The double-ended ferry La Gironde has been in service at Europe’s largest river mouth, the Garonne estuary, since 2002. With the sister vessel L’Estuaire even more tourists will now be able to pass the popular river mouth in order to reach the sea faster by car.
Each of the structurally identical ships is fitted with four Voith Schneider Propellers (VSP) class 21 GII/135, driven by four 1080 kW diesel engines. Both vessels have to meet draught limits of just 8.5 ft but still reach a speed of 13.6 knots.
Other external obstacles that the ferries have to overcome are the tidal differences in the estuary caused by strong tidal currents. La Gironde excels by its high sailing stability and reliability. The operator Conseil Général de la Gironde therefore ordered a structurally identical second vessel, which has been built by Chantier Piriou shipyards in Concarneau in Brittany. L’Estuaire has a total length of 256 ft and is 60 ft wide. Apart from 600 passengers, 138 cars or six trucks and another 93 cars can be accommodated on the crossing from Verdon sur Mer to Royan.
In the near future, another two double-ended ferries with VSPs will enter service. On the Rhone, it will be the Barcarain V, measuring 141 ft in length and 46 ft in width, fitted with two VSPs size 16R5 EC/120-1.
The new ferry is driven by two 520-kW engines and can carry a maximum of 200 passengers and 36 cars (or 24 cars and four trucks). The ferry operates on 22 hours every day and has to comply with strict environmental regulations in the conservation area of the Camarque.
The Bac 23, another VSP-driven double-ended ferry, is about to enter service on the Seine. It features four VSPs type 12R4 EC/75-1 and is driven by four 260-kW engines. At a length of 104.6 ft and a width of 57.4 ft, it can hold 200 passengers and 28 cars. Both ferries are operated by public authorities.