zoomImage Courtesy: Damen On March 18, Damen Yichang Shipyard in China held a steel cutting ceremony for the first of a planned series of short-sea LNG bunker vessels to be built for Estonian energy company Eesti Gaas.The 6,000 cbm vessel, ordered a couple of months ago, and its future sister-ships are intended to accelerate the wider adoption of LNG as a cleaner alternative fuel in the north-eastern region of the Baltic Sea by providing a mobile ship-to-ship distribution service for the first time.At the ceremony the first sections of the 100-meter, LGC 6000 LNG class vessel were cut from 8mm steel plate and will eventually be part of the wall separating the ship’s engine room from the tank hold. Assembly will start in May with the installation of the LNG tanks scheduled for November, according to Damen.Following sea trials, the ship will arrive in Estonia next summer and will start serving LNG clients in the autumn. The new vessel will be capable of carrying out bunker activities at designated locations both in and outside ports.The LGC 6000 LNG is designed to meet the requirements of ICE class 1A certification, allowing it to operate all year in the Gulf of Finland and the northern Baltic. It will also have a green ship notation. A dual-fuel propulsion system will be used for the management of the Boil-Off Gas (BOG) in combination with a gas burner, and the interior of the vessel will feature high-quality accommodation for her crew.Eesti Gaas will operate the vessel under a long-term charter from its parent company Infortar AS. Eesti Gaas is also the LNG supplier for Tallink Grupp’s LNG RoPax vessel Megastar.“The start of steel cutting for this brand-new vessel for Infortar marks an important milestone in the start of her construction. We are very grateful to Eesti Gaas and Infortar for choosing Damen to build their new LNG bunkering vessel,” Peter Anssems, Sales Manager, Sales East and South-East Europe, Damen Shipyards Group, commented.“With this high-tech joint venture, Eesti Gaas and our launch client ferry-operator Tallink will ascend to having the title of the LNG companies with the most competence and experience in this region,” Kalev Reiljan, a member of the management board of Eesti Gaas, said.“Eesti Gaas has performed over 1,500 port-based LNG truck-to-ship refuellings of Tallink’s LNG-powered Megastar ferry and now we are moving on toward offshore, more mobile solutions,” Reiljan added.This project is co-funded by the EU through the CEF Transport program.