DISCOVER Magazine #7

New product: the Damen Waterbus enters production

Published in category: Innovation

Use of composites makes ‘assembly to order’ possible, cutting delivery times dramatically

‘Assembly to order’ is the latest innovative concept Damen is introducing in its production portfolio. Made possible by the use of composites, the Damen Waterbus can be adapted into several applications from ferries to inspection vessels and can be built in just six months or less – half the time of a conventional vessel.

Henk Grunstra, Product Director Ferries, explains: “This method, whereby modules and components are assembled is relatively straightforward when using composites.”

Damen is deploying the latest vacuum infusion and vacuum bagging techniques at its specialist yard in Antalya, Turkey but also worldwide. “The beauty of this method is that we can build anywhere and customers can also purchase a licence and build in their chosen location.”

All of the Waterbus components have been fully engineered and standardised after several years of R&D work and all approvals are in place, with the modules complying with the latest EU passenger regulations and they are classed by Lloyd’s Register.
Assembly to order is possible for vessels between 16 m to 24 m but Damen doesn’t rule out making longer vessels of up to 28 m. There are a wide range of Waterbus applications including water taxis, inspection vessels, dinner cruise boats, survey boats and sightseeing boats. Damen is currently developing more propulsion options including electrical hybrid versions. “We will kick off production very soon,” Henk says.

“These vessels are maintenance friendly, clean, light and fuel efficient. Any maintenance savings are very important for the ferry operators – every penny saved is welcome.”

As well as being fuel efficient – with savings of 25% expected – the Damen Waterbus is suited to a single man operation. With the standard IPS propulsion system from Volvo, Damen offers a joystick control and Dynamic Positioning. “Having this DP ability makes it safer, more stable and having a one man operation saves substantially on crewing costs, which is especially important in the smaller ferry market.”

Able to carry up to 100 passengers, these vessels could cost considerably less compared with similar aluminium vessels but they still have a comparable lifetime. The Damen Waterbus is also easy to repair.

“This is really the next step in modern transport on water,” Henk stresses. “Assembly to order fits perfectly with our top class product development and philosophy of standardisation. This is a true Damen design and development product.

“We can offer very attractive delivery times, even when we are incorporating specific customer requirements.”

Although composites are highly suited in the smaller vessels, aluminium is still very important for high-speed catamarans and steel for conventional ferries. And aluminium and steel ferries are as popular as ever in the medium and large sectors.

Recently, Damen was awarded an order for two 80 m ropax Super Ice Class ferries which will operate in New Foundland (Canada).

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