VESSEL REVIEW | Buccoo Reef – Trinidad and Tobago’s newest large Ro-Pax boasts 45 knots top speed


The National Infrastructure Development Company (NIDCO), a government-owned infrastructure and transport services provider in Trinidad and Tobago, recently welcomed a new large Ro-Pax ferry to its fleet.

Built by Australia’s Incat Tasmania to a design from Revolution Design, the all-aluminium catamaran vessel has been named Buccoo Reef in honour of a marine protected park and one of three major coral reef ecosystems in Tobago.

The ferry was developed in response to NIDCO’s requirement for a modern vessel that also provided enhanced comfort and safety features during trips across the Caribbean “seabridge” between the islands of Trinidad and Tobago.

The newbuild has an LOA of 100 metres, a moulded beam of 26.6 metres, and a maximum deadweight of 760 tonnes.

Buccoo Reef draws its power from a quartet of MAN 28/33D STV 16V engines that have a combined output of 29,120 kW. The engines drive four waterjets via ZF 53500 NR2H gearboxes housed in aluminium and with reduction ratio suited for optimum jet shaft speed to propel the large vessel to speeds of up to 45 knots. The waterjets also feature thrust vectoring to enable the vessel to manoeuvre within its own length, thereby making it easier for the crew to dock/undock and to sail in narrow or congested waters.

A Naiad active ride control system has been fitted to maximise passenger comfort. This system combines active trim tabs at the stern with a retractable, active-fin T-foil at the bow. When not required, the T-foil withdraws behind the centre bow to maximise speed and efficiency.

The passenger deck covers 1,640 square metres and includes space for a maximum of 995 people. All passenger areas feature high-quality carpeted floors, durable timber-look finish walkways, stainless steel fittings, and decorative wall panelling. Seating options include single, double, triple, and quadruple seating and tables. Television screens have also been placed at strategic locations to ensure convenience.

Also on the passenger deck is a VIP lounge in the forward cabin. Passengers in this area are treated to unobstructed views of the voyage ahead through expansive use of glass across the bow and forward quarters. The VIP lounge also features deep blue carpeting, wood-look finish walkways, dedicated male and female toilets with motion-activated taps, and a private bar complete with two refrigerator/freezer units, a coffee machine, and tabletops made from glass and stainless steel.

The VIP lounge also contains a purser’s office, which has controls over the public announcement and entertainment system. An expansive, full-width desk and two chairs enable crew members to conduct electronic communication to all passengers quickly and efficiently. On the port side of the lounge is a a fully insulated and independently temperature-controlled cool room with shelving to provide ample storage space for a range of perishables and liquids.

Located amidships on the passenger deck is a lounge containing airline-style seats, upholstered individual bucket seats, and tables for passengers’ use. Also within this lounge are a kiosk, a food preparation area, a bar, and wide corridors that help reduce crowding and long queues.

The last large passenger space is the aft lounge, which features twin, triple, and quadruple person airline-style lounges and individual bucket seating. This area also has its own bar, seating bays for wheelchair-bound individuals, large male and female toilets with six cubicles each, and a disabled persons toilet that doubles as a nursing room for mothers with small children.

Access to the passenger deck is via fully enclosed and fire-protected staircases forward and aft. A passenger lift at the stern allows for approximately seven people to access the passenger cabin via the promenade deck, where outdoor seating is also available. There is also a port side lift primarily for use by wheelchair-bound guests.

To aid in the accommodation of passengers who require medical attention, a patient transport area is provided amidships on the passenger deck. Reduced height walls, large roller door access, and an obstruction-free floor space allow easy access for multiple patient trollies and a steady flow of fresh air to occupants.

Situated atop the passenger deck, the wheelhouse features modern navigation, monitoring, and control equipment. A dedicated docking station, 360-degree views, 11 remote release 100-person life rafts, two SOLAS-certified self-propelled inflatable dinghies, marine evacuation slide (MES) units – to allow passengers to exit the vessel quickly and safely in the event of an evacuation – and CCTV cameras all allow the crew to ensure greater safety and control during voyages and docking.

The vessel offers views from raised helm seating, with all instruments fitted in dark grey and black consoles to aid night vision and to minimise distractions. A separate ship’s office and lounge is located aft of the bridge. In this area, crew are able to lay out charts, plan voyages, or relax from day-to-day activities. Ample desk space, a food preparation area with sink and fridge, television, tables, and seating for up to ten crew are also available.

Crew cabins are located in a secluded area aft of the wheelhouse and crew lounge. These cabins come equipped with air conditioning, individual beds, desks, wardrobe, internet access, and windows to let in natural light. The ship’s master and chief engineer are afforded individual cabins with private en suite facilities while the remaining crew share three four-person cabins and bathroom with shower and two toilet cubicles.

The ferry features reverse cycle air conditioning throughout the passenger cabin, toilets, crew cabins, and wheelhouse. The HVAC system is capable of maintaining 22 degrees Celsius and 50 per cent relative humidity with a full passenger load and outside temperature of 35 degrees Celsius and 60 per cent humidity.

The vehicle deck has a total area of 2,000 square metres and a height of 4.6 metres. The space allows for the transport of large freight platforms such as 30 standard 20-foot containers or 15 articulated lorries. Above this sits the mezzanine deck, which has space for smaller vehicles such as cars. If both the vehicle deck and the mezzanine deck are used purely for car transport purposes, up to 239 cars can be accommodated on each trip.

Entry to the vehicle deck is via shore-mounted ramps at the stern while port and starboard articulated ramps provide direct access to the mezzanine deck.

The use of extensive lighting and openings at the foredeck and stern provide a high degree of natural light and air movement through the vehicle deck. To prevent tyre skid, a low maintenance and durable bead blast coating has been applied to deck surfaces. All vertical structural steel members are painted bright yellow so obstructions to vehicles or passenger movement are easily spotted and avoided.

Four Caterpillar C9.3 250ekW marine generators supply electrical power for all onboard systems.

Click here for the other news, features and reviews comprising this month’s Passenger Vessel Week.

Buccoo Reef
Type of vessel:Ro-Pax Ferry
Classification:DNV +1A1 HSLC R1 Car Ferry “B” EO
Port of registry:Port of Spain
Flag:Trinidad and Tobago
Owner:National Infrastructure Development Company, Trinidad and Tobago
Operator:National Infrastructure Development Company, Trinidad and Tobago
Designer:Revolution Design, Australia
CAD software:AutoCad
Builder:Incat Tasmania, Australia
Hull construction material:Aluminium
Superstructure construction material:Aluminium
Deck construction material:Aluminium
Length overall:100 metres
Length waterline:92.4 metres
Beam:26.6 metres
Draught:3.7 metres
Deadweight tonnage:760
Gross tonnage:6,726
Net tonnage:2,018
Capacity:239 cars (or 175 truck lane metres plus 182 cars)
Main engines:4 x MAN 16V 28/33 STC, each 7,280 kW
Gearboxes:4 x ZF 53500NR2H
Propulsion:4 x waterjets
Generators:4 x Caterpillar C9.3, each 250 ekW
Maximum speed:45 knots
Cruising speed:39.5 knots
Hydraulic equipment:Incat
Electronics supplied by:Taylor Marine
Radars:Furuno FAR2218/PM/HSC X-band; Furuno FAR2238S/PM/HSC S-band
Depth sounder:Furuno FE-800
Radios:2 x Furuno FM-8900S VHF/DSC; Furuno FS-1575 150W MF/HF SSB/DSC Radiotelephone
Satcom:Furuno Felcom-18 with SSAS
Compass:Cassens and Plath overhead magnetic compass
GMDSS:3 x Jotron Tron TR30
GPS:Furuno GP-170
AIS:Furuno FA-170
Audio/video system:Ultimate Marine Power Sytems
Alarm/monitoring system:Cromerty
Cameras/night vision:Current Corp Night Navigator HSC
Other electronics:CCTV cameras
Capstan/windlass:RIMS; HyPac
Other equipment installed:Naiad Dynamics active trim tabs and retractable T-foil; passenger lifts; HVAC
Interior lighting:SAL
External lighting/searchlight:E&E; DOSE
Floor/deck surface finishes:Signature carpet; Amtico hard floors
Interior designer:Incat
Interior fitout/furnishings:Ayres cabinetry; Incat bars and tables; vehicle deck; mezzanine deck
Safety equipment:Marine evacuation slides
Liferafts:11 x 100-pax rafts
Rescue boats:2 x Palfinger SOLAS-certified self-propelled dinghies
Type of fuel:Diesel
Fuel capacity:423,000 litres
Freshwater capacity:6,500 litres
Sewage/blackwater capacity:5,000 litres
Accommodation:VIP lounge; midships lounge; aft lounge; purser’s office; bars; toilets; toilet/nursing room; patient transport area; ship’s office with lounge; crew cabins

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