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RoRo developments revive historic Dutch yard's fortunes

Although Dutch yard Van der Giessende Noord is celebrating its 175th anniversary, it could be argued that the last five years have been the most significant. The government's withdrawal in the mid-1980s of much (of its considerable) financial support led to a period of retrenchment, reorganization, and inevitably, redundancies. In the end the yard came through, and since 1990 has won orders for 10 RoRo ferries and a number of cargo vessels.

Standardization has played a major part in the yard's success. For example, nine of the 10 RoRos are built to a standard hull design, with variations to suit the owner's individual requirements. According to the yard, the benefits include a reduced tendering period, short delivery times and competitive pricing.

The basic design has a 77-ft. (23.4-m) beam, and is available in lengths from 443 ft. (135 m) to 597 ft. (182 m). The design — first developed for a series of four vessels for an Italian owner was refined in the form of Norbank and Norbay, a pair of identical 6,790-dwt ships for North Sea Ferries.

The three most recent orders are, however, of particular interest. Nearing completion are two identical 443-ft. versions for Dalian Marine Transport of China, claimed to be the first newbuilds of this type ordered by Asian owners from a European yard. The vessels have sleeping accommodations for 938 passengers, as well as a capacity for 215 cars and 80 trucks. Two 5,760-kW Stork Wartsila W38 engines will provide the power, turning a pair of Lips CP propellers. A 900-kW bowthruster is also fitted. Isle of Innisfree, which entered service with Irish Ferries in May this year, illustrates the time-saving advantages of the standard design principle. The 596-ft. (181.6- m) vessel was delivered within 14 months of design work completion. The customer—in an effort to maximize profits during the peak summer season — decided to stretch the ferry by inserting an extra 49-ft. (14.85-m) mid-section. This decision was made at the tank testing stage. The result is a highly effective ship with day accommodations for 1,650 passengers and more than 100 articulated freight vehicles. Four Sulzer ZA40S engines — developing a total of 23,000 kW — drive a pair of KaMeWa highly skewed propellers via Lohmann and Stolterfoht gearboxes. A pair of 1,500-kW KaMeWa bowthrusters are fitted, and powered by ABB shaft alternators.

In contrast, the 10th RoRo is not like any of the previous nine. Realizing the limitations of its 76.7-ft.

(23.4-m) beam, and seven-vehicle lane, the company began the development of a new eight-lane standard design in 1993. Although this work was nearing completion, the team had to make a complete reappraisal when the Estonia sank.

Modifications were made, and in April, Stena Line ordered a 595-ft. (181.5-m) x 91-ft. (27.8-m) RoRo/ train/passenger ferry with a projected delivery date of May 1996.

The vessel will have a train track length of 1,870 ft. (570 m), a trailer lane length of6,900 ft. (2,100 m) and will be able to accommodate 1,500 passengers and 550 private cars. Damaged stability on the new design has been tackled by a variety of measures. The design includes two 11.5-ft. (3.5-m) high longitudinal bulkheads which stretch threequarters of the ship's length. Tophinged watertight doors at each end form two enclosed freight vehicle lanes on each side of the ship. A second inner bow door will be incorporated, and a new bow door/ramp a r r a n g e m e n t — devised by Kvaerner Ships Equipment — will be fitted. This is a system which meets all the new Scandinavian requirements, including: the ability to withstand higher sea loads; improved locking devices; and separation of the inner and outer parts of the ramp when stowed.

Subsequently, the yard's financial situation has improved. In 1993 it was able to sever all fiscal ties to the Dutch government, and additional investment has been made or is planned. The CAD/CAM system originally installed in 1990 was re- cently upgraded to the TRIBON system from Kockums Computer Systems. A new plasma cutting machine began work at the beginning of the year, and a shot-blasting and painting hall is currently under construction. The next project is to extend the existing outfitting quay by around 200 ft. (60 m).

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