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1 March 2024
Interview with Captain Simon Moore aboard P&O Liberté
We interviewed Captain Simon Moore from P&O Ferries as he prepared to take over the final leg of the voyage to bring the new hybrid ferry P&O Liberté back from China to arrive in Dover today, 1st March 2024. The P&O Liberté will soon join her sister ship P&O Pioneer as the two largest double-ended hybrid ferries in the world. These two ships can use their hybrid capacity to reduce carbon emissions by up to 40%, with the capacity for more reductions when greater shore power is available. Captain Moore has been part of the project to develop the ‘Fusion Class’ of hybrid ferries since the beginning, and was at the centre of the task to bring Pioneer into service in 2023.
About the journey from China:
What were your thoughts as you prepared to bring the second Fusion Class vessel P&O Liberté back to the UK to begin service on the Dover-Calais route?
The period of time leading up to P&O taking delivery of the vessel in China was very intense with many aspects coming together. Upon delivery, we undertook a programme of thorough crew training and systems checks to ensure the vessel was ready for the long delivery voyage via the Cape of Good Hope. It’s been great to be able to reflect on what the Ship of the Future team (the project team for the Fusion Class ferries) have achieved over the past seven years or so. From blue sky thinking to various brainstorming sessions to taking delivery of the vessels and seeing them go into service. It is a once in a lifetime experience for many of the crew and I am thrilled the other Masters assigned to this vessel had the opportunity to take command for some of the legs of the delivery voyage.
What is your favourite feature of Liberté and where do you most like to spend time on the ship during this long voyage?
There are so many great features on the Fusion Class ships. However, I really enjoy the outside spaces and go for daily walks around the decks. Being sat on the bridge with a nice cuppa watching the world go by always makes me happy. Luckily the Fusion Class has two bridges and sometimes it's just nice to be on the off-duty bridge looking at the ship's wake which at first feels very unusual! My absolute go-to place is the hot tub which we have located on one of the foc’sles on Deck 5. This is always a very special experience regardless of the time of day but at night, under a clear sky full of stars whilst crossing the oceans is simply spectacular!
What is the crew accommodation like onboard Liberté and where does everybody like to go to relax?
The crew accommodation is of a very high standard and the crews have been very complimentary about this. In addition to their cabins crew have several other spaces they can go to relax such as the mess rooms, gym and games room. The games room is very popular and, in particular, the table tennis.
How do you approach building a relationship with a new crew when you start working together for the first time?
For me, this is all built around mutual respect. Whilst there is a hierarchy on board, I make it clear no one rank is more important than the other. We are all here for the same reason, but each of us has very different roles to play. I focus on building a team ethos through work, training and socialising. For me, the crew must know I am approachable and will listen to their issues and help resolve them if required. Clear communications are key especially when dealing with a multinational crew. For the delivery of P&O Liberté, we will have a backbone of 21 Chinese crew onboard. Many of these were with me for the delivery of P&O Pioneer and it is a fantastic honour knowing they turned down several other offers of employment and waited a little longer than originally planned to be the first crew on P&O Liberté. As the vessel moves across the world, additional crew will join in Colombo, Durban and Las Palmas.
Do hybrid ferries cope differently with the weather in the open sea?
Being a hybrid ferry makes no difference really on the sea-keeping qualities of the vessel. What does make a difference however is the design of the hull and the fusion class vessels have been specifically designed for the sea conditions experienced on the Dover to Calais route.
About the Liberté and the Fusion Class:
Do the vessels fulfil what you anticipated during the Ship of the Future project?
Yes, very much so and they have also exceeded expectations! Although it is still relatively early days since the P&O Pioneer entered service, the vessel is achieving the key fundamental points upon which the business case for these ferries was based. For example, we are seeing much-improved fuel consumption, using up to 40% less fuel per crossing. Turnaround times in the Calais new port are also much improved. It is astonishing to watch the vessel discharge a full load of around 140 freight and 200 cars in just 10 minutes which is some 15 minutes quicker compared to a Spirit Class [ferry]!
What has been your experience of operating Pioneer since she went into service?
It has been an amazing experience, and the vessel is extremely powerful and highly manoeuvrable. It has also been a very intensive experience learning more about what the ship can do with every manoeuvre. The Azipod propulsion systems are very different to our other vessels, and this takes time to master. I have been fortunate to help train some of the other Masters assigned to both Pioneer and Liberté and through collaboration, we continue to learn together what this awesome machine can do.
Have you been able to refine and improve the Liberté based on learnings from Pioneer? What has been the biggest learning?
Yes, we have made several refinements in the passenger spaces as a direct result of the P&O Pioneer being in service. The biggest learning has been how to best optimise the use of the vessel, especially the passenger spaces. The crews have had a steep learning curve but now understand and use the ship to its full potential. The Pet Lounge was a huge success over the peak summer season and I believe it will be even more popular in the future once the word spreads.
If you started the Ship of the Future project all over again today, is there any newly developing technology we would take advantage of?
Huge advancements are being made in all aspects of the production of clean energy fuel cells. In time I am sure these will be scaled up to a level where they could be used on large super ferries, but they are not available yet.
Has P&O Ferries been a true ‘pioneer’ and trailblazer for the sector – do you think it’s important to be first out with a completely new class of ferries and will we see similar hybrid vessels being delivered to other operators in time?
Yes, I firmly believe through taking calculated risks P&O have designed the next generation of super ferry for the Dover-Calais route. By having the first hybrid vessels on the route we now have a competitive advantage over the other operators for the next 5 years or so. There will be other hybrid vessels for sure, but I am not sure they will be as large as the Fusion Class vessels. There is new legislation such as the European ETS which now means when in European waters we are being taxed on our carbon emissions with the cost ultimately being passed down to our customers. To combat this, the next generation of vessels needs to be able to run in zero-emission mode for at least part of the European part of the voyage and preferably the whole voyage. To achieve this the ports will need to invest in shore power infrastructure, and this is unlikely to be achieved in Dover or Calais within the next five years. Importantly, the Fusion Class have been designed in a modular format so that when the infrastructure is in place the vessels can be modified by removing the generators which burn carbon-based fuels and replace with more batteries. Coupled with this battery technology is advancing at an incredible rate which will only be a future benefit.
About P&O and sustainability
There is a lot of news coverage about how businesses are committed to sustainability and the pathway to decarbonising shipping. What does this pathway mean to you in your role?
I feel honoured to have helped design and now command the most environmentally sustainable ships on the English Channel. We now operate our ships differently with a real focus on reducing our carbon footprint. With the Fusion Class, we now operate in new modes such as “hybrid” and “zero emissions” which is really starting to align with the goals of the pathway to decarbonising shipping.
February 28, 2024
P&O FERRIES LEADS THE WAY ON THE DECARBONISATION OF ITS FLEET WITH EMISSION REDUCTION AND PIONEERING FUEL EFFICIENCY MEASURES
• P&O Ferries cut almost 50,000 tons of carbon emissions from its operation in 2023 with the introduction of a new hybrid ferry and its new dedicated initiative to reduce fuel consumption – the Fleet Support Centre for Fuel and Energy Efficiency.
• This follows a reduction of over 85,000 tons in 2022, achieved through partnerships with other operators to enable the company to sail less frequently - and other measures to improve the technical efficiency of its vessels.
P&O Ferries has today shared promising results from its new fuel and energy efficiency initiative following significant measures to reduce carbon emissions in 2023. The introduction of P&O Ferries’ new dedicated Fleet Support Centre for Fuel and Energy Efficiency, alongside the introduction of the new hybrid ferry P&O Pioneer, has contributed to a reduction of almost 50,000 tons of carbon emissions from the fleet during 2023.
P&O’s Fleet Support Centre for Fuel and Energy Efficiency
P&O’s Fleet Support Centre, based at the company’s Dover headquarters, uses the latest SMARTShip technology and fuel meters onboard each ferry. This gives the company a wealth of new data that can be used to track and reduce fuel and energy consumption. The ability to see granular data on fuel consumption for each route and vessel allows P&O Ferries to investigate any changes in consumption and see the result of efficiency efforts straight away. The data also gives deep insight into the impact of different variables such as: the weather, operating system, method of operating the vessel and its schedule. Close collaboration with the ship teams and other stakeholders is critical to the success of fuel reduction in using the data to optimise vessel performance.
Since the rollout across the P&O Ferries’ fleet in recent months, the Fleet Support Centre’s new approach has reduced fuel consumption and related emissions on key routes during 2023, with further fuel reductions of 5% expected for 2024.
Examples of the initiative’s results so far include:
• On the Hull-Rotterdam route, a change in speed and consumption was noted as the vessels adjusted to keep on schedule. A slight adjustment to the schedule allowed the vessels to keep to a consistent speed and resulted in a fuel reduction of 3.6% ton per leg.
• On the Larne-Cairnryan route, the two vessels were showing different fuel consumption despite operating the same route. Deeper analysis of their operating systems and the route showed a 7% decrease in fuel consumption in 2023.
• On the Dover-Calais route, the new system allowed P&O Ferries to find the most effective way to operate its new hybrid ferry P&O Pioneer, which uses a technologically advanced system with battery packs that optimises efficiency and significantly reduces emissions. This new approach ensures the vessel consumes the least fuel necessary for effective operations.
P&O Pioneer’s impact on emissions
P&O Pioneer was introduced on the Dover-Calais route in June 2023. The vessel’s hybrid technology and innovative double-ended design (meaning that she does not need to turn around to leave the port) means that she uses up to 40% less fuel per crossing compared to our other vessels on the Dover-Calais route. This reduces carbon emissions by 6.49 tons per crossing – this is broadly equivalent to driving an average diesel car for 23,500 miles. P&O Ferries’ second hybrid ferry, P&O Liberté will come into service in March 2024, completing the replacement of the oldest generation of vessels in the company’s cross-Channel fleet.
Owen Barry, Director of Maritime Operations at P&O Ferries, said:
“P&O Ferries is committed to decarbonising its operation and our two new hybrid ferries, P&O Pioneer and P&O Liberté have shown that we are a step ahead in reducing our fuel consumption and related emissions. But for us to continue to drive down our emissions we have taken steps to digitalise our entire fleet so we have useful and reliable data on how our vessels are performing.
“We believe that our approach is leading the sector by combining the latest technology with a dedicated, experienced in-house team who work in close collaboration with our crew to get the best performance from every vessel in our fleet. We have already seen a solid reduction of fuel compared to 2022 and we expect another 5% decrease during 2024.”
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