DISCOVER Magazine #7

Sharing the knowledge

Published in category: Damen Services

Damen’s Training Department is at the heart of the company. The expert team are involved right from the start of the vessel’s design & proposal phase. They prepare tailor-made courses for each client, depending on their requirements, ranging from vessel familiarisation courses to full, Integrated Logistic Support (ILS) programmes.

Joost Haafkens, Project Manager Services comments: “Each training course is customised for the client – no programme is ever the same.” The courses can also take place wherever the client wishes – at Damen’s headquarters in the Netherlands, at their own premises, or at one of the many other shipyards in the group.

The familiarisation course for both the nautical and technical crew is the most popular and this typically ranges from 2 to 4 weeks. Coen van der Woerd, Project Engineer, explains that here Damen works very closely with the OEMs to provide an integrated training package.

Damen has its own Training Captains, who are carrying out trials and deliveries, so they are ideally placed to conduct vessel familiarisation courses. “We always make sure we have the right trainer for the job, they know all the characteristics of that particular vessel inside out.”

Coen adds: “The familiarisation course gives them a head start, helps them get to know their way around the new vessel. For example, pre-checks, how to start up and operate the systems; sailing, maintenance, troubleshooting…”

Safety first

Karel Slangen, Project Manager, says: “Our courses are very practical, and safety always comes first. Safety leads in every training. The highly qualified teacher creates a safe zone and we start with the basics; fire drills, setting up a fire hose, operating fire dampers.”

Initially, it can be somewhat daunting for trainees, they admit. “At first we can see that perhaps they are a bit worried about the new vessel. When considering that they may be used to a conventional tug from the sixties and now they are faced with a brand new, powerful ASD tug, which is operated with a touchscreen, or if they are going to be the crew of a high-speed Damen Interceptor capable of travelling at speeds of 55 knots per hour, this apprehension is understandable.


Ready and motivated

“They know they are entirely responsible. But we help to take away that initial hesitation and you see them become more empowered with their new knowledge. You see eyes change to excitement and they are ready and motivated. It is great to see this change as they know they are now capable of sailing their own vessel safely and efficiently.”

Some recent examples of courses are those for the Vietnam Coast Guard, where a crew of 40 participated in a 6-week programme concerning the nautical and technical systems for four Offshore Patrol Vessels 2400.

And twelve electrical technicians from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) were attending a course about the Coast Guard’s two new Stan Patrol 4207 vessels. The new Damen vessels will be used to patrol the Exclusive Economic Zone, which is in excess of 200 nautical miles from the shore.

Practical work & theory

The 2-week course includes training at Damen HQ and a week at a technical college ROVC, as well as specialist courses at suppliers, such as Caterpillar and Gebhard Electro.

The Damen training packages can be very extensive. For example, the team arranged a specifically designed 3-month training programme for the United Arab Emirates Coast Guard for its two Damen OPV 6711 vessels, which actually involved 40 different courses from the complete propulsion line to operating the helicopter refuelling system.


Trained crew = more uptime

And a more unusual course involves the crew of a new Sail Training Vessel. Here Damen works with the crew of the tall ship Stad Amsterdam and Enkhuizen Maritime School. This involves an intensive maintenance course where the crew works with specialists on the maintenance of rigging and sails. And ultimately, the staff and crew are capable of sailing and operating a full-rigged clipper. Karel comments: “We understand uptime is vital for owners. They want their vessels in operation, earning money. And for sure, a properly trained crew results in more uptime.

“If the crew understands how to use spares correctly; not to be wasteful but to replace equipment and parts at the correct time this ultimately extends the lifetime of the vessel and reduces overall lifecycle costs. A motivated, knowledgeable crew will do things sooner – they have the knowledge needed.”

As well as these courses, Damen offers extensive simulator training on its own simulator, which specialises in ASD Tugs and Fast Crew Suppliers, and it also works with VSTEP to provide a NAUTIS full mission bridge simulator. Additionally, Damen is developing its e-learning and virtual reality programmes.

As Joost points out: “We always have the mantra that wherever there is water, there is Damen, but now we also add, wherever there is Damen, there is also a training programme!”

A selection of the main courses:

  • Vessel familiarisation
  • Technical & operational training
  • Vessel maintenance
  • Navigation & communication
  • Sailing & manoeuvring
  • Safety & environment
  • ASD Tugmaster training
  • Shipbuilding
  • Shakedown training
  • Launch & Recovery training

As well as in-house training Damen Services also offers:

  • Certified training and simulator courses
  • Multilevel safety and firefighting training programmes
  • Certified operation and maintenance courses at the leading OEM


Gary Hanson, a Marine Technician (JDF), commented on the course:

“It is very informative. When we go back home we will be able to manage the vessels more effectively and we can pass this knowledge on to our juniors.

“The topics covered by the Damen course are very much in line with what we have to do on a daily basis. It is also a nice balance between practical work and theory. Additionally, for many of us it is our first time in Europe and the whole package including hotels, transport, flights, weekend tours is very well put together.”

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