Damen to build 9 ‘waterbuses’ for Rotterdam area

Damen Shipyards has signed a contract with the Dutch ferry joint venture Aqualiner-Swets for a total of 9 passenger vessels. The ferries will provide the public transportation service between Rotterdam and the Drecht cities, better known as Waterbus. The vessels will operate fully electric by 2030 at the latest.

Aqualiner-Swets will provide this service on behalf of the Province of South Holland and the Region from 2022 onwards. The company turned out to be the winner of a EU tendered contract of maximum 15 years.

Hybrid, carbon and fully electric

Damen will deliver a total of 9 vessels, of which 6 are hybrid and carbon fibre Waterbuses to serve the fast ferry Intercity routes primarily between Sliedrecht, Dordrecht, Rotterdam and the World Heritage site Kinderdijk. Damen and the new operators have incorporated into the design the possibility to convert these vessels to full electric propulsion, by 2030 at the latest.

The remaining 3 vessels, the City Ferries, will be fully electric from the start of service in 2022 and will provide a service in the city area of Dordrecht, Papendrecht and Zwijndrecht.

Damen has developed the vessels to fulfil the green ambitions of Aqualiner-Swets, the regional minister of transport and all the local governments. All ferry services will be completely emissions free by 2030. All 9 of the Waterbuses are therefore extremely efficient in terms of weight, hull design and systems, featuring a hybrid-electric arrangement for peak shaving.

Sustainability is an important theme to be found running throughout the overall vessel design. For instance, Damen has developed the vessels’ interiors to be completely circular, using natural materials such as wool and wood, as well as recycled materials.

Reduced wake wash

Together with the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN), Damen performed a parametric study and hull optimisation, to improve the performance on the low wash catamarans. This is aimed at reducing the wake wash produced by the vessels, so as not to cause disruption to those living and working on the water in the area of operation.

‘Our work on this project is a good demonstration of Damen’s role, not only as a shipbuilder, but as a provider of comprehensive maritime solutions,’ says Vincent Maes, Sales Manager Benelux. ‘What makes it special is our close cooperation with the team of Aqualiner-Swets. Together we have considered every aspect of the operation, looking at vessel types, routes and speeds for maximum fuel efficiency and considering methods to improve the passenger experience. The collaboration has been excellent so far and we are looking forward to continuing it during construction and beyond.’

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

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