More than just a border guard

The vessel features Baltic Workboats’ wave piercing bow design
The vessel features Baltic Workboats’ wave piercing bow design (Photo: Baltic Workboats)
A pair of MTU 4000s provide the diesel grunt for higher speeds
A pair of MTU 4000s provide the diesel grunt for higher speeds
The new Border Guard vessel at its main base in Tallinn
The new Border Guard vessel at its main base in Tallinn
Aft garaged 7m workboat
Aft garaged 7m workboat

Estonia’s new 45m hybrid powered Police and Border Guard patrol boat is a surprising example of true vessel multifunctionality at work writes Jake Frith.

Estonia is a small country in terms of population (Just 1.3 million at the last count), but it lies at a marine crossroads, sharing Eastern land and sea borders with Russia, Northern sea borders with Scandinavia and acting as a key gateway to the rest of Europe to the West.

With all this in mind, Estonia’s Police and Border Guard fulfils a range of duties that in larger countries would be conducted by multiple agencies with multiple fleets of specialist vessels.

So Raju, the agency’s latest vessel, recently completed by local builder Baltic Workboats on the Estonian island of Saaremaa, has to provide a huge range of competencies from oil spill response or pursuing smugglers, to Search and Rescue or firefighting.

The President of the Republic of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, said at the naming ceremony that adding Raju to the fleet in the Tallinn base completed a significant modernization of the Border Guard’s assets.

This is the biggest patrol vessel built by Baltic Workboats and considered by BWB as start of a new chapter in that it is the first in the company’s new range of battery hybrid patrol vessels. It cost a total of EUR 16 056 000 and was funded with the support of the European Union Cohesion Fund, to which 15% was contributed by the Estonian state.

The Baltic Sea will become an Emission Control Area from 2021 leading for a requirement for operators such as the Border Guard to run cleaner vessels- hence the choice to go for a battery hybrid solution.

More than 160 million tons of fuel are transported annually in the Gulf of Finland, and there is considerable shipping traffic in The Gulf of Tallinn.  All of this means that the Border Guard fleet must have a steady state of readiness to react promptly to a range of possible pollution incidents.

Raju’s state-of-the-art radar is claimed to be able to detect surface contamination, such as from oil spills, up to five miles away. Twin oil booms can then be rolled out, but when not required they stow in carousels beneath the deck.

The aluminium-hulled vessel is designed to operate with a crew of 10 persons, although up to 18 persons can be accommodated onboard when a larger crew is required for longer missions.  In the event of a mass casualty SAR emergency it is envisaged that the vessel will accommodate over 100.


The hybrid propulsion plant provides a maximum speed of 27 knots, while economic cruising speed is 10-12 knots with a range of 3000 nautical miles. The parallel hybrid power system supports the ship’s two main engines with a smaller diesel-engine-driven power plant and electric motors coupled to the main engines by gearboxes. The hybrid electric system generates electricity when running at speeds of up to 27 knots, providing power to vessel electronics, as well as storing this power in batteries, and, vice-versa, also enabling fully electric propulsion at up to 10 knots. On full electrical mode the vessel network and propulsion is powered from battery only. Up to 5 hours cruising time at 5 knots depending on weather condition.

The vessel’s highly-compact propulsion system is half the size of a conventional diesel-electric propulsion system, due to its smaller, highly-efficient and lightweight motors, which feature synchronous reluctance-assisted permanent magnet technology. The hybrid propulsion cuts emissions, maintenance and fuel costs.

The vessel features Baltic Workboats’ wave piercing bow design, which has been very popular on its smaller pilot boats due to its documented reductions to vertical accelerations and hence improvement in crew comfort.

To improve the vessel’s comfort when loitering or at standstill, it has a wave dampening tank aft of the bridge. This baffled tank can be pumped partially full of 4 tonnes of seawater to reduce rolling, and can be pumped empty again to reduce weight aloft when underway. The idea was inspired by similar systems used on Belgian Navy patrol vessels.


Length LOA 44.6 m
Beam 8.8 m
Draught 2.6 m
Displacement 235 t
Power 2 x 2000 kW (MTU 4000)
Speed 27kn
Cruising speed 10-12kn
Range (estimated) 3000 nm @ 10kn
Crew 10 + 18
Tank capacities:
Fuel 30 000 l
Water 2 000 l
Waste 3 600 l
Ballast 14 500 l

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