The STX shipyard, at the port of Saint Nazaire on France’s Atlantic coast, today started building what will ultimately be the world’s largest cruise ship.
At today's ceremony, the first steel plate for the hull of an “Oasis” class ocean liner for Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises was cut at STX France situated at the mouth of the river Loire.
The new order for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., (NYSE, OSE: RCL) brought to an end a two year famine of orders at the Saint Nazaire yard, reports French language Le Télégramme.
This latest leviathan of the seas, when it launches, will be 360 meters (1,181 feet) long with a beam of 60 meters (197 feet). 60,000 metric tonnes of steel will be used in the ship’s construction with the total cost coming in at around 1 billion euros ($1.35 billion). The new ship will be capable of carrying 8,000 passengers and crew.
At the keel-laying ceremony today, the first of the 400,000 sections of sheet metal that will be used to construct the latest addition to the Royal Caribbean fleet was cut and a piece symbolically representing the outline of the new vessel handed to the shipyard directors and the ship-owners.
STX Europe’s facility at Saint Nazaire is one of only around four or five shipyards in the world capable of handling such a monster of the seas. The new order will mean full employment for virtually all of STX France’s employees come January next. Many employees at the French shipyard were laid off as ship orders dried up.
A name has yet to be chosen for the new liner which will join two existing Oasis class ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, after the estimated delivery date in summer 2016.
The new cruise ship is the first of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class stable to be built outwith Finland’s STX Europe shipyards. Construction at Saint Nazaire continues a historic tradition of building ocean-going ships at the French shipyard.
In 2012, the western Loire city marked the 150th anniversary of the first transatlantic steamship service between France and the Americas. The Saint Nazaire shipyards are famed, too, for giving birth to two of the twentieth century’s most graceful ocean liners, the SS Normandie, which made its maiden voyage in 1935, and the SS France, launched in 1960.