A three-year, 29-vessel contract came to an end as the last tugboat of the huge Serco contract was named SD Deborah at the Damen headquarters in Gorinchem on 3 December 2010.
Due to be deployed at Devenport, one of the main bases of the British Royal Navy, the SD Deborah was the smallest ASD tug in the order, which has included pilot boats, tugboats, high-speed craft, barges and a worldwide support vessel. SD Deborah is one of four sister tugs.
The 16 Damen vessel types included in the order ranged between 39.3 ft and 282 ft. They have been built at Damen-owned shipyards in the Netherlands, Poland and Romania.
In December 2007, Serco placed the multi-vessel order with Damen Shipyards Gorinchem to enable the international services group to support the British Royal Navy at its bases in Portsmouth, Devonport and the Clyde.
Serco operates and owns 110 vessels at the three naval ports under a 15-year contract.
Efficiency and cost-savings
Henk Grunstra, Damen Project Director, says: “We are very proud that this contract, which had a very tight deadline, has seen all the vessels delivered on time and on budget.”
One of the reasons Serco chose Damen for such a large contract was because everything can be done from one location, he stressed. “All of the supervision, inspections etc. were all handled through one single channel. This saved Serco a lot of time and money and makes handling such a big contract very efficient.”
“Around 50 people (out of a total Damen engineering staff of 150) have worked on the engineering side but Serco only needed to have two to three project engineers assigned for the supervision because the process is easily controllable. Everything can be streamlined through one location.”
Being able to offer all of the services and support centrally was also very important in the five-year preparation period before building got underway, emphasises Mr Grunstra.
Each vessel tailor-made for Navy contract
Damen tailor-made every vessel to perfectly suit the naval contract. The SD Deborah is designed to be a highly maneuverable vessel in a relatively small operating area. SD Deborah has two Rolls Royce U.S. 155CP, fully steerable propulsion units and it is fitted with a bow thruster. Thrusters of this type, in combination with controllable pitch propellers, make the SD Deborah highly maneuverable during all towing and pushing operations.
The vessel has achieved a Bollard Pull of 23.8 tons and a speed of 11.5 knots during sea trials.
Two Caterpillar 3508B diesel main engines generate 2,000 bhp. The tugboat can transport up to 12 passengers, as well as cargo and it can transfer fresh water and provide fire fighting and water spraying facilities.
The ASD Tug 2009 is the smallest ASD tug built by Damen and despite its size the vessel is capable of assisting both surface vessels and submarines.
Other details include special grey fendering rather than the traditional black, and the tug is fitted with underwater fendering for when it has to work alongside submarines.
The contract was handled by SD Marine Services, the procurement company of Serco under a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract with the British Ministry of Defence. This is the first PFI ever carried out in the marine industry.
Most of the 29 vessels are being used to replace older tonnage so Serco could also sell its old vessels through the Damen subsidiary, Damen Trading.
The naming ceremony was carried out by Lynda White, wife of Frank White, master with Serco in Devonport. To make the naming occasions extra special, each of the 29 naming ceremonies has been followed by a cultural visit. Following the naming ceremony of the SD Deborah the guests visited the Netherlands National Glass Museum in Leerdam.