Launching of the ro-ro vessel Ferrymar

The signature name for its Caribbean service, Ferrymar is about to become eponymous with the latest Marfret vessel under construction in China, set to replace the Marin. The vessel’s launching took place on 5th May last, with delivery scheduled in August. It was an exciting moment for all the teams involved, that you can watch on this video.

The Marin, long a familiar sight for Caribbean islanders, is seeing out its last few months of service as a Marfret vessel. The company is about to begin a new chapter in its history of serving the Caribbean with the construction of a purpose-built ro-ro vessel. “This is a really exciting project, one that again underlines our total commitment to serving the overseas territories,” says a delighted Marfret managing director Guillaume Vidil, holding an impressive 1/200th scale model of the ship.

For many months now, the Chinese shipyards of Jiansu Dajin Heavy Industry Co, have been busy welding together the steel jigsaw on the banks of the Yangtse River, under the supervision of a dedicated multinational team assembled for the Marfret project.

The launching is an important event in more ways than one, since it marks the start of the navigability trials and the payment of the fourth instalment for the construction.

The ro-ro vessel was designed in collaboration with the Chinese engineering firm Sdari, which drew up the initial design based on Marfret’s requirements. Supervision of the project was entrusted to Alwena Shipping.

The vessel’s characteristics are specifically adapted inter-island navigation. With its length of 120m and 22m beam, the Ferrymar will have a load capacity of 1200 linear metres, exceeding that of the Marin. Its three decks will be able to carry more trailers, accompanied and unaccompanied, as well as a greater number of containers.

With its car deck headroom of 10 metres, the Ferrymar has an expected service life of around 30 years. The ship is equipped with twin screws powered by an engine featuring the latest technological innovations in terms of fuel efficiency, making it compliant with the most stringent EEDI standards.

Over the past few years, Marfret has continued to reinforce its presence in the West Indies.

The Ferrymar service connects the ports of Marigot, Gustavia, Pointe-à-Pitre and Fort-de-France, acting as a vector for the strengthening of economic ties between the four Caribbean islands. The aim is to create a large enough market for local industry to develop, making the islands less dependent on imports and helping bring down the cost of living locally.

Amid social unrest, river transport shows its advantages.

Once again, river transport has shown its appropriateness. While the ports were heavily impacted by the strikes over the recent law on extending retirement age, Marfret and its FFA subsidiary were working flat out to evacuate goods stuck at Le Havre.

While all road access to the Le Havre terminals was closed, our FFA subsidiary’s Lydia was able to evacuate 300 TEUs to the port of Rouen at each port call. This river-ocean vessel does not have to negotiate any locks on the Seine between Le Havre and Rouen, a huge advantage when lockkeepers are on strike.

We witnessed a substantial increase in volumes on the Lydia and the arrival of a new clientele realizing the efficiency of this massified and environmentally friendly solution for their pre- and post-carriage requirements.

The mobilization and responsiveness of our teams also allowed the Marfret Niolon to call at Rouen on 21st March last instead of Le Havre, which meant cargo arriving from the West Indies and French Guiana could be dispatched on barges to the Paris area.

It is worth reminding that Marfret offers 14 days free time at it Rouen hub, against only four provided by Le Havre.

Together, through their efforts, Marfret and its FFA branch have demonstrated both the outstanding success of the river alternative from Le Havre and the need to enhance the visibility of Rouen Vallée de Seine. It is a virtuous model, and guaranteeing its continued existence is vital without waiting for road transport to grind to a halt once again.

Massive investment in new 20’ and 40’ reefers for the Pacific routes

The 20’ reefer still has a bright future! Even though shipping companies, in a bid to boost productivity, are progressively ditching the smaller format in favour of the 40’, Marfret has chosen to adapt to its customers’ requirements and offer a mix for greater flexibility.

Productivity, savings, or shippers’ satisfaction? On balance, Marfret considers that its customers’ take precedence and is offering Australian and New Zealand shippers a choice of 20’ and 40’ containers for their temperature-controlled export consignments.

Bucking the trend put in place by cellular container ship operators, who opt for 40’ containers in order to lower handling costs, Marfret is partially replacing the 750 20’ reefers actually on lease with brand new, wholly owned boxes on order from CIMC in Taicang, China.

“The purchase of 300 20’ reefers shows our long-term commitment to this market. Once delivered at the end of May, the containers will be shipped directly to Australia and New Zealand from Shanghai,” says Marfret’s managing director Guillaume Vidil. This new order follows the purchase of 300 40’HC reefers delivered in February 2023. “Two hundred of these were shipped to Melbourne, Brisbane and Tauranga and 100 to the Caribbean,” adds Gilles Gallinaro, Marfret’s logistics manager. The reefer boxes are intended for the major beef and lamb export traffics out of Australia and New Zealand, mainly to the United States. With 520,000 tonnes equivalent carcass weight exported each year, this is one of the most important sectors of the Australian economy, worth 1.23bn$ annually. “Marfret’s decision to continue providing 20’ reefers follows shipping companies’ withdrawal from the market, since customers need the two types of container depending on the type and volumes of goods being shipped,” explains Véronique Passarelli, NASP (North Atlantic South Pacific) line manager.  

Marfret Pacific zone agents’ conference

The customers’ requests to make 20’ reefers available was a major discussion topic at the conference of Marfret’s Pacific zone agents that took place in New Zealand last February.

“The get-together was an opportunity to strengthen ties between agents and identify potential synergies between regions as well as opportunities,” adds Passarelli. The possibility of a regional services was another topic of discussion; Marfret has operated services to Oceania since 1995.

During their visit to Tahiti, Guillaume Vidil and Véronique Passarelli, together with Marfret’s local representative Hervé Godard, were received by the President of French Polynesia and his ministers.

It was an opportunity for Guillaume Vidil to underline the company’s attachment to Papeete, the flagship port call on its NASP service and gateway to all of Polynesia’s islands for fresh produce from France.