Neptun Werft delivered the operator's current flagship, Schleswig- Holstein, in 2011.The newly contracted vessel is due for delivery in February 2018. The contract price has not been disclosed.
"Neptun has provided us with an attractive offer and thus succeeded to compete against a number of other reputable German and European yards," said WDR Managing Director Axel Meynköhn.
The newbuilding will replace the 1992-built conventional ferry Rungholt, which will be offered for sale.
S 578, as the project is currently designated, will be a near sister to the 2011-built Schleswig-Holstein and the series prototype, Uthlande, which was delivered by Sietas Werft in 2010.
Based on extensive research and external scientific consultation, WDR has again opted for a diesel-mechanic propulsion driving four Voith-Schneider propellers.
With identical main dimensions to Schleswig-Holstein (75.88 m long x 16.40 m wide), S 578 will also have the same maximum passenger capacity of 1,200 in day traffic. The car deck has, however, been modified to increase capacity for trucks. It will be the first WDR ferry to accommodate trucks on up to four lanes. With approximately 350 lane meters for private cars and 280 lane meters for cargo, S 578 will have significantly more capacity than the ship it is replacing, the Rungholt.
The inauguration of the new ship will see WDR operate three double-ended ferries on the Föhr-Amrum-Line from spring 2018. The 1995- built conventional ferry Nordfriesland will be retained as a fourth ship to cover seasonal traffic in summer and replacement operations in the off-season.
Neptun Werft Managing Director Manfred Müller-Fahrenholz, says the committed after-sales service provided to the "Schleswig-Holstein" has – along with a competitive offer – helped to win the new contract to Rostock."With the delivery of S 578," he says, "WDR will have an extremely young and eco-friendly fleet. In contrast, other European domestic operators are yet facing the replacement of their current short-distance ferries. We aim to contribute to this process and hope to support also other operators in bringing their fleet up to latest technical and environmental standards.
WDR's newest ferry has, like the Schleswig-Holstein, been designed according to the strict requirements of the German eco-standards RAL-UZ 141 and RAL-UZ 110, which formulate the standards for the German Blauer Engel (Blue Angel) ecolabel in the categories of Environmentally Friendly Ship Design as well as Environmentally Friendly Ship Operation.