On 31 March, the construction of the first Damen Service Operations Vessel progressed a step further with the official keel laying ceremony of the Bibby WaveMaster 1 taking place at Damen’s yard in Romania. Continuing on from the first steel cutting in February, the initial stages of vessel fabrication are on schedule.
“We are dealing with a relatively short construction period of 14 months,” states Damen Senior Project Manager René Hooijman. “So, to make the process as efficient as possible, we have divided the production into seven phases. We are right on schedule with phase 1 which involves ten mid-ship sections. In terms of engineering, this strategy is the most efficient. For example, the aft sections require a lot of engineering and equipment so they will be constructed at a later date.”
Further increasing the efficiency of the process, Damen is using a ‘parallel building’ strategy: “We are putting together the fore and aft sections into big blocks separately. Once complete, we will bring them outside and weld them together.”
With the steel already cut for phase 2 and preparations being made for phase 3, personnel at Damen Shipyards Galati are staying one step ahead. “The team here are very experienced with building such complex one-off or first-of-series vessels. You can see this not only in the speed at which they work, but also the adaptability of the work procedures.”
Customary with most of Damen’s vessel construction projects is the company’s respect and appreciation regarding client input. The Bibby WaveMaster 1 is no different, says Mr Hooijman: “Bibby Marine Services has a 3-man team at the yard. We have a very smooth and pleasant cooperation with them.”
A keel laying ceremony is naturally also a special moment for the future owner of the vessel concerned. Bibby Marine Services CEO Stephen Blaikie is rightly enthusiastic at the prospect of the ongoing construction of the Bibby WaveMaster1:
“We believe in this market, we believe in the vessel and we believe in our own capabilities to satisfy the demands of the customer,” he says. “The proof of this is that we have ordered this vessel on a speculative basis – we haven't ordered it against a contract. I think that this is a sign of our confidence both in the vessel and the market sector.”
“It was nice to see the two company heads – Sir Michael Bibby and Kommer Damen – at the contract signing ceremony,” continues Mr Blaikie. “Now we are looking forward to continuing working with Damen on this vessel and hopefully on other vessels in the future. Bibby’s aspirations are not to be a one-vessel company in this market.”