Ville de Bordeaux

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Ville de Bordeaux.jpg
Career (France) Civil and naval ensign of France
Name: Ville de Bordeaux
Namesake: Bordeaux, port city of France
Owner: Louis Dreyfus Armateurs/Leif Höegh & Co[1]
20year+10 lease to Airbus[1]
Operator: Fret/CETAM
Port of registry: Bordeaux, France
Builder: Jingling shipyard, Nanjing, China
Cost: $30million[2]
Commissioned: 2004
Identification: IMO: 9270842
Callsign: FZCE
General characteristics
Type: Roll-on/roll-off ferry
Tonnage: 21528 gross tons
Length: 154 m (505 ft)
Beam: 28 m (92 ft)
Draft: 5.5 m (18 ft)
Installed power: diesel

The Ville de Bordeaux is a ship carrier designed to transport the elements of the Airbus A380.

A380 production

The origin of Airbus as a European holding company for a series of country-based existing aerospace manufacturers resulted in a geographically diversified structure with plants in France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Transportation of components and sub-structures of existing Airbus models was facilitated by air, using the specially developed A300-600ST Beluga aircraft.[3]

As the major components and sub-assembly structures of the A380 were too big for the A300-600ST, Airbus were forced to choose between keeping open their diverse existing European factory infrastructure, or finding a way of transporting the components to final assembly plant in Toulouse. Airbus choose to keep the plants diversified, using sea and road transport, with the production facilities and supply chain scaled for a production rate of four A380s per month.[4]


Conceived by Deltamarin, Ville de Bordeaux was designed as a Roll-on/roll-off ferry. She was built in Nanjing, China using the Jinling shipyard. New wider roads, canal systems and barges were also developed to deliver the A380 parts.

Built for a cost of $30million,[2] the ship was launched in January 2004. Airbus has an option from 2007 to lease an additional ship of the same capacity.[1]

Jointly owned by Louis Dreyfus Armateurs of France, and Norwegian ship-owner Leif Höegh & Co; she is operated jointly by their subsidiary companies Fret and CETAM, on a 20+10year lease to Airbus.[1] The ship started operations on June 10, 2004.[5]


Starting in Hamburg-Finkenwerder on the River Elbe, the ship loads the front and rear sections of the fuselage, from where they are shipped to the United Kingdom.[4] The wings, which are manufactured at Filton in Bristol and Broughton, Flintshire in North Wales, are transported by barge to Mostyn docks, where the ship adds them to its cargo. In Saint-Nazaire in western France, the ship trades the fuselage sections from Hamburg for larger, assembled sections, some of which include the nose. The ship unloads in Bordeaux. Afterwards, the ship picks up the belly and tail sections by Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA in Cádiz in southern Spain, and delivers them to Bordeaux. From there, the A380 parts are transported by barge to Langon, and by oversize road convoys to the assembly hall in Toulouse.[6]

After assembly, the aircraft are flown to Hamburg Finkenwerder Airport (XFW) to be furnished and painted. It takes 3,600 l (950 US gal) of paint to cover the 3,100 m2 (33,000 sq ft) exterior of an A380.


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