It seems that not even the Vikings dared to sail these waters due to their dangers, but now technology and innovation have found the solution for freight and cruise ships to navigate them safely.
Norway’s Government has approved a colossal engineering project to build the first marine tunnel under the mountains of Stad, a little peninsula bathed by the Norwegian Sea, characterized by high wind speed and its harsh weather conditions. There are some other underground excavations to enable ship navigation, such as the Canal du Midi in France, but the one in Norway will be the first to allow passage to large vessels of up to 16 000 tons.
The figures are staggering, not only regarding its total cost, estimated around the EUR 300 million mark, but also because the procedure will result in the displacement of around eight million tons of rock. All this will lead way to a remarkable 1.7 km long, 50 m tall, 36 m wide tunnel.
Typically in these cases, open top canals are built, but this time the 335 m high mountain has made the technical teams to choose a tunnel design. When construction procedures begin, operators will start to drill at opposite sides of the mountain, utilizing protection thresholds to prevent water from entering the tunnel, until they meet in the middle.
Both ends of the tunnel will be flanked by concrete blocks and rubber rudders in order to withstand vessel impacts, and strict safety standards regarding boat clearance distance observation will be set so that collision risks between ships are avoided.
The tunnel excavated through the heart of this rocky peninsula in the northwestern part of the country will allow cruise, freight and small ships to take a safe subterranean shortcut, thus avoiding the harsh winds and waters of the Stadhavet Sea, one of the most treacherous locations all over the Norwegian Fjords.
It won´t be until 2023 that this ambitious underground passageway is ready for use, but the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) claims that from that moment on approximately 100 cargo and passenger ships will be able to navigate through this new marine pathway every day.
Norse sailors and fishermen have reportedly longed for such a shortcut since as far back as the late 19th to address the problem of safety, due to harsh sea conditions that even the first settlers of the place were already aware of. Thanks to technology and innovation this request will be finally coming true.