CFT baptizes three new self-propelled vehicles on the Rhône

CFT baptizes three new self-propelled vehicles on the Rhône
CFT baptizes three new self-propelled vehicles on the Rhône

Purchased second-hand in the Netherlands, these three self-propelled barges were transported to Fos-sur-Mer by a semi-submersible vessel. Before their return to service, they were conditioned, cleaned, refurbished and brought up to the standards of the company, its customers and the regulatory requirements for navigation in the Rhône basin, “both from an HSE point of view and from a from a technical point of view, but also in terms of crew comfort for life on board and ergonomics,” specifies the Compagnie Fluviale de Transport. The first works were carried out at the Dutch Asto yard, with operations continuing after their arrival in France, at the CFT base in Loire-sur-Rhône, south of Lyon.

Irène Heric, Frédérique Bourgeois and Elise Thomazo, godmothers of very self-propelled vehicles.

Three godmothers from the industrial and river environment

In accordance with tradition at CFT, these self-propelled vehicles intended for the transport of liquid bulk have received wind names: Alba, Lombarde and Vésine. Their baptism took place simultaneously during a ceremony which took place on Thursday, May 23 in Loire-sur-Rhône, in the industrial-port zone of the Compagnie nationale du Rhône. In front of 150 guests, three godmothers, installed on the pusher Le Conquérant, each broke the traditional bottle of champagne on the hull of these boats: Elise Thomazo, head of the Operations department at TotalEnergies Raffinage France for Alba; Frédérique Bourgeois from the southern territorial direction of Voies navigables de France (VNF) for Vésine; and Irène Heric, Purchasing, Transport and Logistics Manager at Adisseo for Lombardy.


Baptism ceremony for the three new CFT self-propelled vehicles.

The three godmothers, Irène Heric, Frédérique Bourgeois and Elise Thomazo with the three captains of the motor vehicles.

Boats of 110 meters and 3600 m3

110 meters long and 11.4 meters wide, these three self-propelled boats offer a loading capacity of 3,600 m3. Intended to navigate the Rhône between Lyon and Marseille to transport biofuels, conventional fuels, gasoline bases and methanol, they are dedicated to customers or products for long-term contracts. Each is manned by a crew of five sailors. “In a context of a profession under tension, we are happy to have succeeded in forming three crews from different backgrounds: some bargemen previously sailed on container barge convoys, others on liquid bulk pusher/barge convoys and others on passenger transport. The feeling of belonging and pride is already very strong, because each crew takes ownership of their self-propelled vehicle and takes care of it! », explains Charles Drouet, director of CFT Rhône. Before starting navigation, the crews have already been hard at work to get to grips with their new unit and its documentation, carry out the tests and exercises, redo the labeling to identify all the controls, while ensuring the maintenance during the preparation period of the self-propelled vehicles, which took several months.

The crew of the self-propelled Vésine.

The self-propelled Vésine.

Two CFT pushers behind the three new self-propelled boats.

Transition from barge/pusher model to self-propelled

These new units also illustrate a fundamental trend within CFT, underlines the company, which has chosen to gradually evolve its fleet towards self-propelled, instead of the traditional model of barges without propulsion moved by pushers. “The self-propelled vehicle is intrinsically more energy efficient: the shape of the hull and the size of the engines make it possible to significantly reduce fuel consumption. A reduction of 20% is noted. In addition, the crews being more responsible on a self-propelled vehicle dedicated to them, maintenance and maintenance in operational conditions are optimal.” Two of the three crews of the new boats come from elsewhere from pushers.

The Alba and her crew.

Discovering Alba

On the sidelines of the naming ceremony of the three self-propelled aircraft, Mer et Marine was able to visit Alba. It is therefore an imposing 110 meter river boat capable of transporting 3600 m3 of liquid bulk in its tanks.

The Alba Bridge.

Loading ports.

Tank vent.

Cargo bilge pump.

Inspection hatch for a cistern.

Windlasses on the foredeck.

The wheelhouse of the Alba seen from its deck.


The wheelhouse of the self-propelled Albe.

View of the bridge from the wheelhouse.


The crew premises on the Alba with the canteen, bedrooms and toilets.

On the propulsion side, the Albe is equipped with a Caterpillar 3512 series diesel engine with a power of 2525 kW with a maximum speed of 1800 revolutions per minute on a shaft line with fixed pitch propeller. In addition to this propulsion engine, we also find in the rear machine compartment a 52 kW C18 generator, two hydraulic groups (one for the helm, the other for the wheelhouse raising cylinder which is removable to pass under certain structures overlooking the watercourses). Added to this are the ballast valves, those of the fire system connected to two pumps, as well as the hot water production equipment and the electrical cabinets.

The Caterpillar 3512 propulsion engine.


We find in the machines, in particular the rear compartment, the main engine, a GE, electrical panels, the hydraulic helm and wheelhouse group, the pumps and valves of the ballasts and the fire fighting system, the production equipment of Hot water…

The front room.

Group C18.

The bow thruster motor.

At the front engine, there is a second GE of 52 kW, as well as a much more powerful group of 426 kW used to power the ten cargo pumps, but also the 393 kW bow thruster motor which is located elsewhere in this room. This thruster works a bit like a hydrojet, by suction of water and possibility of modulated discharge (by adjustable flaps) at three points, port, starboard and aft, which gives very great flexibility of use. An electrical cabinet and all the tank management systems are also present in this compartment.

© An article from the editorial staff of Mer et Marine. Reproduction prohibited without consent of the author(s).



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