Ro-ro in bloom on the North Sea

Four-deck trailership 'Gardenia Seaways', first of two new additions to DFDS’ North Sea operations Four-deck trailership 'Gardenia Seaways', first of two new additions to DFDS’ North Sea operations

Danish-owned shortsea shipping and logistics operator DFDS has boosted a key North Sea trade lane by introducing two new, high-capacity ro-ro freight vessels based on a proven type built by Flensburger Schiffbau Gesellschaft (FSG). David Tinsley reports.

The 32,300gt, 210-metre Tulipa Seaways was phased into the Rotterdam/Immingham service on September 30, joining sister ship Gardenia Seaways, commissioned in July. Each embodies a reworked and improved version of FSG’s RoRo 4100 design, providing 4,076 linear metres of cargo space on four decks, equivalent to a payload of 272 trailers. Access is by way of a 17m-wide axial stern ramp.

Gardenia Seaways and Tulipa Seaways are the second and third vessels in a four-ship series contracted by the Siem Group, the owner of the Flensburg yard, a prolific designer and constructor of ro-ro tonnage. DFDS has secured the two ships on five-year bareboat charters, with options to purchase.

The first of this latest quartet of RoRo 4100-class vessels entered service in April as the Meleq, under charter from Siem to the Turkish logistics specialist Ekol for the latter’s Alternative Transport line between Turkey and Italy . The fourth newbuild in the programme is also committed to Ekol, and is fitting out at the German yard in readiness for handover early next year as the Fadiq.

Although the ship type is geared to unaccompanied trailers, the accommodation arrangements in the DFDS-deployed pair include single cabins for 12 truck drivers.

The design is a derivation of that used for three vessels delivered by FSG to Turkish operators Ulusoy Lines and UN RoRo in 2012-2013 as the Ulusoy 14, Ulusoy 15, and UN Istanbul.

Tailoring to DFDS requirements has included the adoption of the SAT trailer lashing system favoured by the Danish company on the grounds of cargo handling efficiency as well as cargo security in rough weather. With SAT, a device known as the Autotrestle is connected to the terminal tractor’s fifth wheel for rolling on and off the ship, and forms an integrated part of the trailer during the voyage, fixed by means of integral twistlocks to flush sockets in the deck.

Propulsive power is engendered by MAN wide-bore, medium-speed diesel machinery in the shape of twin eight-cylinder models of the L48/60CR common-rail type. The engines each have a maximum output of 9,600kW, and drive Schottel controllable pitch propellers through Renk gears incorporating PTO mechanisms for shaft generators. Electrical energy is otherwise derived from a pair of gensets based on 5L21/31 MAN prime movers.

Each of the DFDS-chartered duo is registered in Klaipeda under the Lithuanian flag.


Length overall


Length b.p.








Gross tonnage




Freight capacity

4,076 lane-m

Main engine power

2 x 9,600kW








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