable pitch propeller through a reduction gear, the engine will be operated on marine diesel oil (MDO) fuel.

The 82km Trollhattan seaway connects Lake Vaner to the Kattegat, and hence to the Baltic and the North Sea, at Gothenburg. It enables short-sea vessels to serve the various ports around the lake, including Karlstad, Lidkoping, Vanersborg, Kristinehamn, Mariestad and Amal, providing gateways to and from foreign markets for paper mills, metal producers, engineering works, other industries. Sweden is among the EU’s foremost producers of non-ferrous and precious metals, and Thun plays an active role in the trade arising out of this field.

Thun also has four 8,000dwt coastal chemical/oil product tankers on order with Ferus Smit, extending the contractual relationship into 2021.


Length overall




Draught, maximum


Deadweight, maximum


Draught, Lake Vaner


Deadweight, Lake Vaner




Hold capacity, total


Main engine power


Ice class


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