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New concepts in ferry propulsion

AU T H O R : Os ka r Leva n d e r, M .Sc. (N av. A rch . ), G en era l Ma na ge r, Conce ptua l Desig n, Ship Powe r, Wä rtsilä in Finla nd

Fig. 1 – New ferry design with clear economic advantages.

The demands for lower bunkering and a contra rotating propeller behind it the past. Expectations are that prices will
costs and reduced greenhouse mounted on a pulling mechanical thruster. remain high and may continue to increase.
emissions have become two of the The machinery has been configured This has led to a situation where the fuel
main drivers in the field of ferry to keep the initial cost low by avoiding cost has become even more significant
design. In competing with other expensive electric pods and drives, and to the total operating costs of a ferry.
modes of transport, the existing by going to a simple mechanical drive of At the same time, the public is
well-proven solutions might not the forward propeller using a large bore focusing more and more on climate
be the most effective. main engine. A novel machinery and cargo change, and the pressure on the industry
ramp arrangement has been developed to to reduce greenhouse emissions is
Wärtsilä is conducting continuous facilitate also very large main engines, which becoming ever more evident. The EU
development to meet the need for lower are too high to fit under the main deck. has set a target to reduce CO2 emissions
power demand and fewer emissions. Both fuel consumption, and therefore by 20%. The shipping industry must
In striving for these goals, Wärtsilä also exhaust emissions, can be reduced be ready to meet this challenge.
has during recent years proposed a by more than 10% with this new Both of these factors emphasize
number of innovative propulsion concept. Overall, the new concept offers the increasing importance of fuel
solutions for ferries. The latest in this a very attractive economic solution that efficiency. Low consumption has, of
series of ferry propulsion development represents state-of-the-art propulsion course, always been a target to strive
concepts is presented herewith. technology, while relying on well for, but these latest developments mean
By combining the positive experience proven and reliable components. that ship owners not only should,
and very high propulsion efficiency of but indeed have a real incentive in
the podded contra rotating propeller STRIVING FOR LOWER FUEL CONSUMPTION seeking low consumption solutions.
(CRP) concept, with the advances in During the last couple of years, the
thruster technology and ship design, a new shipping industry has witnessed a Looking beyond the conventional
propulsion machinery concept has been significant increase in fuel prices. The price The conventional large displacement
developed. The concept features a direct has fluctuated both up and down, but is ferry machinery used today is usually
driven controllable pitch (CP) propeller, in general at a much higher level than in based on twin shaft lines, with twin p

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CP propellers driven by two or four

medium-speed diesel engines. This
arrangement has proven itself as both
functional and reliable. However, the
shortcoming to this propulsion set-up is
that the long shaft lines below the hull,
together with the other appendages, give
rise to high resistance. Therefore, if an
alternative solution that eliminates the
need for shaft lines can be found, lower
power demand could be achieved.
The appendage resistance of a ferry
can be as high as 10-15% of the total
resistance. Furthermore, the risk of
pressure side cavitation at low speed
operation is always apparent with CP
propellers, which are needed in this
type of mechanical propulsion. The
engines are also run at low load while Fig. 2 – CRP RoPax with fixed ramp in the centre to the upper cargo deck.
manoeuvring and during slow speed
operation. This is not desirable from the
point of view of engine performance. 8000
Ferries need good manoeuvring
Fuel and lub oil consumption costs (TEUR)

characteristics since they have frequent 7000

port calls and while in port, need short
turnaround capabilities. Twin shaft 6000
lines with twin rudders offer quite good
manoeuvring performance, but some 5000
ferries still need more side thrust than can
be generated with the rudders alone, so 4000
Lube oil cost
additional tunnel thrusters are installed
Fuel oil costs
in the stern. Single screw arrangements 3000
are quite rare in modern ferry tonnage.
Medium-speed 4-stroke diesel engines 2000
dominate the ferry market. Only very few
ferries have 2-stroke diesel engines, which 1000

are otherwise the most common type of

engine in large cargo vessels operating 0
Twinshaft CRP Thruster CRP Thruster CRP Thruster
over long distances on the open sea. The Wärtsilä 7RT-flex60 Wärtsilä 8L64 Wärtsilä 16V46
popularity of the 2-stroke engine for cargo
vessels is based upon its low maintenance Fig. 3 – Annual fuel and lube oil costs. (HFO=230 EUR/ton).
demand, low fuel consumption and
on its reputation for high reliability.
The main reasons why 2-stroke they actually need to have at least two in common in that they have gone away
engines are not used in ferries is because engines. Twin large 2-stroke engines from the traditional twin shaft line set-
the large cross head engines do not fit would effectively close up the entire up, and instead use a propeller mounted
beneath the main cargo deck. This main deck in the stern of the vessel and on the centre line skeg combined with
means that there would need to be an make cargo handling almost impossible. either one or two azimuthing propulsors.
engine trunk on the main cargo deck to This fact further contributes to the
house the 2-stroke engine. This trunk reasons why we have not seen many The Podded CRP
would interfere with cargo handling ferries with 2-stroke main engines. The Podded CRP concept features a
over the stern, and would reduce the contra-rotating propeller on an electric
available lane meters (freight capacity). ADVANCED PROPULSION pod located directly behind the main
Space is a design issue for ferries as they CONCEPTS FROM WÄRTSILÄ propeller in the centre line skeg. The
are considered to be volume-critical, In recent years, Wärtsilä has put forward pod propeller is of the fixed pitch
rather than weight-critical vessels. a number of new propulsion concepts (FP) type, while the main propeller
As ferries need twin screws in most for ferries. These include, Podded CRP, is of the controllable pitch (CP) type.
cases for manoeuvring purposes, and Wing Pods and Wing Thrusters [2, 3, 4, Compared to a conventional vessel
to allow some degree of redundancy, 5]. These all have one important feature fitted with twin screws, the Podded

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CRP configuration offers better Heavy Industries. The ferries have a Most ferries are ordered in Europe and
hydrodynamic efficiency. This is service speed of 30.5 knots and a top not all owners have concrete feedback
mainly due to the following reasons: speed of 32 knots. The ship features regarding the performance of the Japanese
a CODED machinery with two 12- vessels. The ferries on order have also
n The resistance of the single skeg cylinder Wärtsilä 46 medium-speed been designed for lower speeds than the
hull form with a single pod is engines in V-configuration, driving two existing CRP vessels. The question
lower than that of a twin screw a CP propeller, two similar Wärtsilä among owners is of course, how big
hull with two shaft lines. 12V46 engines driving the generators, the savings will be for a slower vessel.
n The aft propeller takes advantage of the and one smaller genset for use in port. One of the most important reasons,
rotative energy left in the slipstream The total installed propulsion power is however, is still likely to be cost. The
of the forward propeller when it 42.8 MW, with 17.6 MW on the pod investment cost of a CRP ferry is
rotates in the opposite direction. and 25.2 MW on the forward propeller higher than for a conventional twin
n The skeg offers a more favourable (41/59 power split). The ships have been shaft ferry. In particular, the electric
wake than a shaft line, resulting performing very well. A comparison pod is expensive and increases the
in better hull efficiency (ƦH). with conventional ships in the Shin investment costs. Nevertheless, it is easy
Nihonkai Ferry fleet shows that a 20% to show that the CRP will pay for itself
The improvement in propulsion reduction in fuel consumption can easily within a reasonable timeframe [2, 3].
efficiency is clear, but the level of be reached. This does not take into A higher initial price though, can still
improvement depends on the vessel account the fact that the new ships are be a critical item for owners trying to
in question. The reduction in power 1 knot faster and take 15% more cargo [1]. finance the ship in the first place.
demand at the propeller measured in Another aspect of the cost issue is
model tests, has usually been in the range Market slow to take advantage the sister ship effect. It is always more
of 10-17% better efficiency compared The Podded CRP concept has proved expensive for a shipyard to build a
to twin screw vessels. Even higher itself in two full scale applications and prototype vessel, such as the CRP vessel
values have also been reported [6]. has delivered better fuel savings than would be, rather than a repeat vessel.
The Podded CRP concept has actually estimated. However, to date we have Even though many of the ferries on
been applied in two fast Japanese not seen any surge in new orders. At the order today seem to be of a new design,
ferries, and the beneficial features same time, there have been plenty of they are often based on, and have many
of the concept have been verified orders for conventional ferry concepts. similarities to a previous ship. This
in actual operating conditions. One has to ask, therefore, why it is that makes it increasingly difficult for the
ferry owners are not taking advantage of introduction of any new designs.
Japanese ferries showcase efficiencies the opportunity for fuel cost savings.
The first ferries featuring Podded There is probably not one conclusive NEW CONCEPT OFFERS LOWER
CRP propulsion, the Hamanasu and answer to this question, but one can INVESTMENT COSTS
the Akashia, entered into service in speculate as to the possible reasons. One Wärtsilä has developed a new concept
Japan in 2004. These two ferries are fact is that the CRP is still a rather new that is relying on the good features of
operated by the Shin Nihonkai Ferry concept, despite its operational track CRP propulsion, while at the same
Line, and were built by Mitsubishi record stretching back almost 3 years. time attempting to overcome some p

Fig. 4 – X-ray view of a vessel showing the new concept with a large main engine.

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Fig. 5 – X-ray view of a vessel showing new engine locations.

of the current shortcomings. located in the centre of the vessel above on the market, the Wärtsilä 64.
The new concept features a Contra the shaft line of the forward propeller. The new arrangement efficiently
Rotating Propeller pair with the forward This means that the engine is located overcomes some of the problems
propeller mounted on the centre line higher up than where normally situated associated with high engines in ferries.
skeg, and the aft propeller on a pulling- in ferries. The engine compartment With a conventional propulsion solution,
type steerable mechanical thruster located penetrates the main deck. two large engines would close up the
directly aft of the forward propeller. The forward propeller is driven in entire beam of the main deck. Since the
When looking from the outside, this the traditional manner by one or two engines in the new proposal are behind
set-up looks very similar to the existing engines. The engines are located in the each other, two engines will not take up
CRP arrangement with an electric centre of the vessel at tank top level. more than two lanes on the main deck.
pod. It also acts in the same way hydro The machinery forms a very compact This is only one more than anyway
dynamically. However, the difference is package that is higher than normal, but occupied by the normal engine casing.
on the inside of the thruster. The electric much narrower. The machinery can also This means that only very few lane
motor is replaced by a mechanical drive be pulled further aft than in a twin shaft meters are lost on the main deck. In
system with two 90° bevel gears. vessel, since the single skeg hull form addition, the shorter engine room allows
The most obvious benefit of this is allows the reduction gear to be located for a longer lower cargo hold, which
that it allows for fully diesel-mechanical further aft. The thruster engine, because compensates for the lost lane meters.
machinery, while at the same time of its high location, is also very far aft.
significantly lowering investment costs. Cargo arrangement is also innovative
Machinery also suitable for An innovative cargo deck arrangement
Savings achieved via new large main engines goes hand in hand with the new
machinery arrangement The new machinery arrangement also machinery concept. A wide ramp from
The novelty of the new propulsion concept provides some new options when it the stern of the vessel to the upper
is in the machinery arrangement that makes comes to engine selection. The narrow cargo deck can be located on top of the
it both practically feasible for a ferry and and high machinery is well suited for machinery. The fixed two-lane ramp
also economically superior to all other a large main engine that is higher than above the engines will utilize the space
machinery alternatives on the market today. normally. The main engines could on the main deck, that would otherwise
The aft thruster is driven mechanically be, for example, a 2-stroke engine or be lost to the machinery compartments,
by a medium-speed diesel engine the very largest medium-speed engine efficiently. In this way, the entire beam

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of the vessel can be used for loading. have a CRP propulsion arrangement n Payload 5150 ton
The two centre lanes lead directly to the but with different main engines. The n Speed 24 knots (15% SM, 85% MCR)
upper cargo deck without any interfering five machinery alternatives studied are:
with the loading operation on the main The ship design is kept similar, but
deck. There are three lanes to the main n Twin shaft, 4 x Wärtsilä 9L38 the main dimensions are varied to offer
deck on each side of the centre ramp n CRP, 7-cylinder an optimized solution. This provides
and engine casing. The new cargo Wärtsilä RT-flex60 + Wärtsilä 8L38 the ideal way by which to compare
arrangement is of course, best suited for n CRP, Wärtsilä 16V46 + Wärtsilä 8L38 different machinery alternatives.
ports with only single level loading. n CRP, 2 x Wärtsilä 8L46 It would be wrong to start with a certain
+ Wärtsilä 8L38 hull and then see how much cargo can
NEW SHIP DESIGNS MADE n CRP, Wärtsilä 8L64 + Wärtsilä 8L38 be fitted into it after the machinery is
A few new ferry designs have been made in place. This is, however, the method
using different machinery solutions. One The vessels are designed to offer the often used for similar machinery
design is of a ferry with conventional same capacity and performance: comparisons, but it represents the wrong
twin-screw machinery, while all the other n Lane meter 2400 m approach. It means that one or more
of the alternatives are not optimized.
The method used here is to start
from the mission of the vessel, and
then design a ship to meet this mission.
Of course, the principle behind the
- 500,000 EUR design process should be similar to
100 arrive at comparable end results.
Machinery investment cost (%)


80 Propulsion train
RoPax particulars
Electric system
The ferry represents a contemporary
RoPax vessel with 2400 lane meters for
60 Gensets + generators
cargo and day facilities, for a limited
Propulsion engine
number of passengers. The main
40 dimensions are presented in Table 1.
The CRP ferry with a main engine
below the main deck can have the
same dimensions as the conventional
twin shaft ferry and still offer the
0 same cargo capacity. There is some
Twinshaft CRP, Thruster CRP, Thruster
Wärtsilä 7RT-flex60 Wärtsilä 16V46 reduction in lane meters by way of
the thruster engine compartment.
Fig. 6 – Relative machinery equipment investment costs. However, this is compensated by a
larger lower cargo hold made possible
by the shorter engine room.
10,000 The CRP machinery option with a high
- 6% - 3% - 9% main engine going through the main deck,
9000 Maintenance costs* and with the ramp above the machinery,
- 865,000 EUR
Lubricating oil costs cannot offer the same cargo capacity,
Fuel oil costs unless the length of the ship is increased.
7000 Annual extra capital cost
Annual costs (TEUR)

Annual capital costs** The different machinery options have
5000 been compared with each other as follows:
Assumed fuel price:
4000 HFO 230 EUR/ton
3000 *Maintenance cost The CRP machinery option shows an
Spare parts only advantage when it comes to weight.
2000 Calculation period 15 years Even with the low speed engine, the
1000 **Capital cost assumptions:
weight is at the same level as with
Calculation period 12 years conventional twin shaft machinery.
0 Interest rate 8%
Twinshaft CRP Thruster CRP Thruster CRP Thruster
Wärtsilä 7RT-flex60 Wärtsilä 8L64 Wärtsilä 16V46 Power demand and fuel consumption
The power demand of the vessel has been
Fig. 7 – Annual machinery related costs. calculated and compared with results from p

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previous CRP model tests that Wärtsilä THE NEW CRP CONCEPT OFFERS saving of up to EUR 850,000. All in all,
has been involved in. The delivered A COMPETITIVE SOLUTION the new concept offers a very competitive
power demand of the CRP propulsion There is increasing demand for the ferry solution that is a step in the right direction
is about 9.5-11% lower than that of the industry to begin focusing on greenhouse towards a cleaner ferry business.
twin-screw option. The larger saving is emissions. At the same time, high fuel
achieved with the option having the lower prices also call for a clear reduction in [1] Anderson L. - Wärtsilä Corporation,
Wärtsilä 46 medium-speed engines, as fuel consumption. A new propulsion ‘Hybrid CRP pods for large Japanese ferries’,
their weight is 400 tons less, due to the machinery concept based on CRP Marine News - Wärtsilä Customer Magazine
nr 1-2005, March 2005,
lighter machinery and the small ship. propulsion with a mechanical thruster, can
[2] Levander O., Sipilä H., Pakaste R.,
However, fuel consumption also offer a more than 10% reduction in both ‘ENVIROPAX ferries make promising
depends on the transmission losses, as fuel consumption and operating costs. progress’, Marine News - Wärtsilä Customer
well as the specific fuel oil consumption The nice feature of this concept is that it Magazine nr 1-2005, March 2005,
in each operating mode. The mechanical does not need to be more expensive than a [3] Levander O. - Wärtsilä Corporation,
thruster has higher transmission losses conventional solution despite its superior ‘Combined Diesel-Electric and Diesel
than a conventional shaft line owing to the performance. The investment costs can Mechanical Propulsion for a RoPax Vessel’,
two bevel gears. On the other hand, this actually be cheaper depending on main Marine News - Wärtsilä Customer Magazine
nr 3-2001, December 2001,
represents only 25% of the total power. engine selection. The unique arrangement [4] Levander O. - Wärtsilä Corporation, ‘Wing
The main engine in the CRP options is of also allows for efficient cargo handling, Thrusters propelling the next generation of
a larger type than in the twin shaft vessels. despite a small penalty in lost lane meters ferries’, The Scandinavian Shipping Gazette,
September 23rd , 2005
This gives lower SFOC. The total annual on the main deck. This can however be [5] Levander O. - Wärtsilä Corporation, ‘Novel
fuel consumption is shown in Figure 3. It compensated by increasing the ship size. propulsion machinery solutions for ferries’,
can be seen that the CRP option (Wärtsilä This fact is taken into account in the World Maritime Technology Conference,
16V46) offers the lowest fuel and lube oil comprehensive economic comparison London, 6-10 March 2006
[6] Praefke E., Richards J. and Engelskirchen
costs. The annual fuel and lube oil cost performed showing that all CRP J. - HSVA and Blohm+Voss, ‘Counter rotating
saving with the CRP is about 11-12.5%. options indicate clearly superior overall propellers without complex shafting for a fast
performance. The lowest total cost level monohull ferry’, Presentation at FAST 2001,
Southampton UK, September 2001
Investment costs is for the CRP concept with the Wärtsilä
The investment cost of each machinery 16V46 main engine. It has an annual
alternative has been estimated based
on equipment offers, and is shown in
Figure 6. It can be seen that the CRP
machinery with the smaller medium-
speed main engine offers the lowest
machinery equipment investment costs.
In addition to the machinery, other
building costs need to be assessed as well.
This has been done with a system model of
each vessel. The CRP alternative with the
low-speed engine is about 2 MEUR more
expensive than the other options, since its
hull is about 500 gt larger than the others. Fig. 8 – New ferry with mechanical thruster CRP propulsion.

Total machinery related costs

The total annual machinery costs are
Twin shaft CRP 2-stroke CRP Wärtsilä 16V46
shown for each alternative in Figure 7.
Length, oa 186.0 191.9 186.6 m
The annual operating costs are calculated
Length, bp 170.0 175.1 170.0 m
based on an assumed operating profile. Breadth 27.7 27.7 27.7 m
The investment costs are turned into Draught, design 7.0 7.0 7.0 m
annual payments over an assumed Depth 10.0 10.0 10.0 m
12 year period with 6% interest. Gross tonnage 28,500 29,000 28,500 gt
All of the CRP options indicate clear Deadweight 6700 6600 6600 ton
savings compared to a conventional Payload 5150 5150 5150 ton
twin shaft vessel. The CRP option with LWT 12,000 12,300 11,900 ton
the Wärtsilä 16V46 medium-speed Displacement 18,700 18,900 18,500 ton
engine is the most economical, with an Lanemeters 2410 2420 2410 m
annual saving of about EUR 850,000.

Table 1. – Main dimensions of the RoPax ferry.

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