Saturday, March 10, 2012

Passenger Ship KM Dorolonda

Traveling by ship is one of my favorite ways to explore new places and towns in Indonesia. My trip to Bali from Manokwari started on Christmas day 2011. I went to Surabaya by passenger ship KM. Dorolonda. After arriving in the city, I would continue my trip by car to Bali island where at Ketapang Port of East Java, I had to cross the Bali strait by a ferry boat to Gilimanuk. My destination at that time was Ubud - the center of art and culture of the Balinese people. This vessel is operated by PELNI - a state owned passenger lines in Indonesia. The vessel was constructed in Germany at Jos Meyer shipyard. Indonesia as the largest archipelago needs a lot of ferries to transport people and goods from one island to another. That's why PELNI lines have ordered tens of passenger ships and ferries from Meyer Werft.
Even though all of the PELNI passenger ships are not considered as luxurious cruise ships, they have been equipped with advanced navigational system and GPS tracking system.
In Indonesia, millions of people travel by ships because it is cheap. Most of the modern passenger ferries and cruise ships are powered by diesel engines. In the past, steam turbines were the preferred choice because they were relatively calmer than marine diesel engines that produce more vibrations. With more improvements in the design of marine internal combustion engines, they become smaller but can deliver higher power.
My personal reason for traveling by ships is more on my educational background. I studied Naval Architecture in Pattimura University of Ambon city. I always want to study the interior of ships that I travel with. So, I took the opportunity of going to Surabaya with KM Dorolonda by taking a lot of pictures of this vessel. I also made a lot of pictures of traditional wooden boats, container ships and pontoons that I saw at every port that KM Dorolonda made as her ports of call.
Although more Indonesian people now prefer to travel by airplanes, there are more people in the country who still choose ships and boats as their preferred mode of transportation. More often the capacity of the ships is too small to accommodate thousands of people who use them. For instance, when I was traveling by this KM Dorolonda, I saw hundreds of people staying for a few nights at the outer decks of the vessel. I was really concerned about this situation because of safety concerns. As a naval architect, I know that as long as the waterline does not exceed the plimsoll mark, the ship is still safe enough to cross the ocean. However, PELNI as the operator of tens of ferries that carry thousands of passengers - often in over capacity condition, must give more attention on providing life saving equipment in the passenger ships. In addtion, the addition of surveillance cameras and security personnel in the vessels are a must to ensure that frequent criminality incidents can be stopped in the ships.  There are a lot of incidents in Indonesian passenger ships where passengers lost their belongings. Pickpocket is also a common criminal case that frequently occurs during the embarkation and de-embarkation of passengers in every port of Indonesia.
As a matter of fact, PELNI ships have got the potentials to be promoted as affordable transport vehicles for foreign tourists who want to travel around Indonesia in cheaper cost. This can only be realized if the ships are cleaned regularly and criminality during the sea voyage as well as during the loading and unloading of passengers at ports have been eliminated. by Charles Roring