Maritime R&D won’t last without production

SWZ|Maritime’s January issue focuses on maritime R&D in the Netherlands with contributions from Nevesbu, Conoship, MARIN and Royal IHC. However, SWZ|Maritime’s Editor-in-Chief Antoon Oosting argues that to stay strong in R&D, we also need to keep our yards open.

There used to be a time, in most countries, that people and especially politicians were delighted about the establishment of a new factory as it brought at least hundreds and more often thousands of new jobs. But then it turned out that with production facilities, came a lot of pollution as well.

Politicians started to prefer “cleaner” jobs in offices. In a lot of industries, the factories disappeared like in the shipbuilding industry in Europe the yards where lost. But fortunately, a respectable number of jobs in design and management stayed. It is regrettable, however, is that we lost thousands and thousands of blue-collar jobs. And this is deplorable, as not everyone is fit to be higher educated for a white-collar job.

Keeping our know-how

And like this January edition of SWZ|Maritime shows, we in the Netherlands still have a lot of know-how and innovative knowledge that allows us to design fine ships, vessels that in a great majority of cases are built in other countries. But for how long will we be able to design ships in the Netherlands? Sea of Solutions was bought by Norwegian Ulstein, GustoMSC by the American National Oilwell Varco company and so on.

Yet, we still have a lot of purely Dutch maritime companies and organisations like Nevesbu, Conoship, MARIN and Royal IHC. Not entirely coincidental, they all have a strong R&D department that contributed to our magazine with interesting articles about their innovative and pioneering know-how. With their knowledge, they are crucial to keep up our economic growth and prosperity.

Still, we also need, at least within the EU, the production facilities that can use this know-how. If these are lacking, the European and Dutch shipbuilding R&D is risking the same scenario as our former industrial pride of a Dutch pharmaceutical multinational called Organon. This company once provided 14,000 jobs (2007), both white- and blue-collar workers (production workers in white lab coats). So to keep the R&D, we also need to keep open our yards.

Topics in the January issue include: deepsea mining, the use of advanced hydrostructural techniques in conversion projects, the role of the bulbous bow in the added resistance in waves, ship based carbon capture, offshore wind access and more. Read it online now.

Picture: With suppliers such as Ampelmann, BargeMaster and SMST (on board the Acta Centaurus in this picture), Dutch firms play an important role in the market for motion-compensated Walk-to-Work gangways in the offshore industry (SWZ|Maritime’s cover picture for January / by Flying Focus).

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.