Full circle support
One of the ports for the new fleet of patrol vessels for the Royal Bahamas Defence Force. The ports are part of the total package offered for the ‘Sandy Bottom Project’. All dredging and construction works are done by Van Oord. With Bahamas being renowned for its unique underwater flora and fauna, Van Oord has gone a step further environmentally by carefully transplanting live coral to selected nearby donor sites as well as creating artificial reefs.
The wealth of experience built up by operating more than 30 ship and repair yards around the world means that Damen’s knowledge doesn’t stop at ship fabrication – it also includes the development, design and construction of shipyard facilities. The branch of the organisation responsible for these operations is Damen Civil. Offering customers shipyard construction and infrastructure support reflects Damen’s philosophy of maintaining long term cooperative relationships with clients, says Civil and Modular Constructions Director Marcel Karsijns.
How did Damen Civil commence activities?
“It started about 15 years ago when clients came to us for help with certain small projects. However, we started to have a more focused approach offering civil engineering solutions about 7 years ago. A shipyard is far more than civil works though – we can offer a comprehensive package that includes everything the client needs. The added value for the client is that we are backed up by years of shipbuilding know-how.”
Was launching this subsidiary the logical step for Damen?
“It is logical that we use our own knowledge of shipbuilding and repair processes to optimise and upgrade our own and our clients’ yards. Having all that knowledge in-house also means that we can handle the whole project. There’s no need for expensive external consultancy, for example. But I wouldn’t say that it was the logical step, but just one of the many logical steps that Damen has taken over the years.”
You can be involved in an advisory role or a full turnkey package. How important is this flexibility to the client?
“The more flexible you are, the better the relationship you can build up with your client. We look at the bigger picture while focusing on the details as well. For example, if we sell a ferry then we have the capacity to offer more. We can also take care of the entire ship-shore interface – addressing how the vessel berths and how the passengers are transferred. The important point is that we are the consultant and the executor at the same time. This relationship continues after the construction of the yard into the service, maintenance and repair phases.”
How does Damen Civil fit in the company’s portfolio?
“Naturally, the experience that we gain improves the processes and technologies in our own shipyards. More importantly, the combination of Damen Civil with Damen Technical Cooperation means that we can offer optimal realisation of shipbuilding facilities – in terms of both infrastructure and vessel design. On completion of the vessel, the yard is ready to provide service and maintenance of the fleet, representing the start of a long period of cooperation with the client.”
How important is local content in this process?
“If you look at the SIGMA frigate that was recently delivered to the Indonesian Navy – this was a Damen vessel built at a local yard. However, getting the yard infrastructure ready beforehand was crucial for the success of the project. In general we see more and more governments requiring their military vessels to be built in their own country, which also provides education, training and sustainable employment. We transfer a lot of civil knowledge to the local workforce – this is very valuable for the future prospects of local economy.”
How is the principle of standardisation used?
“We try to standardise components as much as possible – it brings the same benefits to constructing a shipyard as it does when you build ships. This gives us better purchasing power which brings savings that we pass on to our customers. Of course local circumstances will always vary – that’s why we carry out preliminary studies. It’s necessary that our designs are flexible in that respect to accomplish the optimal realisation and design of shipyard facilities. That’s how Damen Civil really fits in with the company’s strategy of being a maritime mobility provider.”