Executives from Damen and Aqualiner-Swets sign the newbuild contract
Joint venture Aqualiner-Swets has contracted Damen Shipyards to build nine passenger ferries, which will provide a public transport service between Rotterdam and the Drecht cities in the Netherlands from 2022. Aqualiner-Swets will operate the vessels on behalf of the Province of South Holland and the Region (better known as Waterbus) for a maximum of 15 years as part of a new EU tender contract.
Six of the ferries will be carbon-fibre Waterbuses with hybrid propulsion systems that are designed to be converted into fully electric vessels by 2030 at the latest. They will serve the fast ferry intercity routes primarily between Sliedrecht, Dordrecht, Rotterdam and Kinderdijk. The three remaining vessels will have all-electric power and propulsion systems and operate as city ferries in Dordrecht, Papendrecht and Zwijndrecht.
Damen has collaborated with the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands to perform a parametric study and hull optimisation to ensure all nine Waterbuses are efficient in terms of weight, hull design, fuel consumption and operational performance. The design also reduces wake wash to prevent the vessels from disrupting those living and working on the water in the areas of operation.
“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,” said Vincent Maes, sales manager for Benelux at Damen Shipyards. “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.”
In keeping with Aqualiner-Swets’ green credentials, all the vessels will feature sustainable interiors with natural and recycled materials.
“From the moment we joined together in 2017 to start DeWaterbus in Antwerp, Kommer Damen and his company believed in our inspiration, strategy and approach for the customers’ journey and our precious environment and the result is this amazing contract and not fewer than nine new exciting hybrid and electric ferries,” said Gerbrand Schutten, co-founder of Aqualiner-Swets. “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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