My colleague Julie and I went on board the Rodin for a return trip to start showing you MyFerryLink “behind the scenes”! We met the loading officers of the Rodin who showed us how they work.
It is a cold and windy Tuesday morning when the Rodin arrives at the Port of Dover. The loading officers moor the ferry and the ramps at the berth are lowered.
The officers start unloading the ferry in the following order: first, the lorries on the outside deck, then the FIFO (“Rapide” service – first in, first out), followed by passenger cars, motorbikes, vans and campervans, plus any lorries that there may be on the upper deck. Thelorries on the lower deck are unloaded simultaneously.
Then it’s time for loading. The officers in the ferry and on the dockside use their radios to communicate, and they’re off. The two superferries can take up to 100 lorries or combined load of freight and tourism vehicles, such as 45 lorries and 300 cars. Today, most of lorries are loaded on the lower deck, with the remaining few on the upper deck, along with the cars and other vehicles.
Disabled and limited mobility customers are amongst the first to be loaded and are guided to a place next to the lifts so that they can easily access the upper decks.
There is also an outside deck which has enough space for four lorries containing certain hazardous substances, or also refrigerated lorries. These lorries are kept outside in order to separate them from the other cargo. They are attached by heavy chains and the lorry drivers use the support legs of their trailers to maintain their stability. The outside deck is also fitted with foam cannons in case of fire.
One of the water-tight doors being closed. Both of the superferries are fitted with watertight doors which must be closed when the ship is at sea.
The team shows us that the Rodin and Berlioz are both fitted with a mezzanine car deck which adds extra capacity for passenger cars at peak times. When the mezzanine deck is not in use, it slightly lowers the height of that side of the ferry, so the loading officers pay particular attention to the height of the lorries that they load on that side.
The crew usually work a one week shift one week shift off roster on the ferries.
We would like to say thank you to the master of the Rodin Captain Thibaut Blanquart for allowing us to do this interview on the ferry, and to all the crew members we met onboard including Hervé, Loic, Julien, Benjamin, Daniel (and everyone else we talked to!) for answering our questions.