China's first domestically-built Cruise-Ferry for the lifeline services to Sansha City

Thursday, April 30, 2015

China's first domestically-built Cruise-Ferry for the lifeline services to Sansha City

SAN SHA 1 HAO was recently introduced on the lifeline services from Wenchang City, Hainan to Sansha City, China's newest and southernmost city located 162 nautical miles southeast of Hainan island.

Built in China with locally sourced equipment, SAN SHA 1 HAO boasts a European flair though since   she was designed by Danish Knud E. Hansen A/S.

Counting about 260 islands, reefs, beaches and atolls, Sansha City covers the disputed Xisha, Nansha and Zhongsha island chains in the South China Sea. The small and sparsely populated islands don't produce anything and fully rely on supplies from the mainland.

Meat, vegetables and fruit, but also potable water and fuel all have to be imported. The islands are  of strategic importance, but tourism has slowly but surely been gathering pace during the last couple of years. With QIONG SHA 3 HAO, the mainstay that served the scattered islands, getting too small, a competition between Chinese yards to build a replacement ferry with a higher intake and improved onboard standards was launched by the Sansha local government.

Despite their lack of experience, Bohai Shipbuilding Heavy Industry (the former Bohai Shipyard)  wanted to stand out and therefore teamed up with CS Marine of Shanghai who, in their turn, joined forces with Knud E. Hansen A/S. Actually, CS Marine contacted Knud E. Hansen A/S at the eleventh hour in December 2012 and there were only ten days left for the Danish naval architects to develop the concept and tender design. Despite the tight timeframe, Bohai Shipbuilding Heavy Industry landed the contract in early 2013 mainly on the basis of Knud E. Hansen A/S's innovative concept design. Whereas CS Marine was responsible for the detailed design, the scope of work carried out by Knud E. Hansen A/S also included the basic design, hull lines, CFD analysis, stability calculations and steel structural design. Tank tests were successfully performed in Shanghai and SAN SHA 1 HAO can operate in winds of up to eight Beaufort which is quite an improvement over the smaller QIONG SHA 3 HAO whose sailings had to be cancelled regularly, leading to a shortage of water and food on the islands. Specifically built for Chinese domestic service, SAN SHA 1 HAO did not have to be SOLAS compliant. Even so, the ship is largely SO LAS proof and, of course, fully complies with Chinese Classification Society (CCS) and Chinese flag state rules. The 12,580 GT cruise-ferry is remarkable in many ways. In addition to being the first ferry built by Bohai Shipbuilding Heavy Industry, all the equipment has been domestically produced and sourced which somehow illustrates that the Chinese shipbuilding cluster is picking up quickly. Possibly, this could even signal the start of a local supply chain for the construction of passenger vessels.


The size of the island ports obviously drove the envelope of the ship's dimensions; SAN SHA 1 HAO has a length o.a. of 122.3m and a 21m moulded beam. The ship has a fairly slender hull form with a block coefficient of about 0.6 at 5.2m draught.

Two HFO fuelled MAN 9L32/40 engines were built under licence in China and each has an output of 4,500 kW at 750 rpm, driving twin controllable pitch propellers with four medium skewed blades. Of the IMO Tier II type, the main engines are flexibly coupled to two single input, single output reduction gearboxes with reduction ratio from the main engine rpm to approximately 130 rpm on the propeller shaft. With a service speed of 18 knots at 85 percent MCR, the crossing time from Wen chang City to Yongxing (or Woody) Island the largest and principal island served by the ship -has been reduced from 15 to 10 hours. Remarkably, the ship has a 6,000-mile range with a daily consumption of approximately 30 tonnes for each main engine. The large fuel and fresh water tank capacities, however, are also used for cargo purposes to supply the islands with water and fuel.

The three auxiliary MAN SL21/31 gensets were equally built under license and have a generator rating of 950 kW each. The South China Sea can be rough, but for the comfort of the passengers, the ferry has been equipped with a pair of active type folding fin stabilizers. The ship's single bow  thruster was supplied by NGC Marine.

The ship has also been designed with longer cruises in mind and features large dry and refrigerated store rooms aft of the main engine compartment. The single vehicle deck spans two thirds of decks 3 and 4. It is accessed via a stern quarter ramp on the starboard side. With a total capacity of 350 lanemetres- equalling 20 trailers (or 40 TEUs) - the vehicle deck is obstruction free, save for a short engine casing that is offset to the portside of the centreline. With no production at all on the islands, Cargo Transport Units are full on the southbound journey, but return empty. For several reasons, not in the least island development, the vehicle deck has been strengthened to carry heavy equipment and can take a load of about 1,200 tonnes in total.

EUROPEAN ACCOMMODATION STANDARDS SAN SHA 1 HAO follows a vertical arrangement with cabins forward and public spaces aft. Officers have their cabins aft of the fully enclosed wheelhouse on Deck 8, whereas the remainder of the crew is accommodated in the forward end of Deck 3 -the ship's main deck.

There are 145 passenger cabins spread over four decks. Uniquely for this part of the world, there are no dormitories but rather standard one to four person inside and outside cabins, all with en-suite facilities. Eight VIP cabins, together with a broadcast centre and a 100 person reception cum meeting room, are located forward on Deck 7. The other public spaces are spread over decks 5 and 6. Aft on Deck 5 is the 200-seat cafeteria, the ship's main restaurant. It is accessed either via a stairway that leads to the upper decks or a starboard arcade that bypasses the large galley.

Cleverly, Deck 6 has been split up in different smaller rooms that are interconnected via inboard arcades. Starboard of the arcade is a bar, cigar lounge and conference rooms, whereas on the portside is a cinema, gymnasium, a 50-seat VIP restaurant and an internet cafe. There is a second, inside VIP restaurant forward of the casing and next to a small shop. At the exit to the wood covered aft deck, is a library with more outside deck space being available on Deck 7. On Deck 8, a helipad has been installed for rescue operations and island patrolling purposes.

Lifesaving equipment consists of two 95-person fully-enclosed lifeboats that are nested in double-height open recesses on either side of decks 5 and 6 together with two MES chutes. With her rather lavish interior design- at least when compared to her predecessor - SAN SHA 1 HAO sets new standards in Chinese ferry shipping. Travelling to Sansha City and the Xisha Islands used to be a complex affair but the new cruise-ferry will bolster the cautious first steps taken to attract tourism. The islands are beautiful and reminiscent  of the Maldives with a tropical marine climate. Not surprisingly, the new ferry mainly attracts fairly wealthy Chinese passengers in addition to fulfilling a lifeline function.

 Read more about San Sha I Hao here


Length o.a. 120.00 m

Length p.p. 107.00 m

Breath moulded 21.00 m

Depth to deck 3 ( car deck ) 14.00 m

Draught (design) 5.30 m

Deadweight 2400 t

No. of passengers 444 pers

No. of trailers 20 pcs

No. of cars 140 pcs

No. of crew 91 pers


KEH 12123.01/03

Article written by PHILIPPE HOLTHOF from ShipPax CFI

Sansha 120m Ro -Pax Vessel _compo