Design and Feasibility of Modern of RoRo and Ropax Vessels

Decades ago, a few dedicated RoRo vessels were operated along with multi-purpose ferry services to reduce the on-road traffic. By the end of 90’s, the difference between these two segments blurred as new vessels were invented. These new, bigger and faster ships, called as RoPax vessels offer more space, comfy accommodation, separate vehicle terminals, easy loading unloading and better features as compared to previous generation ships.

RoRo vessels

Contemporary RoRo and RoPax Vessels

Roll on/ Roll off vessels have continuously evolved from the older generation ferries. Passengers and vehicles have different requirements and individual demands on ship space and access. Thus, the architectures and engineering of these ships go through continuous changes.

Depending on the route the ship is plying and the market it is serving, the two RoRo concepts came into existence:

  • The RoPax vessels are ships that are basically designed to load trailers and where there are accommodations for the drivers and sometimes have additional spaces for some passengers.
  • The cruise ferry is a ship that possesses the features of Ro-Pax vessel and cruise liner. Many passengers travel for the pleasure voyage, not leaving the ship and staying at the destination port only for a few hours, whereas others travel for the sake of transportation.

RoRo/ RoPax, prevailing sea states and distances

Despite the availability of low fare air travels and low-cost car rentals, the seasonal demand for RoPax vessels have not demeaned. On short distances, which can be covered within a couple of hours, cabin accommodation for passengers is normally limited and aircraft style seating is more popular. Based on the routes, sailing times vary.

These ships can swiftly travel through unprotected waters and can also overcome severe climate and rough sea conditions. When the ships cover medium distances, the travel time is more than 6 hours and night stay on the ship may be involved. During such trips, cabin accommodation facility for passengers is essential.

Some of the technologies applied to perk up competitiveness of RoPax and RoRo vessels for sales are as follows:

  • Quantification of target market
  • Auto preparation of ship pre-loading plans
  • Installation of an information management system
  • Application of an e-book system
  • Technologies to assist speedy ship turnaround in Port
  • Integrated trailers management on terminals

Factors to be examined

The factors to be examined include ramps; quays; access bridges for RoRo and passenger traffic. One must also investigate land installations which include passenger facilities, space for loading and unloading of vehicles, effects of future climate changes, technical design, security and safety requirements. Requirements for upgrading existing terminals and new terminals should also be taken into consideration.

In order to meet the needs of RoRo market, vessels are designed with contemporary features, greater capacity, upgraded berths, terminals and ramps. The final production of the vessel is based on the guidelines and recommendations for the design and operation of both RoPax and RoRo terminals

Functionality and Uses of RoRo and RoPax Vessels

Whether you have passengers on the ship for leisure or a combo of passengers and vehicles, comfortable features and top-notch facilities are essential to stay ahead of the competition in today’s market. Fast loading and unloading; flexible cargo solutions and separate as well as safe zones for passengers and cargo are important.

RoPax and RoRo ships sail on every ocean and their uses are extensive. Despite the fact that these vessels come in many shapes and sizes, the trend goes on for larger ships with better options for quick loading and unloading.

Ropax Vessels

RoPax is a short form used to illustrate ships with roll-on and roll-off features for the carriage of commercial vehicles and private cars with the provision to accommodate large numbers of passengers separately, for shorter voyages. In this regard, the word “RoPax” means “passenger RoRo vessel.

As these ships contain features that are a mix of both passenger and cargo, changes in concept and size may lead to new challenges for terminal designs. When the size of the ship increases, the stress increases on both quay equipment and quays, as well as sea floor corrosion because of strong thrusters. The RoPax and RoRo vessels are predicted to flourish even more in the upcoming years.

Especially in Europe, the huge potential for this booming usage of RoPax and RoRo vessels is mainly to reduce the traffic on roads. ‘Highway at Sea’ is the only ‘highway’ in the world which has no traffic jams. Most likely, marketers are trying to give it a try in a better way.

Objectives of the Operational Team

Today’s RoRo terminals contain large spaces dedicated for storage of trailers and cars, exclusively. RoPax ships comprise both stern quarter ramps and stern ramps. For better capacity of loading an unloading vehicles, these new RoRo and RoPax vessels can also have bow and side ramps.

New terminal layouts and facilities will be needed with combined RoPax ships. In some instances, the terminal locations can also be changed to provide safety to the passengers, both for driving and walking. A big challenge for combined terminals is that they require more space.

With the increasing focus over the usage of RoPax and RoRo for numerous purposes, both on domestic and international routes will fetch new requirements for these features and facilities, with new risks. Therefore, risk assessment on the combined terminals is the prime need of the hour.

When it comes to providing safe, well-organized and cost-effective operations of the vessels, the designers, operators and owners of RoPax and RoRo terminals and infrastructure follow a set of operational rules globally. The guidance contains topics and information in addition to the existing standards. The topics covered are of great help to engineers, designers as well as operators.