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Tuesday, November 3, 2020 

Damen Shipyards has signed a contract with Dutch ferry joint venture Aqualiner-Swets for a total of nine environmentally-friendly passenger vessels, to provide public transport between Rotterdam and the Drecht cities, resulting from an EU tendered contract to run the services for up to 15 years.

Damen will deliver a total of nine vessels, of which six are hybrid Waterbuses construced in carbon fibre, and which will serve the fast ferry Intercity routes primarily between Sliedrecht, Dordrecht, Rotterdam and the World Heritage site of Kinderdijk. Damen has incorporated the possibility of future full electric propulsion into the design, which is envisaged to be implemented by 2030 at the latest. The remaining three City Ferries, which will provide a service in the city area of Dordrecht, Papendrecht and Zwijndrecht will be fully electric from the start of service in 2022.

The design will 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 highly 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 incorporate 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, Damen 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.”

Co-founder of Aqualiner-Swets 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’.”

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