Flexible friend

Strengthened by having over a century of sailing experience, from Baltic and North European ports, Bore brings a great deal of experience in shipping and chartering to the market. Based in Finland, and owned by the family owned Rettig Group, Bore offers safe and efficient shipping through its well-maintained vessels that are ice-strengthened and designed for year-round service.

Bore’s parent company has a strong presence in Europe, with operations in 20 countries, and an increasing profile in China and the US. Being part of the organisation has proved beneficial. “The Rettig Group is a family owned company with 250 years of experience, so it has a long-term vision and commitment, and the shipping arm of the group has been present since 1897,” reveals Bore’s CEO Thomas Franck. “We operate slightly differently from stock companies and we have been part of the family’s basic activities since the early 1900s.”

Continuing, he outlines Bore’s remit: “Our area of operation is primarily northwest Europe and northern Spain, covering the Bay of Biscay, and the Baltic and North Seas. We are not actively operating in the Mediterranean. Since all of our vessels are ice classed, we are specialised in ice navigation, which is needed in the Baltic. We have a fully-fledged operation and don’t need to outsource, as technical management, crewing, QHSE and commercial activities are part of the Bore operation. We have full management of our vessels and have long histories with our clients, both on the Ro-Ro and general cargo sides (industrial shipping).” Bore boasts 20 vessels, ten of which are in the Ro-Ro business. As a ship owner, the company charters them out to customers for long-term contracts and works with industrial suppliers with its general cargo vessels. The fleet is soon to be expanded, as Thomas explains: “We have two newbuilds being constructed in Germany, as of June 2010. They are Ro-Ro vessels; the first will be delivered in April 2011 and the second in July 2011.

“We are calling these vessels Ro-Flex, as they are flexible vessels capable of carrying normal Ro-Ro cargo and they are equipped with fixed and hoistable car decks, which we believe is an opportunity when talking of inter-Baltic trade. There are cars going from the rest of the world into Finnish and Baltic markets, and especially the Russian market.”

Jörgen Mansnerus, vice president of marine management, adds: “We have paid a great deal of attention to these newbuildings, named after their flexibility in the Ro-Ro segment, and focused on demand for the future, mainly in respect of low fuel consumption and environmentally friendly design.”

If the hoistable car decks are not in use, the deck’s height of 7.4 metres allows the shipments of double stacked containers. With the car decks in use, there is still sufficient space below them for conventional Ro-Ro cargo or trailers. The Ro-Flex vessels will be delivered by German shipyard Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft GmbH & Co. KG at a cost in excess of 100 million euros. As is typical of Bore’s preferences, the ships will feature new innovations and the latest technology. Considering that they may be sailing for more than 30 years, Bore recognised that it was better to invest a significant amount to get the best result.

Environmental concerns are very important to Bore and Thomas says the business tries to be environmentally friendly in its activities. “We’re operating in areas where the challenges are related to cost and environmental, so this is the focus. Owing to the fact we operate in the Baltic, we have a new ballast water treatment system onboard, and we’ve implemented an energy efficient way of operating, with a Wärtsilä common rail main engine.”

Installing this type of engine on the new Ro-Flex vessels will increase speed to 20 knots and the exhaust gas emissions will be lowered. Jörgen expands on Bore’s efforts: “We are studying the market on a daily basis to find new technology and energy efficient modes to run our fleet in the future. We also examine, for our newbuildings, what is ahead of us. For example, we are looking at the sulphur content in fuel emissions due to new regulations coming into force in 2015. This will have a huge effect on us because we’re in a specialised area.”

Continuing, he adds: “Having a more efficient fleet is our main aim; we will focus on energy efficiency and having an better performing fleet. We will become more eco-friendly with regards to emissions, and our goal is to lower our fuel consumption. We are ISO 14001 certified, which means we need to constantly improve so that we are continually trying to find new solutions that protect the environment and “minimize our environmental footprint.”

Though Bore has enjoyed success for many years, it is not always smooth sailing in the shipping and marine business. The company has not been immune to the global recession, though its attentiveness to the trend has stood it in good stead. “Through our contracts in the freight business, we tracked the downturn from an early stage and were able to spot the upturn slowly approaching,” Jörgen shares. “It was easier to see it in this activity than in the charter business. The market will carry on improving over the next year and we’ll continue to be hands-on with customers, especially in the Ro-Ro business.”

Outlining his plans for the future of Bore, Thomas sheds light on how the firm may develop in the coming five years: “We want to strengthen our current position and look for new opportunities. The Rettig Group has recently acquired full shares of an industrial corporation in Finland called Nordkalk, which is in the limestone business. Limestone and quicklime are the main products for distribution, so there is a lot of shipment involved, meaning there will be opportunities for us. There could even be a synergy effect developed between the shipping and industrial arms of the Rettig Group.”

Rather than rest on its laurels and simply use its long-held excellent reputation to grow, Bore’s focus is about evolving and developing to meet the needs of the shipping and marine market, and staying attuned to potential avenues of business. By looking to expand its activities and clientele – as well as continually update its fleet in order to stay up-to-date – the company can make the next century as profitable as the last.

New Ro-Flex vessels for next year

Eco-friendliness driving development

Lower fuel consumption paramount