First Damen dredger to operate in Australia

By Curious

The Damen Shipyards Group is constructing a Trailing Suction Hopper Dredger (TSHD) 650 for Australian client Gippsland Ports. The TSHD will be the first Damen dredger to operate in the country. The client will use the dredger to maintain entry to the port of Lakes Entrance and the Gippsland Lakes system, in Victoria, which is used by recreational, fishing and supply vessels.

First Damen dredger to operate in Australia

Currently, the client contracts a dredger annually to carry out the necessary dredging to maintain port access. However, after analysing the situation it became clear that there was a case for investing in their own vessel. Having their own dredger will, over time, reduce the maintenance costs and ensure year-round availability, for example in the event of weather related shoaling events.

Having decided to make the investment, Gippsland Ports put the project out to tender in 2014. Following evaluation of proposals in December 2015, Damen was awarded the construction contract. The vessel is currently under construction at Damen Yichang Shipyard in China and will be delivered in Q3 2017.

“We had close contact with Gippsland Ports in order to answer all their questions and explain our designs to them,” comments Damen Sales Manager Asia Pacific Vincent Maes. “We were able to make all the adaptations the client required to the standard TSHD 650 design.”

One of the key adaptations to the design involved increasing the installed propulsion power to cope with the strong currents characteristic of the harbour’s entrance.

Another feature takes into account the environmental sensitivity of the operating area. The client specified the installation of an anti-turbidity valve on the overflow. This reduces air bubbles and, therefore, visible plumage in the water.

Capable of dredging to depths of 15 metres, this dredger will be built with self-emptying capabilities, with bottom doors for dumping and either bow connection or rainbow extraction for beach reclamation work. In order to increase the vessel’s payload capacity when dredging sand with a high specific density, Damen will reduce the freeboard of the vessel and apply a dredge mark.

Taking advantage of the numerous available options, Gippsland Ports also selected an indication package to measure soil density. This allows the suction pipe to be angled precisely for efficient operations. The dredging process will be made even more efficient by the installation of the navigational dredging aid, NavGuard, indicating the area and quantity of substrate dredged.

This particular contract further illustrates the Damen Shipyard Group’s experience with building hopper dredgers. In 2015, deliveries included a 2,500m3 hopper dredger. In addition to this particular vessel, Damen is currently busy with the construction of five further TSHDs. These include two with a 2,000m3 capacity and three with a 1,000m3 capacity. A number of these projects are being executed in cooperation with local yards as part of the Damen Technical Cooperation (DTC). With DTC, Damen can provide assistance, such as engineering, materials, technical support and training, so that Damen vessels can be built in any yard around the world.

Accompanying client representatives on a visit to Damen Yichang Shipyard, Mr Maes took the opportunity to demonstrate the yard’s excellent production quality management systems, in keeping with Damen’s quality standards applied globally. “The client was particularly impressed with Damen’s team that supplemented the yard’s own comprehensive quality management processes.”

“Gippsland Ports is very pleased to have executed a contract with Damen to build this dredger,” states Gippsland Ports CEO Nick Murray. “This is a critical investment decision for Gippsland Ports and we had quite specific criteria we needed to satisfy. We selected Damen because the TSHD 650 together with other attributes of the Damen proposal best met our requirements. We are looking forward to delivery of our new TSHD in 2017.”