Serco takes delivery of 27th Damen vessel

by Hans | September 9th, 2010

Serco took delivery of its 27th Damen vessel in the Port of Amsterdam as a huge three-year contract for 29 vessels nears completion.

In 2007, Serco placed the multi-vessel order with the Damen Shipyards Gorinchem to enable the international services to support the British Royal Navy at its bases in Portsmouth, Devonport and the Clyde.

The huge order included pilot boats, supply boats, tugboats, high-speed craft and barges. All of the vessels are specifically built for the naval contract.

The very latest delivery, the SD Christina, is the third of four sister ASD tugs. In keeping with naval tradition, these four smaller tugboats are given girls names.

Amid colourful bunting and glasses of champagne, the SD Christina was officially launched by Christina Ross, the wife of Iain Ross, the former technical director of Serco Marine Services.

 Once the Serco and Damen flags were raised, SD Christina took her first journey around the Dutch port and the next day she set sail for her Portsmouth home base.

Tailor-made for Royal Navy contract

The gleaming SD Christina will be swiftly followed by the fourth in the series, the SD Deborah, in December. This delivery will mark the conclusion of the huge order. Serco operates and owns 110 vessels over the three naval ports under a 15-year contract.

Casper Vermeulen, Damen Sales Manager Europe, says the Dutch shipbuilding group had tailor-made the latest tugboat to perfectly suit the naval contract.

SD Christina, at 20 m with a 9 m beam, (hence the Damen type ASD Tug 2009), is designed to be a highly manoeuvrable vessel in a relatively small operating area and at slow speeds.

 The ASD Tug 2009 is the smallest ASD tug built by Damen and even though it is small it is capable of assisting both surface vessels and submarines. Built in Damen Shipyard Gdynia, the vessel took around a year to build.

 With a Bollard Pull of 24 tonnes, the tug has two Rolls Royce US 155CP fully steerable propulsion units and the vessel is fitted with a bow thruster. Thrusters of this type, in combination with controllable pitch propellers, make the SD Christina highly manoeuvrable during all towing and pushing operations, says Mr Vermeulen.

Two Caterpillar 3508B diesel main engines generate 2,000bhp. The tugboat has a speed of 11.5 knots and can transport up to 12 passengers and cargo. The four sister tugs can also transfer fresh water and provide fire fighting and water spraying facilities.

Other details include special grey fendering rather than the traditional black and the tug is fitted with underwater fendering for when she has to work alongside submarines.

“Every vessel on time and on budget”

Emily Williams, Programme Manager of SD Marine Services, the procurement company of the British Ministry of Defence under this Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract, comments: “We gave Damen a very tight three-year deadline. Damen has been a fantastic partner, every vessel has been delivered on time and on budget. This really has been a very fast build programme but Damen has been great.

“Originally Serco put a worldwide tender out for this order. We looked at a number of different parties but only Damen could give us the flexibility concerning all of the different vessels because each one needed to be altered to suit our requirements.”

Damen really is the Rolls-Royce in shipbuilding and has a very good reputation with the Ministry of Defence, she adds.

“Not every yard can do this type of work and has this level of competence. It was clear from the very start and the design reviews that we could work well together.”

As the project draws to an end, she says that the company is relieved to have chosen Damen. “Damen has always been very receptive to any changes we wanted to make and has helped us achieve our requirements. Every effort is put in, right down to the last detail. Damen appreciates that you are the customer.”

Even with all the naming ceremonies, Damen has been really accommodating making the crews and their partners feel very welcome, adds Ms Williams. “Perhaps it is because Damen is a family owned company but it really is like a big family with everyone made to feel part of the project.

“It has been a pleasure working with Damen and there is no question where we would go in the future if we need more newbuildings.”

Damen Trading (www.damentrading.nl) has also proved particularly helpful, she adds. “These 29 vessels are being used to replace older tonnage so the ability to sell our old vessels through Damen Trading served to cement the relationship.”

Damen Press Release

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