A ferry that carried people and vehicles over fjords in western Norway since the 1980s is likely to be condemned and scrapped after it was gutted by fire while undergoing repairs at a shipyard in Bømlo over the weekend. Its owner, Norled, told state broadcaster NRK that it’s a matter of economics.
The MF Strand was built in Kristiansund in 1982 and put into service in Rogaland County. In recent years, the 34-year-old ferry that was upgraded in 1996, plied the route from Ranavik to Skjersholmane in Hordaland.
Now it may have carried its final loads after it was hit by a dramatic fire Saturday morning that forced evacuation of 423 people near the dock where it was lying at Rubbestadneset. It took 20 hours before emergency crews could report that the fire had been extinguished. The cause of the fire remained unclear on Monday, but firefighters believe it started in one of the ferry’s salons.
Now its fate depends on whether it would be profitable to repair it and if Norled’s insurance will cover the cost of building a new ferry. “But it’s clear it’s an old vessel,” Inge André Utåker, regional chief for Norled, told NRK. “If it had been newer, we’d be more willing to use more money to repair it.”
One firefighter suffered smoke inhalation but there otherwise were no injuries. Utåker called the fire, though, “quite dramatic and surprising. But we’re all very glad that everything went well for all personnel involved.”