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05 December 2014

It pays to be flexible – THE GLOBAL RO-RO SECTOR DEMANDS DESIGN ADAPTABILITY IN REPLACING ITS FLEET

Article from IHS Fairplay by Kari Reinikainen

Many deepsea ro-ro vessels used today were built in the 1980s. The need to replace them with modern ships has triggered investment in tonnage tailored to meet present needs. Bahri, the listed Saudi shipping group, recently completed the renewal of its deepsea ro-ro fleet, which operates from the kingdom to the US East Coast via the Mediterranean.

“They wanted to replace four larger vessels with six new ones with a much improved fuel efficiency, achieved both by advances in hydrodynamics and design of engines,” said Christian Damsgaard, head of the ro-ro unit at KNUD E. HANSEN, the Danish naval architecture consultancy.

Vessels that Bahri had been using were built in the mid1980s. It offered a replacement design for evaluation to the Danish group.

“We thought that it wasn’t really very good,” Damsgaard told IHS Maritime. “We suggested that the ships should have one deck fewer and … be longer than [in] the design.”

The Danish group cited two reasons for these recommendations. By reducing the number of cargo decks, the vessels could be more versatile and flexible so they could carry different types of cargo. A longer ship with one fewer cargo deck would mean that ramps could be built with a lower gradient and that the ships would have better stability and require less ballast. The hull lines of a longer design could be finer than those of the one Bahri put forward, which would produce lower installed power and lower fuel consumption. On the other hand, the longer hull would also mean a higher capital outlay because such a hull is more expensive to build than a shorter and higher one, the Danes pointed out.

When weighing the various cost elements – more expensive hull but lower engine output – against each other, the extra cost in choosing the longer hull would be somewhat mitigated.

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