DISCOVER Magazine #7

We love NL

Published in category: Countries

The abbreviation is the same: NL for Newfoundland and for the Netherlands. But the quayside winter view from the most eastern city in North America could not be more different to Damen’s Dutch headquarters in Gorinchem. So, as we continue to develop our local presence in St. John’s, let’s find out what bridges our Netherlands-based shipbuilding group with the capital and the largest city in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Okay, we’ll admit the Dutch didn’t get off to a great start with the temporary seizure of St. John’s by the Dutch admiral Michiel de Ruyter in 1665. But nevertheless the settlement prospered. Today St. John’s has a substantial harbour, a base for many Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers as well as a fleet of offshore support vessels. The city is the centre of the oil and gas industry in Eastern Canada. ExxonMobil Canada is headquartered in St. John’s and companies such as Chevron, Husky Energy, Suncor Energy and Statoil have major regional operations here.

Maintenance & support
“In St. John’s we are setting up a maintenance centre for the four Damen PSV 5000 vessels currently under construction for Atlantic Towing and the Damen-built Ice Class RoPax ferries Veteran and Legionnaire. Partnering with Damen-certifi ed local engineers provides an economic advantage for St. John’s, while benefitting from our group’s expertise and know-how. Canadian engineers are currently at Damen Shipyards Galati to ensure they have first-hand knowledge of the vessels and onboard systems.”

“We will have trained maintenance and support engineers and spare parts available within driving distance of the homeport of these vessels,” says Damen Manager North America Jan van Hogerwou. “This service hub is the start of Damen’s presence in Newfoundland, which Damen hopes to grow in order to become a substantial economic motor, taking into account vessel replacement projects that have to be launched.”

Damen is also learning from Canadian expertise, particularly experience in operating vessels in extremely challenging Arctic conditions. Damen is a leading partner in developing a new Arctic Research Centre in St John’s, looking at factors from engine manufacturing to safety and environmental regulations.

Liberation & bond
Together with Memorial University in St. John’s, we have facilitated a student (exchange) programme for naval engineers, allowing Canadians to study in the Netherlands, and Dutch students to study in St. John’s.

The scholarships are part of activities organised to mark the 70 years since Canadian forces liberated the Netherlands from Nazi occupation in the final months of the Second World War. The Dutch remember those Canadian heroes fondly, leading not only to enduring military ties between the two allies, but also to the postwar period of significant Dutch emigration to Canada.

More than a million Canadians have roots back to the Netherlands. That legacy is also reflected in the names of the recently delivered Damen ferries Veteran and Legionnaire. The Canadian army regularly participates in the International Four Days Marches in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, marking the bond created since the liberation.

“We’re building ever closer maritime ties between the Netherlands and Canada. So with the Damen flag flying at our service hubs in St John’s, we are proud to be close to our Canadian clients, providing local benefits and sharing shipbuilding know-how.”

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