Damen Shipyards Group has appointed Chiel de Leeuw to the newly-created position of Sales Director RoPax. This marks an important step in its strategy of expanding into the design and build of larger, one-off vessels in the offshore, cruise and RoPax sectors. In his new role, Chiel will be responsible for creating new business in the RoRo and RoPax markets for vessels over 120 metres in length.
The new role was created to allow an experienced individual to focus on these large, bespoke projects over the long term, and to develop a detailed understanding of the top-end of the RoRo/RoPax market. Chiel is a leading authority within Damen on this vessel class having successfully served as sales manager for Western Europe, a role that involved him in a wide variety of ferry projects, and he welcomes this new challenge. As Sales Director RoPax he has now become the public face of Damen within this sector.
A convergence of capability and opportunity
Damen believes that the timing is right for a move into the larger RoRo/RoPax market. Analysis by its business development department has identified an anticipated increase in demand for vessels of this size and type in the coming five to ten years, based on market cycles and new emissions regulations which are leading owners to consider both retrofit and newbuild solutions so as to ensure compliance.
Damen’s in-house research department already has the capabilities needed to develop the required EEDI and Safe Return to Port regulations, and KNUD E. HANSEN, the leading naval architecture practice that is a member of the Damen Shipyards Group, has many years’ experience in the design of such vessels up to 200 metres and more. Its track record in cruise ships and custom large offshore vessels, two other areas into which Damen is expanding, will also be of great value in the years ahead. In addition, the depth of its technical expertise in the fast-moving arena of environmental regulation will be a valuable asset to Chiel as he embarks on his new role, and he looks forward to working with them as well as with the design partners and third-party naval architects employed by the division’s clients.
As well as design and engineering capabilities, Chiel will have all the resources and expertise of Damen’s latest acquisition, Damen Shipyards Mangalia in Romania, to offer the large ferry sector. With docks up to 60 metres across and one million square metres of operational space, it is now the largest shipyard in the group and has the resources and infrastructure to undertake the largest and most complex vessels.
“It’s very exciting to have started out on this new role,” says Chiel. “It is a highly competitive market place, but with Damen’s exceptional human and physical assets plus a positive outlook for demand in the years ahead, I am very positive that we can bring new ideas and solutions to the sector and generate business.
“Damen Shipyards has always been active in the RoPax market,” he continues. “We have a track record of building large ferries such as the 130-metre Dokter Wagemaker road ferry constructed for Teso, and recently two, 80-metre Damen 8017 RoPax ferries delivered to the Provincial Government of Newfoundland on Canada’s Atlantic coast. Two 81-metre Damen Ferry 8117 Road Ferries are currently under construction at Damen Shipyards Galati for BC Ferries of British Columbia, Canada, for delivery in 2020. Besides that, two ferries with full electric propulsion, a Road Ferry 6819 and a Road Ferry 9819 (68 metres and 98 metres respectively), are also under construction for operation in the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes.