Extreme E the all new electric SUV racing series which launches in January 2021 relaunched the St Helena, the former Royal Mail ship that was used to deliver people and cargo from Cape Town to St Helena.

Extreme E acquired the exclusive use of the vessel in 2018 and since then, a team of 30 have been busy carrying out a complete refit and restoration of the vessel.

Austen Brunton, Technical Project Management with Wilson Ship Management who ran the restoration project from a dry dock in Cammel Laird in Birkenhead, Liverpool commented on the project saying:

Everything you see on the St. Helena has been touched. As a 30-year old ship she needed quite a lot of work to get her ready for her new role with Extreme E and some adaptions to make her suitable for both passenger and cargo use.

The list of work that has gone into the refit is extensive, with 30 tonnes of steelwork added to repair damage, and also create new elements to the ship, for example, the original 20 square metre swimming pool has been replaced with a Science Laboratory, so research can be conducted en route. This is a key element of Extreme E which looks to use its sporting platform to shine a spotlight on climate change issues, and solutions, around the world.

The ship’s interior is now being upscaled and given a new lease of life, with the original interior panelling given a wooden vinyl overlay, 4,000 new low emission LED lights replace the old power intensive lighting, and there are new heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. The bridge – the control centre of the ship – has been fitted with the latest in navigational shipping technology including DGPS, radio and ultrasonic wind system.

Austen Brunton went on to say:

Seeing the St. Helena re-enter the water is a very proud moment for myself and all my team. We have spent 18 months working on her to get her into this condition and it has been great to see her finally back on the water, where she belongs. We still have some more work to do on the interior, but she is now preparing for her new lease of life in her career, with Extreme E.

Captain of the St Helena Jari Lindgren commented saying:

The St. Helena is an iconic vessel and it is a privilege to be part of the team restoring her to original glory. As Captain, it’s also been an invaluable experience to get to know her inside out before we take her off around the world on her important new mission.

“She is a perfect logistics platform and Extreme E is setting a really good example of how ships can be refurbished for efficiency and given a new lease of life.

“This has been an important chapter, and we’re now really looking forward to the next stage and getting into full operation, and back to a life at sea.

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