American constructor Conrad Shipyard
How Damen vessels are built in the USA
René J. Leonard
Vice President Business Development and Engineering
At the end of summer 2016, Young Brothers, Hawaii’s largest inter-island cargo service provider, ordered four new Damen Stan Tugs 3711 from Conrad Shipyard, Louisiana. With deliveries pencilled in from Q1 2018 onwards, the vessels will be built under a license and materials agreement between Conrad Shipyard and Damen. René J. Leonard, Conrad Shipyard Vice President Business Development and Engineering, answers some questions about the details of this arrangement while pointing out the potential advantages that Damen’s relationship with Conrad Shipyard can offer the American market.
Can you introduce the reader to Conrad Shipyard?
Conrad Shipyard was founded in 1948 by Mr. Parker Conrad. There are similarities to Damen in that it is a family-run business: Parker’s son, Johnny, is the CEO and his grandson, Dan, is Senior Vice President. Parker recently celebrated his 101st birthday and, up until five or six years ago, visited the shipyard every day.
We have five shipyards along the Gulf Coast, four in Louisiana and one in Texas, that focus on various markets including inland waterway vessels, barges, and inland and offshore tugs. We have also been active in the ferry market in recent years; and a number of governmental programmes building dredgers, barges and towboats.
How long has Conrad Shipyard worked with Damen?
This is the first contract between Damen and Conrad. However, there are a number of people within Conrad, including myself, who have worked with Damen on previous occasions. I like the fact that Damen standardises its products as well as the equipment within the products. This makes for a more efficient build process. And, they have a very professional team of engineers and designers. We saw this opportunity to work with Damen as a chance to be more competitive in what we can offer our customers.
What is Damen’s involvement in the four tugs for Young Brothers?
At this point, they are very involved. They are specifying the materials and buying their long-lead equipment because they provide everything on the vessels except the steel and engines. I have been over to the Netherlands to work through some of the details of the final design to incorporate requirements that are unique to the United States. This also includes customer-specific modifications that affect the internal arrangement and hull. And, we have a team of eight guys over there at the moment to review the design and materials package. This will make the transition easier once we start receiving materials at our end.
How do you see the construction process progressing?
Construction will ramp up after the keel-laying ceremony, with the significant amount of work happening in 2017. Damen will have one or two guys here at the Morgan City yard, checking the material when it arrives and assisting the construction process. Towards delivery, I expect that they will have more guys here to check if all the systems are functioning properly.
How can American ship operators benefit from Conrad Shipyard’s cooperation with Damen?
Damen has such a global presence, and the standardisation over their various products gives them better buying-power than we can achieve as an individual shipyard. The material package for the client ends up being much less expensive. But there are also long term benefits for customers because of the support that Damen can provide, including warranties, maintenance and spare parts, as well as technical assistance to solve issues in the future. Damen has a large experienced team that operators can rely on. We are looking forward to the opportunity of continuing this relationship.