FSG and Brittany Ferries teams

Hot plasma splits steel as Honfleur build begins

As the piercing blue plasma stream sliced through the sheet of steel, Honfleur took shape for the very first time. Brittany Ferries' new ship already exists as a complete digital model. But the moment when the first steel is cut and a ship starts to become real is always hugely significant.

Two cuts of just a few metres each were made simultaneously. Once fully tailored by the powerful robotised cutter, this 10mm-thick sheet of steel will form the top of a water tank deep amidships. Honfleur's passengers will never see it. But it will be welded into one of the vast blocks which will be placed on the shipyard's slipway to form Honfleur's foundations when her keel is laid in August: another milestone in a ship's construction. Eventually, around 10,000 tonnes of steel will be cut in this way to create Honfleur's structure, and every slice and weld has already been planned.

Brice Robinson steel cutting quote

After more than a year of working virtually, it's very satisfying to push that button. Now our work changes. We go from the design and engineering phase to production, and we start wearing our hard hats and overalls.
Brice Robinson
Ships Architect
Brittany Ferries

"The design of ship's structure was frozen six months ago," says Brittany Ferries' naval architect Brice Robinson. "At this stage, the only decisions left to make are on interior design: what lighting and curtains we'll have, and what artwork we'll hang on her walls. But after more than a year of working virtually, it's very satisfying to push that button. Now our work changes. We go from the design and engineering phase to production, and we start wearing our hard hats and overalls."

"We are shipbuilders," says Rüdiger Fuchs, CEO of Flensburger, the northern German shipyard where Honfleur is being built. "We have incredible design and engineering capabilities here, to rival the automotive and aerospace industries. But building ships from steel is still at the heart of what we do. That starts today."

Christophe Mathieu, Brittany Ferries' CEO, joined Brice and Rüdiger to start the plasma cutting machine. "Cutting the first steel is always a big moment, but for us it’s even more important because Honfleur represents so much for Brittany Ferries: the future of our company, our desire to invest and to innovate by using gas as a fuel. It's a really big day.".

 

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