First Hybrid-Powered Ship Completes Northwest Passage Crossing

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Roald Amundsen has done it again.

The legendary Norwegian explorer was the first to reach the South Pole and the first to complete the southern route through the Northwest Passage. He died in 1928, but now a namesake ship, the MS Roald Amundsen, became the world’s first hybrid-powered ship to complete the Northwest Passage.

The 15,000-ton battery-hybrid cruise ship was launched last summer by Norwegian exploration cruise line Hurtigruten. Hurtigruten is the world’s largest polar exploration cruise line in the world and is building two more hybrid-powered vessels to take adventurers to remote locations while reducing its carbon footprint by more than 20 percent. The company plans to convert its current line of ships to hybrid power as well.

“We have experienced gale winds, snow and ice. We have also witnessed spectacular sunsets, and striking scenery and wildlife,” MS Roald Amundsen captain Kai Albrigtsen said.“However, what has had the biggest impact on us, is how warmly we’ve been welcomed by the local communities along the route, just as Roald Amundsen himself was.”

The MS Roald Amundsen will now head south along the North American coast to South America and explore Antarctica this winter. She will return to Alaska in the summer of 2020 for a series of expedition cruises.

Until 2009, the Northwest Passage was too ice-locked for regular travel, but since then has been traversed more often. Canada claims the passage as its territorial waters, which is being challenged by the United States and other countries because of the potential commercial and strategic value of the route.