Why Norway's Designing a Gigantic Tunnel for Full Size Ships


Norway’s Stadhavet Sea rages up and down the country’s west coast, disrupting shipping between several cities. The Stad peninsula acts as a barrier between the Norwegian Sea and the North Sea, but boats have a hard time moving through the area.

The solution? Build the world’s first ship tunnel of its size. The Norwegian parliament has assigned one billion kroner ($118.3 million) to the Stad Ship Tunnel Project as part of the 2014-2023 nationwide transportation plan. Overall, the tunnel is expected to cost 2.3 billion kroner ($271.8 million). The feasibility study is expected to be completed this year, after which construction is expected to begin after 2018.

The tunnel will provide huge benefits for passing ships. The nearby Kråkenes lighthouse south of Stad sees between 45 to 106 stormy days per year, the most in the country. High waves crash around the peninsula, and the local topography means waves can stay violent even days after a storm has left. Even though up to a third of the year can see stormy days in Stad, in reality, there are a lot more days where sailing is dangerous.

The yellow line shows where the new tunnel will pass through.


The tunnel will run from the inner areas of the fjords, from Moldefjorden in the west to Kjødepollen in the east. On the Moldefjorden side, a road with a pedestrian walkway running across the top will allow passers-by to watch the boats moving through the tunnel.

The chosen route should allow ships to pass through in many weather conditions, thanks to shielding from rocks around the tunnel entrance. The route also passes through the peninsula at the shortest point, saving on cost.

The local rock formations will lend a terraced entrance to the tunnel. 


Freight, passenger, and recreational vessels are expected to make use of the tunnel, and it’s hoped that the tunnel will enable a new fast ferry service between the major towns of Bergen and Ålesund, 147 miles apart as the crow flies.

The tunnel is over a mile long, 161 feet in height from the ground to the ceiling, and 118 feet wide. The chosen route may be the shortest way through, but a staggering 105.9 million cubic feet of solid rock will need to be removed, expected to weigh around 8.3 million tons.

How the tunnel construction is expected to look in the process.


Of course, safety is a top priority. A longitudinal guiding structure running along the tunnel walls allows for both protection for the boat against impacting the sides, while also providing a handy escape route. The guides also allow maintenance and inspection vehicles to pass through.

When construction starts, the project is expected to be completed in three to four years. It’s an ambitious plan, but one that could bring many benefits to the regions and wider towns.

Watch the tunnel in action below: