Connecting communities with Damen’s Fast Ferries
For countless island communities around the world, the existence of a local ferry service is a truly valuable aspect of daily life. These vessels bring key resources such as food and fuel in addition to providing a necessary means of passenger transport to and from the mainland or neighbouring islands. On top of that, such ferries often enable the presence of a bustling local tourism industry that conveys economic resources too.
When designing a ferry for this purpose, it is vital to take an operator’s needs into account. There must be room for passengers; not as much as for a fully dedicated passenger ferry, but enough to demand a comfortable crossing. And likewise, there must also be enough space for cargo; not as much as for a freight ferry, but enough to meet the needs of the island in question.
Not too much, not too few, but just right: it is this ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ approach to ferry design that can be seen in the two ferries that serve the Atlantic Ocean island nation of Cape Verde. 164 passengers and 65 tonnes of cargo – these two identical Damen-built 45-metre long Fast Ro-Pax Ferries not only fit the bill in terms of carrying capacity, but also in terms of speed, seakeeping and fuel consumption.
Here, a word must be said about the balance between speed and fuel consumption. By sailing at a speed of 20 knots, the Cape Verde ferries achieve optimum levels of fuel use while still completing their daily round trip of four different islands before returning to their home port at the end of the day.
After witnessing the successful operations of the Cape Verde ferries, the Republic of Angola Ministry of Transport approached Damen with a similar question, this time for a ferry with less passenger capacity and more space for cargo. Crucially, Damen’s answer showed flexibility in the ‘Goldilocks’ principle. After all, getting things just right depends on what is being asked for. In order to meet the Angolan specifications, Damen modified the vessel design in several aspects. The result – currently in the final stages of outfitting at Damen Shipyards Singapore before delivery – is a 48-metre long vessel with space for 60 passengers and 123 tonnes of cargo. Once mobilised, the ferry will link the Angolan capital of Luanda with the coastal exclave of Cabinda 400 kilometres to the north.
Once again, the speed of sailing has been considered. Sailing too fast means higher fuel costs. On the hand, if you sail slower to reduce fuel costs, then the vessel would need overnight cabins. By balancing speed with fuel consumption, the vessel will be as efficient as possible.
A real lifeline
Damen sees its range of Fast Ro-Pax vessels as a tool to genuinely improve the living standards of island communities around the world – a metaphorical lifeline in the form of a Fast Ferry. For example, before the two Cape Verde ferries started plying their trade, inter-island transport was generally carried out on an ad hoc basis.
An improved ferry service changes all that by bringing reliable services to connect communities,
says Robert Luth, Damen Product Portfolio Manager Fast Ferries.
“And addressing safety standards, these vessels are equipped with comprehensive navigation systems and ship-to-shore communications in addition to redundant ship’s systems. In terms of shore-based infrastructure, it really is as simple as installing a basic pontoon to serve as embarkation facility.” Furthermore, as niche markets go, the global potential for Damen’s Fast Ro-Pax Ferries is extensive. “The flexibility in design means that we can meet each individual operator’s demands. For example, in addition to twin-hulled 45 or 48-metre long ferries, we also have larger monohull ferries capable of operations in rougher sea states.”
So whether it’s the Caribbean, Asia and South America – we are looking forward to meeting new clients.