DISCOVER Magazine #7

Putting Mangalia on the map

Published in category: Editor’s choice

Mangalia MD discusses Damen’s long term plans in Romania

As has been widely reported in the media, the transaction for the yard formerly known as Daewoo Mangalia Heavy Industries (DMHI), between Damen Shipyards Group and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) was concluded on 20th of July. The Romanian Government retains a 51% stake. Damen, with a 49% stake, is now responsible for the operational management of the yard now known as Damen Shipyards Mangalia.

Introducing Chris Groninger

The shipyard, the largest in Damen’s portfolio, is being managed by Chris Groninger. Chris’s past form includes setting up Damen’s shipyard in Vietnam and running it successfully for four years. Prior to working at Damen, Chris was a public accountant with KPMG for seven years. His first role with Damen was as business controller. From here it was just a short step to becoming financial director of Damen Shipyards Gorinchem – a role that already saw Chris interacting with various Damen yards around the world.


Six years ago he went to Vietnam to oversee the establishment of Damen Song Cam Shipyard. “It was a big challenge to begin with,” he says. “Not only the move from financial to general management, but also to build up a yard almost from scratch. There was very little there – we had just started dredging; there was not yet a single building.”

Establishing a production line of tugs

Chris didn’t hang about; within a year and a half the yard was operational and standardised Damen vessels began to roll off the line. “Within the first year of operation we delivered four vessels. By the time I left we were producing 32 a year.” Chris left Vietnam last October in preparation for his new posting in Mangalia.

“It wasn’t easy to say goodbye to Damen Song Cam, having put so much into getting it off the ground. However, when I was asked to take up the positon at Mangalia, I started to look at it. I went to Romania with my wife. We looked at the schools, at where we could live and what we could do there and I became more and more enthusiastic. Romania has a rich cultural heritage. Lots of different people have been here over the years and all have left their mark on the country. I’m looking forward to exploring and to learning the language.”

A shipyard in a league of its own

Damen is looking, mainly, to build three types of vessel at Mangalia – offshore, RoPax and cruise vessels. The yard, Chris says, is up to the challenge.

“Mangalia is perfectly equipped with a total of 3 graven dry docks, with a width of 48 meters resp. 60 meters, 1.6 km berthing space and lots of crane capacity and workshops distributed over approximately 1 million m2,” he explains.

If you look at a picture of the yard from above you can see it clearly – it’s perfect. For what we are going to do there’s no better shipyard than Mangalia.


Preparing for the challenge

This is not to say that there is not work to be done to ready the yard for the future that Damen has in mind for it.

“The yard is currently set up for building vessels with thick steel plates, while we want to move to thin plates. We also want to move to an environment that is more balanced between steel works and outfitting works. Our intention is to deliver complete vessels from this yard.”

“Also, currently the yard is used to constructing ships for which all engineering work is complete. In contrast to many Damen locations – including Damen Song Cam – where standard vessels are the norm, we will build one-offs at Mangalia. These will be highly complex vessels, with concurrent engineering and production activities.”

It’s not only newbuilding Damen has planned for the Mangalia yard, however.

Continuation, diversification & expansion

“There are two other activities we will be undertaking – one of which is repair and maintenance. This activity will be coordinated by Damen Shiprepair & Conversion. The yard has a history of serving Greek clients – mostly with cargo vessels – and we will be looking to continue with this as well as to expanding operations to serve more of our clients in the region.”

The other area is something of a new step for the group – offshore construction work. “This is something really different, with different procedures and different standards. However, we’ve discussed the matter closely with our partners in the Romanian Government and the yard has the required capabilities. We plan to develop a dedicated offshore construction area on Quay C on the south east of the yard.”

Consistent quality, produced in-house

As well as these developments, expect to see increased employment opportunities as Damen develops its workforce and the local supply chain increases in scope.

“We believe that to optimize the yard, we need to have at least 3-4,000 people working here – double the current amount of personnel. This is to meet our goals of developing the yard so that all disciplines are in-house. We will still need the flexibility provided by sub-contractors, but we want a core team in place to cover all aspects of shipbuilding. In this way we will be able to ensure consistent high standards.

This operation is going to be a robust combination of Damen’s commercial power with the impressive facilities of the yard. And, with those tools, we are going to make sure the whole industry knows Mangalia.


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