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Dutch Builders Enjoy Influx Of International Orders

The Dutch shipbuilding industry has been very active in the newbuilding sector recently, with many yards winning new orders not only from the domestic scene but also from international owners. A complicated tax system, which allows Dutch owners financial benefits from ordering within the Dutch shipbuilding industry and using Dutch registries and crews, has allowed the yards to win some work from the domestic market over recent months. However, it is currently uncertain as to whether this system will be allowed to continue. Rotterdam's van der Giessen de-Noord has continued its success in the ferry market with yet another order, this time from Sweden's Stena line. The $95 million contract involves a 1,500-passenger capacity vessel, which is due for delivery during May 1996. One of the main reasons behind the Stenaawarded contract was the use of designs from previous ferries for North Sea Ferries, thus guaranteeing a short delivery time. Also currently on order at the yard are two 1,000-passenger capacity ferries for Dalian Marine Transport in mainland China.

Another new order placed this summer in Holland was a $98 million contract from U.K.- based Westminster Dredging, a subsidiary of Holland's Royal Boskalis Westminster NV, for a 23,000-cu.-m. trailing suction hopper dredger to be built at Verolme Heusden, part of the Wilton Fijenoord Holdings BV group. The vessel, which will be one of the largest of its kind in the world, will be delivered during the spring of 1997. The yard is also currently building two specialized products tankers for domestic owner Gebr Boere. Following an order placed last year for a 7,280- dwt specialized heavy lift vessel to be built at YVC Ysselwerft, Rotterdam, Khan Shipping, part of the Jumbo Shipping operation, has now placed an order for a second ship.

Damen Shipyards recently won two orders from the international market, a series of three harbor tugs for Africa's Ghana Ports Authority, and a series of smaller harbor tugs for Australia's Howard Smith, a company which controls a great deal of tug operations in the U.K. De Schelde, located at Vlissingen, has for many years concentrated on the naval buildingindustries, although over recent months has moved successfully back into the commercial market. The current orderbook comprises two RoRo vessels for Commodore Shipping, and, placed during the summer months, an order for a catamaran ferry from Greek shipowner A. Valsamis.

IHC Holland, one of the largest dredger-building companies throughout the world, has recently completed a series of such vessels for mainland China and is now working on a dredger order for the Suez Canal Authority, and an 18,000-dwt capacity dredger for J a n de Nul, which was originally ordered from Belgium's Boelwerf and then taken over by IHC after the Belgian yard went bankrupt.

In the north of Holland there are a number of small shipbuilding yards situated along the Westdiep Canal, near Groningen. Many of these yards are marketed by Conoship, a central design and marketing organization set up to assist the smaller yards on the international market. Recent new contracts for the north Holland shipyards include a 4,250-dwt general cargo vessel to be built by Bijlholt for Germany's Bockstiegel, as well as two sisterships for Dutch owners; a series of 4,200-dwt dry cargo vessels for various Dutch and German owners to be built at Bodewes Volharding; a series of four 2,000- dwt chemical tankers to be built by Damen for Germany's Gefo; one 4,200-dwt, and two 6,000- dwt dry cargo vessels to be built by Pattje for Germany's Hartmann; and a 6,100-dwt reefer vessel ordered from Van Diepen by reefer specialist Vroon, in Breskens.

Meanwhile, the first in a series of newlydesigned Cono Feeder 200 container feeder ships, the 205-TEU Bermuda Islander, was launched at Tille Shipyards, Kootstertille, on August 26, marking a return to full shipbuilding activities for the shipyard. For the past five years, the shipyard, part of Central Industry Group (CIG), Groningen, has been utilized as a section-only building yard.

The ship will be operated by Armawa Shipping & Trading, Groningen, and will enter a longterm charter of three years with Bermuda International Shipping Ltd. (BISL) with three option periods of one year each, when she is delivered during October of this year. She will operate on the New Jersey to Hamilton (Bermuda) feeder service, a service operated by BISL since 1985. Although she will be operating on the U.S. eastern seaboard, the vessel will remain under Dutch flag and will be ere wed, both officers and ratings, by Dutch nationals.

The shipyard has built the vessel in record time, with the keel laid during April this year, the launching during August, and delivery scheduled for mid-October. The order from Armawa Shipping comprises one further sistership with an option, dependent upon financial support from the Dutch Government through the tax laws, for an additional two ships. The practical yet flexible design will be marketed by Conoship International, Groningen, which handles the marketing activities for a total of nine north Dutch shipyards, including Tille. The design will also be marketed, along with Tille Shipyards, by Shipkits International, London, also part of CIG, as a shipkit. Armawa Shipping is also building two similarly designed ships at Frisian Shipyard, also part of CIG, although these two ships will be geared with a single 40-ton crane on the main deck. For delivery reasons, the two building at Frisian Shipyard have been subcontracted from Tille.

The Dutch ship repairing industry has had to undergo various reorganization programs over recent months as competition from a number of sources continues to bite.

Cheaper steel prices in the former eastern European and Soviet nations, especially Poland, along with added competition on the conversion market by Germany, and more recently, Scandinavia, has proved tough for many of the yards.

Cheaper overall repair prices in the U.K. also contributed to losses in the general repair market for the Dutch yards.

Holland also leads Europe's "green" lobby regarding the cleanup of heavy industries such as ship repair. Discharge controls in all the yards are monitored by the authorities; which some believe puts Holland at a disadvantage compared with yards from the Mediterranean and former eastern European areas. Rotterdam's Wilton Fijenoord, part of Wilton Fijenoord Holdings BV, has been one of the main losers in this latest fight for survival, the workforce being recently reduced from 750 to 450. The yard, which was once part of Holland's naval building industry, now survives on the general repair market, although it is keen to re-enter the conversion market with the yard's 40,000-dwt capacity covered graving dock. Meanwhile, Verolme Botlek, also part of Wilton Fijenoord Holdings BV, has managed to survive due to its ability to operate in both conventional and offshore industries. On the commercial shipping scene, and as part of guarantee requirements, New Sulzer Diesel Ltd., Winterthur, placed an order with Verolme Botlek to remove, transport to Sulzer Works, and then reinstall one out of four nine-cylinder engines (ZA40S) onboard the North Sea Ferriesowned passenger/car vessel Norbank. Through holes in the main deck and lower deck, the yard's 80- ton capacity crane took the engine ashore for transport to the Sulzer Works, reinstalling the unit on the return to the shipyard.

Simultaneously, Verolme Botlek also carried out general repairs to Norbank's sistership Norbay, both vessels being drydocked together in the large No. 7 graving dock. Major projects on the offshore side of the yard's activities carried out in the course of this year thus far include repairs to jack-up rigs Ensco 71, Ensco 80 and Ensco 85, t h e Maersk Giant, Arethusa Scotian, and semi-submersible rig Sedco Explorer. In the case of the Ensco rigs, work was carried out on a simultaneous basis.

The Ensco 80 was one of the largest offshore contracts carried out at Verolme Botlek this year, the rig being converted from a slot type unit into a cantilever unit, for which, in addition to the fabrication and installation of the cantilever itself, extensive structural reconstruction work had to be carried out. The assembling and installation of a new derrick, including the top drive, was also pertinent to project completion. Other maj or items included enlargement of the mud storage capacity, modification of the accommodation, four new lifeboat platforms, a new exhaust gas system, and fabrication/ installation of two sponson tanks to port and starboard front sections.

Apart from the two large yards in Rotterdam, there are a number of smaller yards — for example, YVC Bolnes, Van Brink, Niehuis & van den Berg and Vlaardingen Oost all of which operate successfully in the small ship market. Other yards in Holland include Shipdock A m s t e r d am and Scheldepoort, Vlissingen, both of which operate successfully in the general repair market. One of Shipdock's largest repair contracts this year involved the 6,750-dwt Netherland Antillesregistered trailing suction hopper dredger Alpha B. The vessel, which is owned by Exploner NV of Curacao, suffered an engine room fire on May 7th.

YVC Bolnes recently began the conversion contract involving the 7,780-dwt Dutch heavy-load general cargo vessel Fairlift. The contract involves increasing heavy lift capability from 250 tons to 400 tons, the vessel and general vessel repairs and survey operations. The owner of the vessel is Kahn Scheepvaart BV, and she is operated by Jumbo Shipping Co. S.A. of Switzerland. YVC has also booked the 2,446-dwt Dutch LPG carrier Coral Actinia, which is owned by Dutch shipowner Anthony Veder & Co., Rotterdam. The vessel will undergo a 78.7-ft. (24-m) mid-body lengthening operation, and an additional gas tank (1,000 cu. m.)will be installed, with completion during early 1996. A similar lengthening operation is expected to be carried out at YVC Bolnes onboard a sistership during 1996.

R o t t e r d am ship repair yard Niehuis & van den Berg BV has recently completed the conversion of the cable-laying and burial ship Dock Express 20. The vessel underwent modifications to increase her cable-carrying capacity to 11,000 tons, and a new accommodation block was installed for the 90 officers, crew, and a specialized project crew from AT&T Submarine Systems Inc., that will be onboard. The vessel is to complete outfitting work at AT&T's Baltimore facility, after which she will load an ITUR cable system at Newington for installation between Istanbul and Sicily.

The ship, which is owned by Dockwise NV of Belgium, is now the largest cable-layer in the world. The Belgian shipbuilding industry is still awaiting the outcome of negotiations between the Belgian government and various interested parties over the future of Boelwerf, the country's largest shipbuilding complex, which has now been closed for some months following bankruptcy. Germany's Bremer Vulkan has been one of the leading parties interested in taking over the yard, although subsidies would have to be guaranteed by the Belgian government before the Germans signed any deal. Meanwhile, while the yard's future is decided, half-com- pleted ships remain at the yard. Belgium Shipbuilding Corp.

(BSC), which is a sales organization set up for three Belgian shipyards Fulton, Langebrugge and Ruplemonde — has recently won a six-ship order from German chemical tanker specialist Gefo. It has yet to be decided which shipyards will participate in this order, although it is expected that all three will play a part. On the ship repair side of Belgian maritime activities, Antwerp Shiprepairers, now part of Rotterdam's Kopke Group, has returned to the general repair industry and will play an important role in northern Europe's repair industry. Since re-opening on December 12, 1994, Antwerp Shiprepairers repaired a total of 134 ships, 31 of which involved drydocking operations that lasted until mid-June of this year.




Ship Repair History

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