Innovative ferry ro-ro helps Sietas on new course

31 Jul 2010
‘Uthlande’ ready for launch at the Sietas yard

‘Uthlande’ ready for launch at the Sietas yard

One of Germany’s oldest private shipyards, J.J.Sietas, has completed its first ro-pax newbuilding, the small, 75.1m, state-of-the-art, double-end ferry Uthlande, and with it entered a specialist sector still competitive for some European shipbuilders, writes Tom Todd.

Sietas, located in Hamburg-Neuenfelde, was in a bad way financially a year ago when it booked the €16 million order from Wyker Dampfschiff Reederei’s as that Frisian owner’s first newbuilding in 15 years. The job helped the old private facility over a bad patch into new ownership and led it to announce it was leaving container ship newbuilding and switching to specialist ships like ro-ro.

The formula has proved successful for others in the past, notably the Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) which built boxship series in the 1990s but now enjoys a leading position in the ro-ro market.

The 385 dwt Uthlande is the WDR’s biggest ferry to date carrying up to 1200 passengers and 75 cars on five 2.5m wide lanes for a total of 270m. That is one-third more than on the owner’s previous ships. But size is just one reason why Uthlande is in a class of its own.

Because of her choice of materials, the 15.3m wide ship draws just 1.75m fully laden. Because she is a double-end ferry she can also sail in both directions, saving a valuable 10 minutes on turnround time in port and thus save fuel costs. Vehicles access at bow and stern at the same time as passengers enter and leave via side entrances at deck level.

The newbuild is driven by four Voith-Schneider propellers Type 16 R5EC/100-1, two each at either end, powered by four Caterpillar Type 3508 Diesels each of 540 kW for a combined 2160 kW. Officials said that gave the ship excellent manoeuvrability and a speed of about 12 knots. According to reports, the WDR is planning to order a second ferry with VSP drive.

Uthlande replaces a 57.9m long, 30 year old ferry of the same name, carrying 975 passengers and 55 cars and powered by two MWM main engines providing 12.5 knots.

Since Uthlande, Sietas too has booked a second ro-ro order. This too has come from a Frisian owner – Reederei Norden Frisia – and is for a 68m long 10.8m wide ship, drawing 1.6m. Of about 440 dwt, the island supply ship is for delivery this summer and her owners hope demand for heavy vehicle transport between the mainland and the Frisian islands will grow.

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