DISCOVER Magazine #7

Building in and for Brazil

Published in category: Countries

Building in and for Brazil

A near 20-year cooperation between Damen and Wilson Sons, one of Brazil’s largest shipbuilding and offshore companies at the same time, is set to further intensify as the two jointly start to build vessels for the wider Brazilian Offshore market. In addition, and based on experience, Damen will target the inland shipping and defence industries.

Until this time Wilson Sons, working almost exclusively together with Damen, using the Damen Technical Cooperation (DTC) method (see article on page 106), has largely built ships for its fleet at its own shipyards, including more than 50 tugboats and over 15 Platform Supply Vessels. At 175 years old, Wilson Sons is now the largest builder and operator of tugboats in the country.

Originally in the nineties, Damen and Wilson Sons worked on a Brazilian Navy contract for several tugs, with Damen supplying the design and material package. The cooperation worked very well and Wilson Sons was so pleased with the Damen tugboat design they decided to use Damen designs for its own fleet expansion. The company now boasts a fleet of around 50 Damen ASD Tugs of various sizes and outfitting.

Number One

Adalberto Souza, Wilson Sons Director, says: “To remain ‘Number One’ we have to continually upgrade and the Brazilian designs did not lead to the most efficient, manoeuvrable vessels. Then Damen came along with its designs, which led to an immediate improvement and the cooperation with Damen really began!

This cooperation has enabled Wilson Sons to develop its shipbuilding knowledge, he adds. “If you visit our yard in Guaruja, you will see many similarities in our working methods. We have adopted Damen’s standardisation concept as well and operate in the same way as Damen does all over the world.

Leading the market

At the start of the millennium Wilson Sons was keen to move into the growing offshore industry and Damen then developed a special new diesel-electric design for a Platform Supply Vessel. “This became the favoured design of Petrobras and the energy giant led the trend to switch to diesel electric systems!” Mr Souza points out.

The booming Brazilian shipbuilding market, being spurred on by Brazilian energy giant Petrobras, also led Wilson Sons to expand significantly, whereby it has doubled capacity with the creation of a new drydock with a 27 m beam. Anchor Handlers and small pipe layers of up to a 25 m beam can now be built there so this is a significant expansion, comments Erik Hertel, Sales Manager Americas. “This also means there is plenty of capacity for new customers.”

More capacity

Recently Damen and Wilson Sons agreed a contract for 10 more ASD Tugs 2411 and two newly designed ASD Tugs 3212 in addition to the PSV’s 4500 currently under construction for Wilson Sons own fleet. Furthermore, an ROV Support Vessel for a Dutch geological data provider is also under construction – the first contract for a new client.

“Our cooperation with Wilson Sons really is a win-win situation. Damen supplies material packages and designs for Damen’s standard vessels, incorporating local or industry-specific requirements. For example, Wilson Sons prefers a sea water cooler to a box cooler. And because of the large volume of PSVs built there, these are entirely adapted to the Brazilian market,” says Mr Hertel.

Single-purpose vessels?

A typical PSV for the North Sea tends to be a multi-purpose vessel, he explains, able to handle various kinds of cargo, but because Brazilian PSVs these vessels are being built to serve Petrobras and are on the back of long-term contracts in Brazil, each vessel is tailored to meet the end-client´s needs. This means every Platform Supplier is fit for a single purpose; one can be dedicated to fuel supply, while another is specifically built for water transport. The move from multi-purpose to dedicated PSVs allows, paradoxically, for faster delivery at lower cost. Due to the standardised and modular set-up of the Damen designs it is possible to create fit for purpose vessels.

And for owners looking to do business in Brazil the cooperation is ideal because the country has strict local content rules and most tenders specify that vessels have to be built in Brazil. Customers can benefit from the combination of proven Damen designs and Wilson Sons shipbuilding knowledge, he adds.

The engineering and project teams work very closely together to ensure an efficient build, Mr Hertel says. “It really is a very close relationship between builder, designer and customer.”

ROV Support Vessel

Keel laying for the 80 m ROV Support Vessel took place in January and it is due to be delivered early 2014. “This is a very complex project and a prototype. The vessel’s winches and lifting equipment facilitate subsea installation work at 3,000 m water depth. We have started with Damen’s design knowledge and combined it with the client´s vast operational experience. In this particular case we are building a unique vessel, meanwhile developing a new standard range for ROV Support Vessels.”

Damen is very positive about the future of the offshore market and also sees vast potential in Brazil’s inland shipping market, which it is now exploring. “Damen’s designs are very competitive in the Brazilian market, which can be very expensive. We have the advantage of a considerable track record of building inland shipping vessels in the Netherlands, which boasts the most modern fleet worldwide, and in other European countries. Our specialised yard Bodewes Millingen always operates at the forefront of technical possibilities, resulting in, for example, a new LNG-powered inland shipping vessel for the European market.”

To further serve the Brazilian market, Damen will soon assign a dedicated representative who will be based permanently at Wilson Sons.

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