Types of Ferries in the World and Their Function

Ferry is a vehicle to transport passengers and materials to cross a strait, river or canal. Ferry is also defined as a special crossing vessel (in a strait, river, canal) whose stern and hull can be opened to load or unload passengers, materials, and vehicles.

Ferries serve as a transportation between islands that are close together, for example, such as ferries for crossings between the islands of Java (Ketapang, East Java) and Bali (Gilimanuk, Bali). Ferries also have an important role in contributing to an economical transport system for many coastal cities compared to building bridges or tunnels.

There are various types of ships, depending on the distance traveled, the capacity of the vessel, the required speed, and the conditions of the water to be traversed. An explanation of the different types of ferries will be explained as follows:

1. Double-Ended Ferry

double-ended ferry
Double-Ended Ferry in Staten Island

Double-ended ferries have two rudders located at the front and rear. The two rudders are interchangeable so the ferry can sail back and forth without having to turn.

Generally, these double-ended ferries are used to transport people only. Popular double-ended ferries are the Staten Island Ferry, Washington Ferry and Start Ferry. In 2008, BC Ferries launched three of the largest double-ended ferries in the world.

2. Hydrofoil Ferry

Hydrofoil Ferry

Hydrofoil ferries are ferries that can glide quickly and have wings (looks like legs) that can traverse the water. The wings on the hydrofoil are attached to struts that extend downward from the hull.

Hydrofoil ferries have two pairs of foils, one pair placed at the ship’s center of gravity and the other pair placed near the back of the ship.

Along with the times, this type of hydrofoil ferry is being replaced by a catamaran ferry because it is faster and has more payload, it can carry a car. Even so, hydrofoil ferries are still used by the Canary Islands because they are considered more practical, fast, and relatively economical.

3. Air Cushion Ferry / Hovercraft

air cushion ferry
Air Cushion Ferry

An air cushion ferry / hovercraft is a type of ferry that runs on an air cushion. With the additional feature of this air cushion, it allows the hovercraft to run on mud, water, or land by carrying a fairly heavy load.

Just like hydrofoil ferries, over time, air cushion ferries are being replaced by catamaran ferries because they are faster and less affected by sea and weather conditions. Air cushion ferries still operating between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight by Hovertravel.

4. Catamaran Ferry

catamaran ferry
Catamaran Ferry

Catamaran ferries are included in high speed ferries. The catamaran is derived from the Indian Tamil “Kattumaram” which is multi-hull, in accordance with this ship configuration which is designed to have two hulls.

Compared to single-body ships, they have better vertical stability, smaller drag values, and larger deck areas.

5. Cable Ferry

cable ferry
Cable Ferry

Cable ferries are ferries that are propelled and controlled by cables connected on two sides.

There are two types of cable ferries, namely stream ferries and chain ferries.

Current ferries are cable ferries that use current power as an energy source. Chain ferries are cable ferries used on fast-flowing rivers over short distances.

6. Turntable Ferry

turntable ferry
Turntable Ferry

The turntable ferry is a type of ferry that is not very large. The turntable ferry has a swivel platform. This platform is used to load vehicles and can be used to load vehicles from the side.

7. Train Ferry

train ferry
Train Ferry

A train ferry or also known as a slip ferry is a ferry designed to carry trains. The lower deck of this ferry contains railroad tracks that have doors at the front and/or sides to make it easier for trains to disembark or board.

8. Roll-Off / Ro-Ro Ferry

Roll-off ferry
Ro-ro Ferry

Ro-ro ferries are large, conventional ferries that can transport vehicles or wheeled cargo with ease. Ro-ro ferries have certain variations as follows:

  • Cruiseferry / RoPax

Cruiseferry is a ship that combines the features of a passenger ship and a ro-ro ship. Cruiseferry is also known as RoPax which stands for Roll on/Roll off and Passenger. These ships generally have a capacity of more than 500 passengers.

  • ConRo / RoCon

A ConRo ship is a ship that combines the features of a container ship and a ro-ro ship. This type of ship has a lower deck which is used for vehicle storage while the upper deck is for materials storage.

  • RoLo

RoLo stands for roll-on/lift-off. As the name implies, the RoLo ship is a hybrid ship that serves vehicle decks and other cargo decks that can be accessed by crane.

  • LMSR

LMSR stands for Large, Medium, Speed Roll-on/Roll-off. The LMSR ship is a type of ro-ro ship used by the United States Military Sealift Command (MSC) which functions to transport military cargo.

Those are the information about the types of ferries that exist in the world. Hopefully it can increase your knowledge about the world of transportation and shipping.