Norway to Build the World’s Largest Ship Tunnel

It will connect two major fjords and become a tourist attraction.

Norway to Build the World’s Largest Ship Tunnel

Cruise ships in a Norwegian fjord

Courtesy of Pixabay

Between skyscrapers and The Sphinx, human beings have proven throughout history that we are capable of incredible feats of engineering. The latest example: news out of Norway, where an arm of the government announced last week it plans to build a mile-long tunnel for ships.

The 188-foot-wide, 165-foot-tall tunnel will connect two major fjords and pass through the solid rock of the narrowest part of the Stad Pennsula in the western part of the country. According to a report on CNN, it will offer up to 100 freight and passenger vessels daily the opportunity to bypass the Stadhavet Sea, one of the stormiest and most treacherous parts of the Scandinavian coast.

Perhaps most notable for the travel industry: Stad will be the first ship tunnel in the world big enough for cruise ships.

The Stad ship tunnel also will be the first ship tunnel to pass through solid rock—which is what makes the job such a challenge. Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) officials estimate they’ll remove more than 8 million tons of rock to dig the tunnel. As of now, the plan is to start digging from both ends and meet in the middle. The price tag for the project: $315 million.

We could spend paragraphs explaining the process through which the tunnel will be built, but the best rundown comes from an article in Wired. Another way to get a sense of the scope of the project is to watch this official video, which offers computer simulations of what the tunnel would look like and how passage through it will work:

Engineers expect the project to take three or four years—practically nothing, considering plans for the tunnel have existed in one form or another since the late 19th century. Once the tunnel is operational, government officials expect it to become a tourist attraction like the Panama Canal.

It’s worth noting that the architect on the tunnel project, Snøhetta, is the same firm that designed plans for the major expansion of San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art, as well as the recent expansion at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry restaurant in Yountville, California.

The takeaway: Good architecture knows no bounds.

Matt Villano is a freelance writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. In more than 25 years as a full-time freelancer, he has covered travel for publications including Travel + Leisure, National Geographic Traveler, TIME, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Backpacker, CNN, and Sierra. He has written and updated 13 guidebooks about Las Vegas. Learn more about him at
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