The Stad Ship Tunnel will bypass one of the most exposed and dangerous areas along the coast of Norway, allowing ships to navigate more safely

The Government of Norway has approved funding for the Stad Ship Tunnel, which once built will be the world’s first full scale ship tunnel of this size.

But, the 1,700-metre long structure is not intended to speed up shipping.

Instead, it aims to improve safety by bypassing the Stadhavet Sea, one of the most exposed and dangerous areas along the coast of Norway.

A plan showing the entrance to the large ship tunnel in the world in Norway

Entrance to the Stad Ship Tunnel. Credit: Norwegian Coastal Administration

The project is still in its feasibility study phase, but the Norwegian Coastal Administration has released some details.

The Stad Ship Tunnel will be built using conventional blasting along the narrowest stretch of the Stad peninsula, between the Moldefjorden to the Kjødspollen.

It will be 1,700 metres long, and will take up to four years to build.

The total cost of the project, which is expected to start after 2018, will be NOK 2.3 billion.

Norway will be the location of the world's first ship tunnel

Credit: Norwegian Coastal Administration

Once completed, it will be open to both commercial and recreational vessels, and will be big enough to accommodate Hurtigruten cruise ships which operate in the area.

It will also allow for a fast ferry service between Bergen-Ålesund. It is hoped the tunnel will also boost tourism in the region.

The location of the Stad Ship Tunnel in Norway

The tunnel will bypass the dangerous Stadhavet Sea. Credit: Norwegian Coastal Administration

The Stadhavet Sea, which the tunnel will bypass, is reported to have claimed 33 lives since the Second World War.

The Norwegian Coastal Administration says the combination of sea currents and subsea topography creates particularly complex and unpredictable navigational conditions.

“Very high waves come from different directions at the same time and can create critical situations. The conditions also cause heavy waves to continue for a number of days once the wind has died down. This causes difficult sailing conditions even on less windy days,” said the administration on its website.

The idea of a ship tunnel in the region was first suggested in 1874 in a newspaper article and has been debated ever since.

The project has gained momentum over the last few years following studies to identify the best route for the tunnel.

The final route was chosen because the Stad Peninsula is at its narrowest point here.

At the same time the waters are sufficiently shielded to allow shipping to use the tunnel in the majority of weathers.

Stad Ship Tunnel: Key figures

Length: 1700 metres.
Height between ground and ceiling: 49 metres.
Width between tunnel walls: 36 metres.
Cross-sectional area: 1625 m2.
Volume of solid rock to be removed: Approx. 3 million m3. Equivalent to approximately 7.5 million tonnes of blasted rock.
Total costs: Approx. NOK 2,3 billion.
Construction time: Approx. 3-4 years.