An insight into the ship repair business
When Damen delivers a vessel, that is not the end of the client-shipbuilder relationship. In fact, considering that some of Damen’s vessels are still operational as long as forty years after launching, you could say that it is the just the beginning. One branch of the company that plays a major part in keeping vessels in prime operational condition is Damen Shiprepair & Conversion (DSC).
While DSC has the same working practices as any company within the Damen Group – safety first, quality standards and client focus, for example – there are also major differences to be found in the ship repair sector. Jeroen Heesters, DSC Group Commercial Director, explains:
This is a business with a very short outlook, which is a world away from working on a new-build project which entails more long-term planning.
A challenge to be relished
“Of course we have bigger conversion and lifetime extension jobs that last for a year or so, but most of the work is short term short contracts – working weeks and sometimes days ahead. The very nature of ship repair means that we have to be ready to take on last-minute jobs such as collision repairs. Therefore, we never know what the day will bring – a challenge that keeps us on our toes!”
Damen’s network of 14 shiprepair yards is showing consistent growth; currently comprising sixteen different companies. This includes recent acquisitions in Amsterdam, Dunkerque, Brest, and in 2017 on the island of Curaçao and Verolme in Rotterdam. A vital aspect of this expansion is to maintain uniform levels of quality throughout the DSC network.
After all, when a client sees the Damen logo at the gate, they expect a certain level of service mentality,
Serving the whole maritime sector
The way that DSC achieves efficiency is worthy of note, especially considering the sheer number of yards and their geographical distribution. “With 14 shiprepair yards around the world, it is sometimes a puzzle to find the best fit of which job best matches which yard. Of course, there are certain physical limits like dock size or quay length, but we also have to take client requirements into account. Where is the vessel now? Where is it heading? We are pleased to say that we are always able to offer our clients a solution.”
The fact that DSC can receive vessels from every single maritime sector is another important point; and also one that poses its own set of unique challenges. “Whether it’s dredging or LNG, offshore wind or cruise ships – we have to have the broadest scope of knowledge. Starting off from a sales perspective, we work with a matrix of areas and specific product groups. This requires good communication, but the benefit is that we all can use each other’s knowledge.”
No reliance on oil contracts
Until five or six years ago, oil contracts made up a substantial part of DSC’s annual turnover. So how has the company experienced the drop in global oil prices? “Of course, mirroring the worldwide ship repair industry, we have also seen a significant drop in oil-related contracts. However, at the same, numerous other sectors are picking up, and we have the experience and the yard capacity to act on these trends.” This includes naval contracts from both Dutch and foreign navies, and regular work for the ferry industry and offshore wind sector.
The cruise market is definitely a growing market for us at DSC, as it is for our new-build yards too,
And our covered facilities at Vlissingen, Rotterdam and Harlingen are especially attractive for superyacht refit projects. For example, we currently have a 140-metre yacht in our covered dry dock in Vlissingen. And scrubbers retrofits, of course, are going to be needed throughout the maritime industry.”
Many yards – One Damen
In addition to these various growing sectors, DSC is also taking on more of the engineering scope of works. “For the bigger conversion jobs, in particular, the responsibility of engineering is shifting more and more over to us. This is a general trend that uses our experience to write engineering specifications.”
Visitors to Damen’s repair yards will see a wide of a vessel types from an equally wide range of maritime sectors. The geographical scope is also considerable; Singapore, Curacao, United Arab Emirates, and twelve more in Europe. However, as Jeroen says,
When you see the Damen flag flying at the gate, you can expect the same standards of quality wherever you are.
Zr. Ms. Rotterdam in dok IV of Damen Shiprepair Amsterdam