5 years young. On its fifth anniversary, Damen Song Cam Shipyard looks forward
Damen Song Cam Shipyard is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year. Damen’s association with Vietnam goes back further than this. Before the yard opened its doors, the shipyards group had built 226 vessels in the country over a period of twelve years at five partner yards. One of these yards was Song Cam.
ACCESSING A WEALTH OF SHIPBUILDING KNOW-HOW
During this time, it became clear to Damen that Vietnam was host to a wealth of shipbuilding knowledge – enough, in fact to warrant a joint venture with the Song Cam shipyard. The plan was to open not just any yard, but a state-of-the-art, ultra-efficient production line, outfitting standardised Damen hulls produced at Song Cam shipyard, at a rate previously unseen.
Damen Song Cam Shipyard got off to an auspicious start, when on March 20th 2014, at a time appointed by favourable lunar conditions, the country’s Vice Minister of Transport, Mr Nguyen Hong Truong, cut the ribbon on the new facility.
Thus began a new operation at the 43-hectare site on the Cam River. The credentials of the new yard were notable; direct access to the open sea and sufficient space for a 120 x 85-metre outfitting hall, plus extra room for extensive carpentry and painting workshops. The new facilities were second to none; the joint venture made sure from the start that the vessels it produced would be of the highest possible standard.
DAMEN SHIPBUILDING PHILOSOPHY – OPTIMISED
To ensure utmost efficiency, Damen Song Cam insourced expertise including for electrical engineering and commissioning for electrical, hydraulic and HVAC systems. Furthermore, the yard implemented a system whereby the work is taken directly to the vessel being outfitted. Platforms alongside enable workers to get as close as possible to the boat, while ample storage space is provided at the same level for tools, equipment and components to avoid workers having to go up and down repeatedly.
In this way, the yard quickly achieved the capability to complete a Damen Tug in just one year, at a rate of 30 vessels per year – equivalent to approximately 1 million man-hours. “We could, at this stage, achieve 40 vessels per year, over 1.3 million man hours, but we are a little constrained by current market activity,” says Joris van Tienen, the yard’s managing director.
Damen Song Cam has, up to now, focused on the production of tugs and fast crew supply vessels. This has already broadened as Damen has expanded its tug portfolio with the next generation series. However, both the harbour towage and offshore crew supply markets have experienced a slow-down in recent years. Damen Song Cam has the answer to this.
“We will broaden our portfolio to include more of Damen’s product groups. In this way, we will minimise market dependency. We have already started on this journey with, for example, this year’s inclusion of the Fast Ferry 4212, the hull of which is supplied by our partner 189 Shipyard. Other options being considered include fishing and aquaculture vessels.
“In this way, we expect to facilitate a steady rise towards completion of 40-50 vessels per year, especially as our traditional markets begin to show the first signs of recovery now.”
As the yard’s portfolio broadens and its output increases, it expects to recruit more personnel. Currently, Damen Song Cam employs 650 persons, with further roles indirectly resulting from the yard’s activities; 950 in hull production at Song Cam Shipyard and 120 working for suppliers. Here too, there is a shifting pattern as the yard evolves, with a decrease in the amount of ex-pats and an increase in the number of local employees.
At this stage, Damen has constructed over 300 vessels in Vietnam and, this year, Damen Song Cam will deliver its 100th vessel – yard number 513305, an ASD Tug 2813 for Italian client Moby. In order to facilitate its evolution, Damen Song Cam continues to invest in the future. The latest investments include the addition of a second floating jetty in 2017 and a new warehouse in 2018.
“We’ve made investments over the past few years and now it’s time to make sure they deliver, not just for us, but for the relevant Damen product groups and business units and Damen’s entire commercial newbuild activity around the world.
“That’s not to say we’ve completed our plans, however, more changes are anticipated as we, as part of Damen’s Yards in the Lead initiative, take more responsibility for our own direction. We will be expanding our capabilities across the board, in terms of commissioning, engineering and supply chain. Additionally, we are looking to expand our role within the region. This will be multi-faceted, including acting as a Service Hub and a technical support pool as well as being a supplier to Damen projects at non-Damen yards in Vietnam as part of the Damen Technical Cooperation (DTC). Working closely together with the rest of the Damen Group gives me full confidence that this process will be a success.”
SAFETY FIRST – NOW & ALWAYS
One thing that will not be changing is the yard’s approach to safety; Damen Song Cam has an excellent track record in safety and Joris fully intends to keep it that way.
“We are very proud of our achievements in providing a safe workspace for our personnel and suppliers. We have realised 2.3 million safe man-hours. We are fully aware of the importance of this and safety remains – and will always remain – our number one priority in all that we do.”