Located in the west of Norway, the
serves as a mountainous divide between the Norwegian Sea to the north and the North Sea to the south, both of which are swarming with freight and passenger ships. However, this area has also one of the most dangerous coastlines in the region, posing a significant danger to commercial vessels.
The Kråkenes lighthouse
, just south of Stad, is the meteorological weather station with the highest number of stormy days, which can be anything from 45 to 106 days per year. The combination of wind, currents and waves around this part of the coastline make this section a particularly demanding part of the Norwegian coast. The combination of sea currents and subsea topography creates particularly complex and unpredictable navigational conditions. Simultaneously, very high waves come from different directions and can create critical situations. The conditions also cause heavy waves to continue for a number of days once the wind has died down. This causes difficult sailing conditions even on less windy days.
In order to improve accessibility and safety for shipping past Stad, the Norwegian Coastal Administration is planning to build the world’s first full-scale ship tunnel. Studies carried out in 2000–2001 and 2007–2008 have analysed a number of alternative cross sections and routes for the tunnel. The final route has been selected because the Stad Peninsula is at its narrowest point there, and at the same time the waters are sufficiently shielded to allow shipping to use the tunnel in most weather conditions.
In the recently announced Norwegian National Transport Plan
for the period 2018–2029, the Stad Ship Tunnel has been granted funding in the first period of the plan (six years), giving an initial go-ahead for this ambitious project whose cost is estimated at NOK 2.7 billion (about EUR 300 million). The construction could start as early as 2019 and is expected to take three to four years to complete. If realised as planned, the tunnel will measure 1,700 metres in length, 49 metres in height and 36 metres in width, allowing ships weighing up to 16,000 tons to pass beneath the mountain. To create it, engineers will have to remove about 3 million cubic metres of solid rock.
While exact material requirements for the tunnel are yet to be specified and revealed, the project will almost certainly involve significant amounts of corrosion-resistant alloys, to ensure that the tunnel can withstand harsh marine conditions. As such, it holds great opportunities for stainless steel manufacturers and suppliers.
Illustration © Appex/Norwegian Coastal Administration