The ships that Airbus uses aren’t exactly what you’d imagine when mentioning the phrase ‘aircraft carrier’. However – that’s exactly what the company’s ships do in order to move components to where they need to be. Airbus and its production facilities around the world utilize several vessels to move components between the sites at Broughton, Hamburg, Mobile, Tianjin, and Toulouse. Some are external charters while others are exclusively part of the Airbus family.
Ville de Bordeaux
The Ville de Bordeaux is a 5,200 deadweight tonnage, roll-on and roll-off (ro-ro) vessel. The number doesn’t refer to its weight but rather the weight in cargo it can support. The ship measures 154.15 metres long, 24 metres wide and 21.85 metres deep.
According to Airbus, the Ville de Bordeaux features the largest ever watertight stern door on a ro-ro vessel (22 metres by 14 metres). The vessel incorporates special features “tailored to the loading and transport of aircraft components”. These include
- A stern mooring system
- Cargo hold environment control
- Lashing arrangements
In its process of building the A380 superjumbo, Airbus has the vessel go between sites in the UK, Germany, France and Spain to the French city port of Bordeaux. From here components will go to Toulouse via river barge and road transportation.
The Ville de Bordeau was built in Nanjing, China.
The Mobile Express
The Mobile Express crosses the Atlantic Ocean once per month, carrying major A320 Family components including fuselage sections, wings and pylons, as well as vertical and horizontal stabilizers.
This ship heads to the coastal city of Mobile, Alabama – site of Airbus’ American assembly facility. Airbus says that the name of the ship was chosen based on the contributions of Airbus’ logistics and transport community, the ship’s owner, and more than 300 Airbus employees at Saint-Nazaire and Mobile.
River barges and other ships
And then there are other, less prominent vessels such as river barges and chartered ships. The barges are specially designed to carry aircraft components on the penultimate part of their voyage along the Garonne River. These go from the port city of Bordeaux to the river harbour of Langon. From Langon, aircraft components are transferred to the final assembly line in Toulouse via road transportation.
We’ve also seen photos of other ships like the BBC Fuji and BBC Haren transporting Airbus aircraft components. These ships are part of a company called BBC Chartering. The company operates more than 150 “modern, multipurpose heavy lift vessels.”
With Airbus having its production facilities and final assembly lines dispersed all over the world, components need to safely make their way from one facility to another. These water vessels are part of that journey.
Did you know about these Airbus vessels before? Let us know in the comments.