History of ASTRA
ASTRA was built in 1994 at Smogens Plat & Svetsindustri AB (Sweden) as a rescue cruiser and served in the Swedish Sea Rescue Society (SSRS) between 1995 and 2017. The SSRS is a marine rescue charity, similar to the RNLI in the UK. ASTRA spent her 1st winter in 1995 undertaking trials with the Pilots in Lulea in the Northern Baltic. During ASTRA's 22 years in the SSRS, she was stationed at three locations: initially outside Stockholm on the Island of Ornö, then on the West Coast of Sweden on the Island of Rörö (NW of Gothenburg) and lastly in Kalmar on the Baltic Sea (SE Sweden) to the west of the Island of Öland.
The SSRS had built and operated many icebreaking rescue vessels prior to ASTRA and had substantial experience of this size/type of vessel.
As you can see from the images above and below, SSRS has 50+ years of rescue cruiser knowledge and that knowhow went into the construction of the ultimate rescue cruiser below 24 metres when ASTRA was developed.
On receipt of a substantial donation in 1993, work started on the construction plans for ASTRA, with designs completed by FKAB Marine Design, Uddevala, Sweden. Construction started in 1994, at Smogens Plat & Svetsindustri AB, to the Classification standards of DNV. ASTRA was rated ‘Ice 1A Super’ and entered service in 1995.
Being built ‘in class’ means that ASTRA was built to a high standard, with very tight controls and monitoring during build and in-service, with redundancy provided for all key items of equipment. You would be correct to think that ASTRA is more of a merchant ship than a ‘boat’ or ‘yacht’.
ASTRA has the highest ice class rating as she was designed to operate in difficult ice conditions without icebreaker assistance.
Earlier rescue cruisers built by SSRS used 2-4 Volvo Penta engines connected to a single shaft. However, in the design of ASTRA SSRS decided to go for one strong low/middle rev. engine (Mitsubishi S6U-TK 1350 hp), which also delivered substantially lower maintenance costs. In addition to the Mitsubishi as main propulsion, two auxiliary generators were fitted. A Volvo Penta with the primary purpose of providing mains power when the shaft generator is not in use, is able to connect to the main shaft as a ‘get me home’ engine. The 2nd generator was a conventional Cummins Onan genset.
During the 22 years of SSRS ownership of ASTRA, the main engine and aux generators were serviced according to recommendations from manufacturers. She was drydocked as required by Class/Flag State and the Schilling rudder and shaft were serviced appropriately. SSRS have confirmed that they had “very limited maintenance costs” in connection with ASTRA.
While in the service of SSRS, ASTRA remained in Class with DNV and adhered to the rules and regulations of DNV and the Swedish Maritime Administration.
© Lennart Rydberg 2013, Gothenburg, Sweden
© Foggy 2016, Kalmar, Sweden