The World’s First Ship Tunnel


Earlier this month, Norway announced its plan to build the world’s first full-scale ship tunnel through its coastlines. This will be a massive engineering topic, leading to the removal of 3 million m³ of rock. Let’s look at this project, the numbers involved and how it compares to other coastal tunnels.

The World’s First Ship Tunnel

The ship tunnel itself will be in Norway, in the Stadhavent sea. This region holds a particularly hazardous coastline, difficult to navigate for both commercial and non-commercial ships.  Built by the Norwegian Coastal Administration, the tunnel will stretch to a total length of 1700 m. The tunnel is projected to take approximately 3 to 4 years to build.

Ship Tunnel Dimensions

Ship Tunnel Dimensions © Wikipedia

The combination of sea currents and underwater topography in the coastal region results in particularly complex wave conditions. The waves and weather in the region present a key obstacle for shipping. This new planned tunnel will decrease the risk to ships travelling in the region.

Comparison with the Channel Tunnel

An easy way to visualise and put the world’s first ship tunnel into context is to compare it with the Channel Tunnel. The Ship Tunnel’s length seems long at 1700 meters. However, this is minute compared with the channel tunnel’s length of 37.9 km. Norway’s tunnel is expected to have a height of 49m and width of 36m, giving it a cross sectional area of 1625 m².

Channel Tunnel

Channel Tunnel © Wikipedia

The channel tunnel is actually several tunnels, two 7.6 metre diameter tunnels with a 4.8 metre diameter tunnel between them. Adding that together gives a total cross sectional area of 314 m², significantly smaller than the ship tunnel. Taking both these factors into account, the length and cross section, we can truly compare the two tunnels by comparing volumes. The Norwegian ship tunnel comes to a total of 2,762,500 m³, whereas the channel tunnel comes to 12,000,000 m³, meaning the channel tunnel occupies a total of 4.3 times more volume than the Norwegian tunnel.

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