construction of fast ferries made of carbon fibre composites
rødrene Aa is a world leader in the construction of fast ferries made of carbon fi bre composites. The
shipyard is located in Hyen on the west coast of Norway and employs 170 skilled workers. It is known for pioneering the use of composite materials for fast ferry applications, first with fi breglass composites in the 1970s and today with carbon fi bre composites. The yard’s boatbuilding traditions go back to 1947, and it has delivered a large range of vessels both for the domestic and international markets.
The shipyard Brødrene Aa has pioneered the development of fast ferries made of lightweight carbon fi bre composites. In 2001 the shipyard in Hyen built the world’s first carbon fi bre passenger boat. Since then, carbon fi bre vessels have gradually gained acceptance in the market, to the extent that Brødrene Aa has now supplied 56 of these boats to Norwegian and overseas customers. “When we launched the concept of lightweight, fuel-efficiency vessels made of carbon fi bre, there was a certain amount of scepticism in the market. Shipowners weren’t convinced by our promises of lower fuel consumption, and questioned the strength of the material. Today, more than ten years later, there is no longer any doubt about the properties of the material. We have supplied carbon fibre vessels to all of the big shipowning groups in Norway, and the first vessels have been operating smoothly for 15 years,” says Tor Øyvin Aa, Managing Director at Brødrene Aa.
Lower fuel consumption
The advantage of using carbon fiber is that you reduce the structural weight of the vessel by forty percent in comparison with conventional aluminum structures. This enables a positive lightweight cycle, where reduced structural weight leads to reduced power requirements which allow lighter engines and smaller fuel tanks to be installed. In total this gives very fuel efficiency vessels.
“In the Norwegian fast ferry market, fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions are key considerations. Ferry operators need efficiency and environmentally friendly vessels in order to win public tenders to operate routes. That is one of the main reasons why our carbon fi bre vessels have been so popular in the Norwegian market,” says Aa.
In recent years, there has also been growing international interest for carbon fibre vessels. Previously the shipyard delivered passenger catamarans to Sweden and Croatia, and recently two vessels have been delivered to China.
“We are experiencing increasing interest from overseas customers. Norway has traditionally been a pioneer in fast ferries, and the fact that our carbon fibre vessels have been accepted here gets noticed in international circles. We notice a general increase in new builds in the ferry industry and we are confident that there is a long-term future in the market,” says the company’s managing director.