On the 2nd of November, Damen Shipyards signed a contract with the Dutch ferry joint venture Aqualiner-Swets for a total of nine passenger vessels. With these vessels, the joint venture will provide the public transportation service between Rotterdam and the Drecht cities on behalf of the Province of South Holland and the Region from 2022, better known as Waterbus. Aqualiner-Swets turned out to be the winner of a EU tendered contract of maximum fifteen years.
Damen will deliver a total of nine vessels, of which six are hybrid and carbon fibre Waterbuses to serve the fast ferry Intercity routes primarily between Sliedrecht, Dordrecht, Rotterdam and the World Heritage site Kinderdijk. Damen and the new operators have incorporated into the designed to the possibility to convert these vessels to full electric propulsion, by 2030 at the latest. The remaining three vessels, the City Ferries will be fully electric from the start of service in 2022 and will provide a service in the city area of Dordrecht, Papendrecht and Zwijndrecht.
Damen has developed the vessels to fulfil the green ambitions of Aqualiner-Swets, the regional minister of transport and all the local governments, including that all ferry services will be completely emissions free by 2030. All nine of the Waterbuses are therefore extremely efficient in terms of weight, hull design and systems, featuring a hybrid-electric arrangement for peak shaving. Sustainability is an important theme to be found running throughout the overall vessel design. For instance, Damen has developed the vessels’ interiors to be completely circular, using natural materials such as wool and wood, as well as recycled materials.
Together with the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (Marin), Damen performed a parametric study and hull optimisation, to improve the performance on the low wash catamarans. This is aimed at reducing the wake wash produced by the vessels, so as not to cause disruption to those living and working on the water in the area of operation.
Vincent Maes, Sales Manager Benelux said, “Our work on this project is a good demonstration of Damen’s role, not only as a shipbuilder, but as a provider of comprehensive maritime solutions. What makes it special is our close cooperation with the team of Aqualiner-Swets. Together we have considered every aspect of the operation, looking at vessel types, routes and speeds for maximum fuel efficiency and considering methods to improve the passenger experience,. The collaboration has been excellent so far and we are looking forward to continuing it during construction and beyond.”
Founders of Aqualiner-Swets Gerbrand Schutten and Maurice Swets attach great importance to mention that the collaboration with Damen has made a major contribution to the rapid growth of their ferry company.
Gerbrand Schutten said, “From the moment we joined together in 2017 to start DeWaterbus in Antwerp, Mr. Kommer Damen and his company believed in our inspiration, strategy and approach for the customers’ journey and our precious environment. With as a result this amazing contract and not fewer than nine new exciting hybrid and electric ferries. It was and will be quite a journey, but as Franklin Roosevelt once said: ’A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor’.”
On signing photo from left to right:
Vincent Maes (Sales Manager Benelux Damen), Kommer Damen (Chairman Damen), Gerbrand Schutten (Chief Executive Officer Aqualiner) and Maurice Swets (Chief Executive Officer Swets ODV Maritiem) during the contract signing