DISCOVER Magazine #7

It’s time to celebrate!

Published in category: Heritage & Culture

70 years of ship repair at Damen Oranjewerf

2019 is a special year for Damen Shiprepair Oranjewerf: it is celebrating seven decades of business. A look back through the archives shows that this is an occasion worthy of a proper recognition of 70 years of ship repair, maintenance, conversion and refit services. In fact, Oranjewerf has worked on such a huge variety of vessels over the years that it would be a challenge to think of a type vessel that the yard has not worked on.

This diversity also presents some common characteristics connecting all these vessels – and all these vessel owners. In a sector as demanding ship repair, the wealth of knowledge and experience that has been built up over the years by the Oranjewerf workforce has been instrumental in its success. The current team working at Oranjewerf illustrates this continuity of skills; some of them have worked there for more than 20 years, one of them for 40 years.


Another crucial feature of how Oranjewerf operates is its sharp focus on clients’ needs. This has been a cornerstone of operations since a consortium of local shipping companies and shipyards founded the yard back in 1949. This philosophy is still very much alive and well today. “We have excellent relationships with our clients. They know we work and they want to come here,” says Jeen van der Werf, sales manager at the yard.

Damen Oranjewerf historical photo and photo of present times

Offshore services

The yard’s location – just north of Amsterdam and close to the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal and the North Sea Canal – has played a significant part in its success over the years. Since joining the Damen Shipyards Group 30 years ago, the yard has received considerable investment relating to infrastructure, accessibility, safety, and environmental standards. This has seen the yard expand its coverage to more maritime sectors. So while Oranjewerf’s clients had traditionally come from inland and coastal shipping sectors, the upgraded facilities and straightforward access led to new clients from a larger range of sectors. This most notably includes ships from the offshore industry, with vessels operating out of nearby IJmuiden and Den Helder, and vessels working in the dredging and cargo sectors.


Flexible mind-set

What is interesting about the yard’s large number of returning customers is that these are handled by what is actually a relatively small shipyard. All work is carried out with just one dry-dock (135 x 23 metres, with a 6,000 tonne capacity) and one slipway (100 x 11 metres, 1,500 tonne capacity).


“While it is possible to offer them a docking position at another yard in the Damen Shipyards Group, they are mostly happy wait until the dock is available again,” Mr Van der Werf continues. “Because we only have one dock, we have to be flexible. This is possible because our lines of communication are inherently short.”

This results in extremely efficient operations at Damen Shiprepair Oranjewerf. The flexible mind-set has led to a 95% occupancy rate.

Every client has their own requirements – they take the lead and we get the work done, even if we have to work around the clock.

A day in Amsterdam

This work ethic brings us to a third common denominator in Oranjewerf’s operations: short turnaround times. These are important for every ship owner, of course, because downtime is simply not profitable. However, for the inland cruise sector this issue has particular relevance because a stopover in Amsterdam is a pretty much fixed into inland cruise vessel itineraries. Every year, for example, some 2,400 inland cruise vessels visit the city of Amsterdam. “About 25 to 30 of these come to us for some sort of docking,” he says. “A quick turnaround is paramount for these clients – and reducing this to less than six hours is our specialty.” For inland cruise vessel operators this is a major benefit of choosing Damen Shiprepair Oranjewerf. “They can drop passengers off at nine in the morning for a nice day exploring Amsterdam, and then be in our dry-dock at ten o’clock. We make sure that the work is done in time so that the vessel can pick up the passengers at three in the afternoon.” The yard still works with inland cruise vessels in the off-peak season, but then this is typically for more lengthy jobs such as special surveys or more intense maintenance tasks.

Clipper Stad Amsterdam
Fast sailing clipper ‘Stad Amsterdam’
Discover more about this project

“It’s never boring here – every day is different,” smiles Ronald Otten, managing director of Damen Shiprepair Oranjewerf. “But what makes it special are the great working relationships that we have with our clients. They are the reason behind our success.”

Damen Shiprepair Oranjewerf: a diverse portfolio

Hopper dredgers, side stone dumpers, cement carriers, trawlers, oil tankers, crane barges, push barges, tugs, offshore supply vessels, seismic support vessels, rescue vessels, dive support vessels, cutter dredgers, split barges, pontoons, fisheries inspection vessels, super yachts, steamers, three-masted sailing clippers, buoy tenders, and the list goes on…..

Monarch Queen 1


Ronald_Otten_Managing Director Damen Shiprepair Oranjewerf Ronald Otten
Managing Director
Damen Shiprepair Oranjewerf
Jeen van der Werf Commercial Manager Damen Shiprepair Oranjewerf Jeen van der Werf
Commercial Manager
Damen Shiprepair Oranjewerf
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