Damen Shipyards Group’s ferries division has celebrated its 20th anniversary.
At the start of the new millennium, Damen incorporated its activities in the waterborne public transport sector into a dedicated department.
The story of the product group started just before the year 2000, when Damen’s management noted high levels of activity in the fast ferry sector.
Damen entered the market with the acquisition of a license to construct the Australian River Runner design with the first project in this sector being the construction, in the Netherlands of four River Runners for the Dordrecht Waterbus Service.
Shortly after this, Damen acquired its own yard in Singapore, as well as the design for the Flying Cat 40 – a successful fast ferry of which over 60 vessels would be constructed. Down the years, Damen developed this design into the Damen Fast Ferries 4010 and 4212.
Today, Damen builds a wide range of composite vessels at its dedicated Antalya yard in Turkey.
As a result of the predictable – and relatively short – waterborne public transport sailing routes, the sector lends itself to being the at the forefront of electric vessel propulsion, the company claimed.
Damen is building its electric and hybrid electric ferries as part of its E3 programme – environmentally friendly, operational efficient and economically viable. The shipbuilder already has a number of what it calls E-Cross ferry projects under its belt. These include six hybrid diesel-electric Island Class ferries for Canadian BC Ferries, which have been designed for conversion to full-electric in the future when the regional infrastructure is in place. Also for Canada, Damen is building a fully electric Road Ferry 6819E3 and a Road Ferry 9819E3 for Ontario.
Another landmark project is Damen’s construction of seven fully electric 2306E3 Ferries for Arriva’s waterbus operation in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Current Product Director Ferries, Henk Grunstra, said, “We are very proud of what we have achieved over the last two decades. The world of maritime public transport has changed considerably in this time and we have changed with it, developing our product portfolio and production processes accordingly.
“We are looking forward to doing the same in the coming decades, responding to the market’s calls for increasing connectivity and sustainability and playing a leading role in the creation of waterborne public transport fit for the future,” he said.
On 27th April, Damen Yichang Shipyard in China hosted a digital steel cutting ceremony. As a result of safety measures surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the first steel cutting for a Damen RoPax Ferry 6716 for the Government of Timor-Leste was marked by a digital gathering.
Damen Sales Manager, Gysbert Boersma, explained, “During the coronavirus crisis, our first priority is for peoples’ safety and well-being. We do, however, still like to mark these important milestones, so we do so in a safety-conscious manner, with the aid of digital communications. The steel cutting was a great success; we certainly still managed to make it a special event.”
When completed, the 67 x 16 m vessel will operate between Timor-Leste’s capital Dili, the Oecusse enclave and the island of Ataúro. She will carry up to 308 pax, plus vehicles and freight.
The project is co-funded by the Timor-Leste and German Governments and the ferry is scheduled to begin operations in 2021.
During the coronavirus crisis, Damen Yichang Shipyard has managed to continue production by taking robust safety measures that ensure the well-being of personnel, their families and the wider community, Damen said.
This has included many employees working from home. For those unable to work from home, there has been temperature testing before entry, a rigorous cleaning and disinfection programme and the observation of safe working distance at all times.