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Brittany Ferries to Boost Fuel Economy of Flagship Vessel with ‘Duck Tail’

31st January 2024
Brittany Ferries Pont-Aven in Cork Harbour
Brittany Ferries Pont-Aven in Cork Harbour

Brittany Ferries is continuing its commitment to sustainability with an important upgrade to its flagship vessel, Pont-Aven.

The ferry that serves the Cork Harbour-Roscoff route will undergo economic upgrades to its hull to improve its hydrodynamic performance. 

As part of its annual technical stop, a 'duck tail' will be added to the vessel's stern. This upgrade is expected to increase the ship's length by about three meters, which will improve its hydrodynamic performance and boost fuel economy by around 10% when it returns to service in early 2024.

Hull model of the new design for Brittany Ferries  flagship vessel, Pont-AvenHull model of the new design for Brittany Ferries  flagship vessel, Pont-Aven

Sustainability is a critical aspect for any shipping company, and hydrodynamics plays a vital role in the industry. Reducing resistance while moving through water cuts fuel consumption and, therefore, emissions. This is why sleek design is such a crucial feature for Brittany Ferries' newest vessels, such as Santoña and Salamanca. 

The duck tail was chosen as a retrofit option for Pont-Aven, which began operations in 2004. The project started with Computational Fluid Dynamic simulations developed by the design office of Chantiers d'Atlantique in France. After a dozen proposed design tweaks were put through the program, engineers found little benefit in terms of fuel savings. That is why they turned to the stern.

Brittany Ferries' research and projects manager, Brice Robinson, explained that "when we looked at improvements in stern design, results of the CFD simulations were far more promising. In fact, the data pointed to a significant reduction of around ten percent with the addition of a duck tail, which was very exciting."

Brittany Ferries' research and projects manager, Brice Robinson Photo: Barry HaydenBrittany Ferries' research and projects manager, Brice Robinson Photo: Barry Hayden

A 300m long test pool at the Hamburg Ship Model Basin (HSVA) in Hamburg was where Pont-Aven's hull was originally tested in 2002 by Meyer Werft. Brittany Ferries' team flew to Germany to test three different duck tail shapes. All of them backed up data from the Computational Fluid Dynamic simulations, and the improvement was obvious the moment the first model took to the water.

The large HSVA model basin at Hamburg for testing the ferry designThe large HSVA model basin at Hamburg for testing the ferry design

The addition of the duck tail flattens the turbulent wake behind the transom, thereby reducing drag around the stern. This should be even more significant when applied to Brittany Ferries' flagship, as it will help compensate for the additional weight of her scrubber system, fitted in 2015. 

Basin tests in Hamburg of the new Ferry hull shapeBasin tests in Hamburg of the new Ferry hull shape

Pont-Aven was one of five ships in the Brittany Ferries' fleet to benefit from a clean-ship investment of around €90 million in scrubber installation, supported by ADEME. Brittany Ferries has also turned to drive-train partner Wartsila to investigate improved propeller design. This could lead to a further improvement of around 5% of propulsion efficiency when retrofitted to Pont-Aven at a later date.

Brittany Ferries has identified the most effective duck tail design, and the work is scheduled to coincide with Pont-Aven's planned technical break this November. With these upgrades, the company's flagship vessel will be more efficient and sustainable in the coming years.

Published in Brittany Ferries Team

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About Brittany Ferries

In 1967 a farmer from Finistère in Brittany, Alexis Gourvennec, succeeded in bringing together a variety of organisations from the region to embark on an ambitious project: the aim was to open up the region, to improve its infrastructure and to enrich its people by turning to traditional partners such as Ireland and the UK. In 1972 BAI (Brittany-England-Ireland) was born.

The first cross-Channel link was inaugurated in January 1973, when a converted Israeli tank-carrier called Kerisnel left the port of Roscoff for Plymouth carrying trucks loaded with Breton vegetables such as cauliflowers and artichokes. The story, therefore, begins on 2 January 1973, 24 hours after Great Britain's entry into the Common Market (EEC).

From these humble beginnings however, Brittany Ferries as the company was re-named quickly opened up to passenger transport, then became a tour operator.

Today, Brittany Ferries has established itself as the national leader in French maritime transport: an atypical leader, under private ownership, still owned by a Breton agricultural cooperative.

Eighty five percent of the company’s passengers are British.

Key Brittany Ferries figures:

  • Turnover: €202.4 million (compared with €469m in 2019)
  • Investment in three new ships, Galicia plus two new vessels powered by cleaner LNG (liquefied natural gas) arriving in 2022 and 2023
  • Employment: 2,474 seafarers and shore staff (average high/low season)
  • Passengers: 752,102 in 2020 (compared with 2,498,354 in 2019)
  • Freight: 160,377 in 2020 (compared with 201,554 in 2019)
  • Twelve ships operating services that connect France, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Spain (non-Covid year) across 14 routes
  • Twelve ports in total: Bilbao, Santander, Portsmouth, Poole, Plymouth, Cork, Rosslare, Caen, Cherbourg, Le Havre, Saint-Malo, Roscoff
  • Tourism in Europe: 231,000 unique visitors, staying 2.6 million bed-nights in France in 2020 (compared with 857,000 unique visitors, staying 8,7 million bed-nights in 2019).