VESSEL REVIEW | Zarifa Aliyeva – Azerbaijan’s newest large-capacity rail ferry built for Caspian Sea sailings

Photo: ASCO

Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping Company (ASCO) recently took delivery of the second vessel in a series of two locally-built Ro-Pax ferries that are also capable of transporting railroad cars.

Named after a famed Azerbaijani physician who is also the mother of the country’s current president Ilham Aliyev, the all-steel Zarifa Aliyeva was built for ASCO by Baku Shipyard to a design developed by Russia’s Marine Engineering Bureau (MEB) in compliance to Russian Maritime Register of Shipping class rules.

The new ferry has an LOA of 154.5 metres, a beam of 17.5 metres, a draught of 4.5 metres, and a deadweight of 5,757 tonnes.

Like its earlier Project CNF18C sister vessel Azerbaijan, Zarifa Aliyeva was designed to carry 100 passengers, 56 rail cars with a rail beam of 1,520 mm each, and up to 50 lorries. All wheeled and rail freight is loaded and unloaded via stern ramps. The ramps are configured to allow cargo operations to be carried out at most berths within Azerbaijan without the need for specialised equipment.

The vessel’s open top deck will be used for the transport of hazardous goods in compliance to IMDG Code and MADR Regulations. However, the top deck may also be used for rail freight. MEB considered the open top deck a necessary design element for greater safety when operating in the Caspian Sea.

Photo: MEB

For transferring freight between the main deck and the lower deck, there is a double track cargo lift with a capacity of 188 tonnes and a length of 25 metres.

The ferry’s propulsion arrangement consists of two 2,600kW diesel engines driving controllable-pitch propellers. The engines are also designed to be capable of running on heavy fuel oil as an alternative to diesel. When operating at 85 per cent MCR, the engines can deliver a speed of 14.7 knots. At more economical cruising speeds, the ferry can sail up to 2,500 nautical miles.

As is the case with Azerbaijan, the arrangement of the main and auxiliary engines on Zarifa Aliyeva was done symmetrically. In case of fire and/or flooding, the incident can be contained in one side of the ship, allowing all the propulsion machinery in the opposite compartment to remain operable. Sufficient propulsion power is therefore available to enable the vessel to head to the nearest port unassisted.

Power for the onboard systems is drawn from four 300kW diesel generators. A fifth 300kW generator will be for emergency use. To perform tighter manoeuvres, the ferry relies on fore and aft 350kW thrusters.

The passenger berth spaces include two large double cabins and 24 standard double cabins. All passenger cabins are equipped with en suite toilets.

Other accommodation spaces include a duty-free shop, a restaurant with seating for up to 50 people, a game saloon with bar, a smoking room, and a medical compartment with an outpatient clinic, a single-bed hospital, and an isolation ward.

Should evacuation of the vessel become necessary, there are two marine evacuation systems (MES) with liferafts and chutes. MEB said up to 582 people can be evacuated in 30 minutes through the use of the MES.

Click here to read other news stories, features, opinion articles, and vessel reviews as part of this month’s Passenger Vessel Week.

Zarifa Aliyeva
Type of vessel:Ro-Pax ferry
Classification:Russian Maritime Register of Shipping
Owner:Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping Company
Designer:Marine Engineering Bureau, Russia
Builder:Baku Shipyard, Azerbaijan
Hull construction material:Steel
Superstructure construction material:Steel
Deck construction material:Steel
Length overall:154.5 metres
Beam:17.5 metres
Draught:4.5 metres
Deadweight tonnage:5,757 tonnes
Capacity:56 rail cars; 50 lorries
Main engines:2 x 2,600 kW
Propulsion:2 x controllable-pitch propellers
Generators:5 x 300 kW
Maximum speed:14.7 knots
Range:2,500 nautical miles
Type of fuel:Diesel; heavy fuel oil
Accommodation:Double cabins; duty-free shop; restaurant; game saloon; smoking room; hospital
Operational area:Caspian Sea

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