Trieste - Fincantieri is to build two more ships for MSC Cruises. The agreement was signed yesterday at the Monfalcone factory, where the Italian shipyard hosted the delivery to the Swiss cruise company of MSC Seaside, the largest passenger vessel ever built in Italy. The new contract - worth a total of EUR 1.8 billion- was announced by Gianluigi Aponte, founder of MSC Cruises, in the presence of Fincantieri’s CEO Giuseppe Bono, the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, and of the Minister of Transport, Graziano Delrio. The first of the two new ships, as informed on August 24 by the Secolo XIX/The MediTelegraph, forms part of an earlier order for two Seaside Class ships, which provided for an option on a third vessel, while the second ship forms part of a new agreement; both vessels will be built in Monfalcone, and will be delivered in 2021 and 2023, respectively.
The ships fall under the Seaside Evo Class, and will be larger than the MSC Seaview, which is still under construction at the Trieste shipyard and scheduled for delivery in May 2018. “Our relationship with Fincantieri is bound to grow moving forward, and we’re planning to commission at least one new ship from Fincantieri each year,” Aponte announced. Yesterday’s contract will take MSC’s total investment at the Italian shipbuilding group to 3.5 billion euro. The addition of these new ships means the cruise firm’s investment will now account for 12 new ships to be built by 2026, for an overall investment of EUR 10.5 billion, including vessels ordered from STX France. Pier Francesco Vago, executive chairman of the Swiss-based cruise company, pointed out how the new ship “represents an investment of around 700 million euro”. The MSC group contributes to the economic weight of Italy’s maritime sector, to the tune of five billion euro a year, or close to 10% of the total 43 billion generated by the sector. “Ten thousand Italians are employed by our company,” added Vago, “and that number is destined to grow: we will hire over thirty thousand workers over the next few years. That’s why I wish for the International Registry to undergo the necessary modifications to ensure that the new workforce can be Italian.” The MSC Seaside represents the fourteenth vessel to form part of the MSC fleet. It will enter into service today, headed for Miami. With a gross tonnage of 154,000 tons, the ship is 323 meters long and 41 meters wide. It will be able to carry 5,179 passengers and 1,413 crewmembers. 4,000 Fincantieri workers were employed in its construction, and the process took ten million man-hours. The new vessels of the Seaside Evo Class, on the other hand, will be 339 meters long, with a gross tonnage of over 169,000 tons. “It’s worth pointing out the level of excellence of the Italian maritime sector, and recognize its great contribution to our country,” stressed President Mattarella during the ceremony.