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CNB Pro, a department of Bordeaux-based yacht- and boatbuilder CNB, builds passenger boats for commercial operators. CNB Pro has been particularly busy of late. In early May, the department delivered five passenger boats to UBA, an operator based at Arcachon bay on France’s Atlantic coast south of Bordeaux. These boats are 14.15 metres in length for a beam of 4.56m and carry up to 49 passengers. Powered by a pair of 280-hp Cummins QSB 6.7 engines, they offer a top speed of 18 knots and, thanks to advanced automation, can be operated by the captain unaided. Designed by naval architecture bureau Clyd, these semi-planing composite monohull boats recall the lines of earlier generations of passenger boats that plied Arcachon bay.


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The first-of-type Akubra for Arcachon-based operator UBA (© Nicolas Claris for CNB Pro)

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The Akubra, on Arcachon bay, operated by UBA (© Nicolas Claris for CNB Pro)


Third boat for Nave Va

Meanwhile, CNB Pro is completing the last of three boats for Corsica-based operator Nave Va, purchaser of six vessels over the last 15 years. The first two parallel hybrid propulsion CNB Pro20s, the Andréa and the Chjara Stella, were delivered in March and June 2016. The third will be launched later this month. With a length of 19.95 metres and a beam of 5.8, the aluminium-hulled CNB Pro20 was designed by naval architecture firm Bureau Mauric to carry up to 138 passengers with a crew of three.

Powered by two 800-hp Man D28128 LE 421/422 diesels and two 50-kW Leroy-Somer electric motors, the CNB Pro20 has a top speed of 20 knots using diesel propulsion. On switching to electric propulsion, the type offers 4 hours’ endurance at 5.5 knots and a top speed of 8 knots. The new Nave Va boats will operate a range of excursions from Porto and Cargèse to the spectacular Scandola Nature Reserve and the Piana calanques, a type of deep rocky cove. Silent, pollution-free electric propulsion is ideal for tourist excursions to such areas. Each trip to Scandola takes around two hours, including an hour or so on site using electric propulsion and half an hour each way at high speed using diesel power. During the high season, Nave Va operates four excursions per day to Scandola. Battery recharging takes 4 hours using either a quay-side connector or the boat’s onboard generator set. See our earlier article entitled Parallel hybrid propulsion.


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A Nave Va tourist excursion in operation (© Nicolas Claris for CNB Pro)

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Nave Va’s Chjara Stella in operation (© Nicolas Claris for CNB Pro)


A ferry for Bordeaux

CNB Pro also reports that its designs are attracting strong interest from other operators. A case in point is Keolis Bordeaux Métropole, operator of Bordeaux’s public transport networks. In January, Keolis took delivery of the Avocette, a new ferry built by CNB Pro to provide an urban cross-Garonne ferry service. The Avocette is 14.15 metres in length for a beam of 4.56m and can carry up to 65 passengers, with 49 seated.


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The Avocette ferry (© Nicolas Claris for CNB Pro)


Leaders in their fields

CNB (Construction Navale Bordeaux) was established in 1987 by Dieter Gust and Olivier Lafourcade. The company joined the Bénéteau group in 1992. CNB employs some 850 people and plans to employ around 1000 by 2020. The company’s many subcontractors also represent a large number of jobs. The CNB boatyard is on the right bank of the river Garonne near the centre of Bordeaux. It occupies 300 metres of riverfront and a total area of 105,000 sq.m, including 44,000 sq.m of covered workshops. The core business focuses on luxury yachts and boats. The company currently launches a new boat every three days and plans to produce over 100 a year from 2018. The main brands — CNB Yacht Builders and Lagoon — include aluminium and composite mono- and multi-hull types ranging from 11 to 40 metres in length.


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Pierre Lompech on the CNB Pro stand at Navexpo (© Mer et Marine - Vincent Groizeleau)


Diversification since 1994

Since 1994, when CNB Pro delivered its first passenger boat for the city of Bordeaux, the department has built a range of vessels using a range of materials. One example is the VCSM coastal patrol boats supplied to the French coastguard, or Gendarmerie maritime. Variants of this type have also been sold to international clients. In 2014, CNB Pro delivered the Aventure, an 18-m aluminium-hulled catamaran-type workboat, to French defence procurement agency DGA for surveillance and patrol duties off the Landes missile range, south of Bordeaux. “Over the last two years, we have produced seven commercial passenger boats, an area where we have proven expertise and one of several that we’ve been actively prospecting. Broadly speaking, we target higher added value segments where we can leverage our strength in semi-custom boatbuilding, one of the keys to our success in pleasure boats and yachts. This concept enables us to offer high levels of customisation and short lead times using proven baseline designs. CNB Pro has invested considerable effort in developing an ‘out-of-sync’ production concept combining good cost control, flexibility and high quality,” says Pierre Lompech, the CEO of CNB Pro. This year, the department will launch its one hundredth boat.


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CNB Pro’s design area (© Nicolas Claris for CNB Pro)

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Construction hall for aluminium-hull boats (© Nicolas Claris for CNB Pro)


CNB Pro has a 6000-sq.m covered workshop for the construction of composite-hull boats, complete with a 700-sq.m surface plate. “In addition to our continuing focus on green-water passenger boats, we are investigating river transport applications for our 15- to 16-m aluminium-hull designs,” adds Pierre. While proceeding cautiously, CNB Pro remains open to further diversification. The department is constantly on the lookout for new applications where existing models have something special to offer. These include the offshore sector and certain types of support and workboats for navies and coastguards.


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Launching a CNB Pro passenger boat (© Nicolas Claris for CNB Pro)

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The aluminium-hulled Aventure catamaran-type workboat delivered to the DGA (© Nicolas Claris for CNB Pro)

A VCSM-type coastal patrol boat (© Gendarmerie Maritime)


Translated and adapted by Steve Dyson

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