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Friday, May 22, 2020 

Despite cruise operations and many shipyard operations ceasing because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dutch yard De Hoop has overcome the difficulties and is managing to complete newbuild 'Silver Origin' for Silversea Cruises.

According to Silversea, despite the global lockdown, De Hoop implemented rigid safety procedures, reduced its workforce, and devised ingenious ways to overcome the challenges, including a world-first during the ship’s sea trial.

Relatively isolated in Lobith, a remote corner of the Netherlands, De Hoop shipyard offered its 250-strong workforce the option to cease working. While many were forced to return home before borders closed, approximately 200 employees—mainly skilled carpenters—opted to continue. Many were accommodated in an on-site residential barge Rossini, which had a reduced capacity from 200 to 100 for safety purposes.

Workers underwent daily temperature checks; enhanced cleaning procedures were established in the living quarters, the crew mess, and throughout Silver Origin; and strict social distancing measures were implemented, including a 1.5m separation rule and a one-way system throughout the ship. Video calls replaced face-to-face meetings.

With supplies of equipment and fittings cut off, small hurdles became giant obstacles, but the team persevered, and the ship was readied for sea trials. Even before the lockdown shallow waters on the Waal River had delayed float out, followed by heavy rain leading to high water levels that prevented Silver Origin and the accompanying accommodation vessel from passing beneath the 12 bridges that separate De Hoop Shipyard from the sea. Once levels had returned to normal, there were only four weeks between arrival in Rotterdam and the sea trial.

Necessitated by the travel ban, which prevented sub-contractors from reaching the ship, Silver Origin’s sea trials included a historic world-first: the DP acceptance test saw the system remotely tuned and calibrated from St Petersburg, Russia - over 1,800km away.

“This was the first time such an operation has been completed remotely during a sea trial,” said De Hoop director Fre Drenth. “I am enormously proud of my team for their work.”

The finishing touches are now being applied to Silver Origin, which is docked in Pernis in the Netherlands, by 45 members of De Hoop’s workforce who remain on barge Rossini, prior to final handover.

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