Recently, Aqualiner signed a contract with Damen Shipyards for four Damen Waterbus 2407 vessels. The waterbuses will provide public transport services in the Belgian city of Antwerp, as part of a wider transportation program also including land-based public transport services and road improvement schemes. This is the first order for the new Waterbus 2407.
Although new, the Waterbus 2407 is based on proven solutions developed by Damen’s in-house R&D team. The first vessel was delivered from stock, and the additional three will be built at Damen Shipyards Antalya in Turkey, the group’s composite specialist. As composite vessels, the waterbuses are not only lightweight and efficient; they are also free from corrosive properties and offer very low maintenance.
Aqualiner and Waterbus from the Netherlands have already proven that fast, modern passenger vessels can significantly contribute to urban mobility. Gerbrand Schutten, has led this operation over the past 8 years and is responsible for the success of the waterbus system in the Rotterdam area. When this operation began, Damen delivered eight vessels to the company, all of which are still in service.
One of the key factors in Damen being awarded the contract, following a tender process by the Port of Antwerp, was the company’s philosophy of building standard vessels for stock. Schutten, Director of Aqualiner, explained, “As part of the contractual agreement we wanted to present Port of Antwerp and the city with a working waterbus in a very short timeframe. As Damen had one of these vessels on stock at the time, this was easily accomplished.”
“We are also impressed by Damen’s track record in waterbuses,” stated his business partner, Maurice Swets. Underlining the thinking behind Damen’s international footprint and global service coverage, he continued, “It also helped that Damen is so close by in the Netherlands. Having Damen personnel in such close proximity and on hand at all times gave us a great deal of confidence that we can easily access support even after the vessels have entered service.”
The first Waterbus will operate a service connecting the center of Antwerp with the southern reaches of the city. It will later expand with a similar service to the north. When the four waterbuses are in operation, both services will be able to offer half-hourly transportation.
This full scope will be achieved very quickly thanks to the processes in place at Damen’s Antalya yard, Meindertsma explained. “We have invested in moulds so that we can construct these waterbuses in record time. The entire service is planned to be operational end of August 2018.”
In the design process, Damen has paid particular attention to on board comfort, for both operators and passengers. Ease of operation is assured thanks to the ergonomic joystick controls, whilst passengers enjoy spacious boarding and panaromic views of the city.
The naming ceremony of the first vessel, Aqua Diamond, took place Friday June 24, at Steenplein in the city of Antwerp. The vessel is named in honour of Antwerp’s leading role in the diamond industry.