First Keel Laying Ceremony at Helsinki Shipyard


Helsinki Shipyard Oy CEO Carl-Gustaf Rotkirch

The keel laying ceremony for the first of Swan Hellenic’s two new ice-class expedition cruise ships took place in Helsinki today. This saw the first 347-ton block of the ship – newly arrived from Klaipeda, where it had been outfitted and painted – being set on the keel over coins to bring good luck in accordance with ancient maritime custom. 

Again demonstrating its respect for time-honoured traditions, Swan Hellenic announced during the ceremony that the ship would be christened SH Minerva in honour of the iconic company’s first purpose-built vessel, named after the Roman goddess of creativity and wisdom. Swan Hellenic CEO Andrea Zito declared there could be no more fitting way for the relaunched company to take Swan Hellenic’s pioneering spirit back onto the waves. 

The ceremony took place in the presence of Helsinki Shipyard Inc. CEO Carl-Gustasf Rotkirch and Project Manager Jonas Packalén, together with Swan Hellenic CEO Andrea Zito, participating via video link due to the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The elegant new ship represents the next generation of polar expedition vessels, designed for worldwide cruising with a strong focus on high-latitude areas. SH Minerva will feature a 4,6-megawatt diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system with selective catalytic reduction, 3-megawatt max. battery package and PC5 ice-strengthened hull. At 113 m, the 10,500-ton vessel has been specially designed to explore the most inspiring and inaccessible places on the planet.

Providing spacious 5-star accommodation for 152 guests in 76 spacious cabins and suites, the vast majority with large balconies, SH Minerva will be operated by an onboard team of 120 to provide the highest levels of personal service.

Commenting on the special challenges of these innovative ships, Project Manager Jonas Packalén explained: “New build 516 and her sister NB 517 are designed for extreme weather conditions, from polar areas with quite heavy ice conditions to tropical regions. And they are naturally designed to respect the sensitive ecosystems of the regions where they’re going to sail.”

Carl-Gustaf Rotkirch, CEO of Helsinki Shipyard Inc. remarked: “We are very happy to have been able to invite our workers back, engaging them in this exciting project. Now we can do what we know best – designing and building ships with a great history behind them and an even greater future ahead. These vessels for the iconic Swan Hellenic are inspiring us, and I hope the customer feels that.” 

Swan Hellenic CEO Andrea Zito congratulated the assembled team for successfully achieving an ambitious schedule, thanking the Helsinki Shipyard, Robert McFarland, Tillberg Design and VShips teams for their support.

We’re excited and honoured to take Swan Hellenic into this next chapter and look forward to meeting you on board when we head to Antarctica in November 2021” he concluded. “Join us to see what others don’t!

About Swan Hellenic []

Swan Hellenic was relaunched in July 2020 to proudly continue the spirit of cultural expedition cruising the company had pioneered in the 1950s. Building on its British roots, the new company has a global cultural cruising outlook dedicated to providing guests with the opportunity to ‘see what others don’t’. 

Two new 5-star polar PC5 ice-class expedition cruise ships arriving in November 2021 and April 2022 will each accommodate 152 guests in 76 spacious cabins and suites, the majority with large balconies.

Dedicated to guests with a passion for adventure and cultural exploration, the company’s meticulously planned itineraries explore the wild landscapes, wildlife, peoples and unique cultures of the world’s less travelled regions. 

Its ships feature elegant Scandi-design interiors, extensive outdoor spaces and dedicated expedition facilities. The crew includes an expedition team comprising expert guides, speakers and lecturers, and numbering 120 almost equals the number of guests, reflecting the high levels of attentive but unfussy service provided.

About Helsinki Shipyard Inc.

Helsinki Shipyard Inc. celebrated its 1st anniversary in May 2020, but shipyard operations date back 155 years to when Helsingfors Skeppsdocka was authorized to open a shipyard in Hietalahti on the 4th of March 1865. The shipyard is renowned as a pioneer in Finnish shipbuilding, a substantial employer and part of the history and landscape of the City of Helsinki.

Download related video and picture:







Swan Hellenic, CEO, Andrea Zito, and Senior Vice President Global Sales & Marketing, Alfredo Spadon, are available for interviews. 

Please contact: Renato Bodi, TwentyTwenty, Tel.+41793746887,

Helsinki Shipyard Inc. contact details:

Carl-Gustaf Rotkirch, CEO, Helsinki Shipyard Inc., tel. +358 10 622 2600