Ro-ro traffic requires precision and efficiency
The large ro-ro & ro-pax ferries that dock at Norra Hamnen in Malmö require great precision and intimate collaboration between the mate and the CMP team.
As “Finneagle” reverses into Norra Hamnen in Malmö, the big ramps are lowered to meet its bow, and a fully kitted-out cyclist is the first to disembark. Truck after truck follows, with a few private cars in between. The giant Nordö ferry slowly empties, rising in the water as its heavy load is removed. That alone calls for close co-operation between the ship's mate and CMP's team leader, as the ramps can easily dislodge.
For CMP's 25-man staff, an intensive three-hour job has just begun. At 16:00, the ferry departs again, due to arrive in Travemünde about eight hours later. However, there is much to be done before then.
The staff are very skilled drivers – great precision is required to move vehicles up and down the narrow ramps and tightly pack them in on board without damaging them. When loading a trailer, a terminal tractor drives in under part of the vehicle. The two legs upon which the trailer rests, are turned upwards – and this part of the process requires considerable brute strength. The trailer is then driven on board and the process is repeated, but in reverse. If the weather forecast promises heavy seas, the vehicles are lashed down and not so tightly packed, but usually the vehicles are parked so close together that it is impossible to walk between them.
Ro-ro refers to loads that "roll on, roll off" the boats, i.e. vehicles. These vessels typically convey trucks, whose drivers take the time to rest and sleep during the crossing, and trailers and private cars. 70% of the cargo is transported on trucks with drivers who, like drivers of private cars, drive on and off the ferry. The remaining cargo is transported in trailers. The ferries are built so that loads can be easily driven on and off via ramps fore and aft.
Ro-pax refers to vessels designed so they have facilities to carry a great number of passengers.
Not only is the work of unloading and loading very heavy, the noise levels can also be extremely high at times. As a result, rubber is now used to dampen rumbling and crashing sounds where the ramps meet the quay. This work is also stressful because of its tight deadlines – the ferry departs again only a few hours later.
Nordö ro-pax ferries comprise most of the rolling traffic in CMP and depart from Norra Hamnen three times a day. Nordö-Link, one of CMP's biggest customers, is currently owned by Finnlines. CMP's six ro-ro berths at Malmö and four at the Freeport in Copenhagen operate around the clock to process vehicles as soon as they arrive. As well as the route to Germany, a ro-ro vessel departs for Helsinki once a week.
DFDS also carries trailers
DFDS ferry services from Denmark to Norway depart once a day. Many believe that DFDS is only a passenger shipping line, but it also carries ro-ro traffic and trailers. This combination of passenger and trailer traffic is also part of DFDS Tor Line, trailer services depart three times a week in each direction between the ferry terminal and the port city of Klaipeda on the west coast of Lithuania, DFDS Tor Line's main port for Russian and Baltic traffic.
Norra Hamnen – a green investment
In May 2011, ro-ro & pax traffic moved from Nyhamnen to the new terminal in Norra hamnen in Malmö. This moove makes it possible to further develop the whole company. The road network to and from the ships at Norra hamnen is broader and more flexible, when cars and trucks leave the ferries. CMP is also actively working to address environmental issues surrounding ro-ro traffic – the drive to and from ships is kept as short as possible, and the terminal tractors that load and unload trailers are carefully selected to be as environmentally friendly as possible. The rail network extend into Norra hamnen to receive trailers that will continue by train. The ferries themselves sail on diesel, which is more expensive than oil, but has a lower sulphur content.
Nordö ferries give drivers a break
Truck drivers have to rest, and do so on the boats between Malmö and Travemünde. This means that the future looks bright for traffic, even when the Fehmarn Belt Bridge is inaugurated in 2018. The ferries also take trucks off the roads. Nordö-Link has carried far more units since the inauguration of the Øresund Bridge in 2000.