Netherlands-based CoCo Yachts is developing a strong reputation for sleek, efficient, yacht-like fast ferries.
Zanzibar 1 is the first of a pair of luxurious 35-knot, 50-metre, aluminium catamaran ferries for the Dar-es-Salam to Zanzibar route. While the route has attracted a few modern ferries, it has continued to earn an unenviable reputation for tragic accidents. It obviously needs more fine craft such as Zanzibar 1 and its sister ship.
Zanzibar is a fascinating, historic and very interesting place with enormous tourist potential, but it does need better infrastructure such as these very impressive Chinese-built ferries. Fitted with Humphree ride control and very luxurious seating, they offer their passengers a safe and very comfortable ride.
“We were given the challenge of designing vessels that needed to fulfil a strict set of requirements,” CoCo Yachts told Baird Maritime. “Not only did they have to be luxurious, they also had to be faster, more fuel-efficient, and less costly overall compared to the ferries owned by the competition. We were fortunately able to achieve that and more by making sure the vessels had better seakeeping and significantly reduced noise emissions.”
Although CoCo Yachts designed the new ferries to be powered by diesel engines, the company is aware of the growing trend of vessels that operate with reduced carbon emissions. Still, there are some impediments that are preventing these innovations from being adopted on a wider scale.
“High-speed sailing is not usually associated with battery power, so it continues to be a challenge to develop high-speed vessels that run entirely on electricity. Also, it’s odd that alternative fuels promising low emissions, like LNG and CNG for example, and other measures like SCR systems are not yet very popular within the industry.”
A lack of newbuilding orders caused by the suspension of passenger traffic as a measure to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 was another challenge CoCo Yachts needed to overcome in 2020.
“The ferry market seemed to come to a complete standstill,” the company remarked. “We were compelled to begin looking in alternative markets for other opportunities, and this also included collaboration with new shipyards i.e. those with whom we have not yet collaborated before.”
Having adopted this policy of diversification and expansion, CoCo Yachts expects that 2021 will be a year that is “not easy” but still better than 2020 in many respects. The company further expects 2022 will be the year that the global ferry market will experience a “full recovery” from 2020.
To be better prepared for the coming years, CoCo Yachts knows it must address the growing demand for more efficient and comfortable (i.e. reduced noise and vibrations) vessels that run on clean energy, partly because the cost of traditional marine fuels is expected to rise even further.
“More and more ferries will be replaced by emission-free vessels,” the company told Baird Maritime. “Perhaps vessel service speed will need to drop a bit in order to ensure emission-free sailings while keeping costs as low as possible. Although batteries still take up a substantial portion of total cost, they are becoming more affordable, and the demand for them will continue to grow as fuel prices go up.”
The company also recently began looking into the possibility of equipping its future newbuildings with shore charging facilities as well as foils and other features that will help reduce hull resistance. However, it expects that such features will result in additional costs.
“Customers will be more likely to operate their existing vessels more economically by reducing their service speeds,” said CoCo, “rather than invest in more complex vessels.”
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