Damen holds keel-laying ceremony for WSA Koblenz’s new diving bell ship

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October 25, 2019

The keel-laying ceremony has been held at Europoort Construction in Hendrik Ido Ambacht for the diving bell vessel ordered by Customer FMSW Koblenz from Damen in January this year. The operator is the Duisburg waterway and shipping authority WSA (Wasserstrassen- und Schifffahrtsamt). Following the fabrication of the hull, Damen will move the vessel to Damen Shipyards Gorinchem for the remainder of the build, outfitting and commissioning process. The vessel will be virtually unique, making the project a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all involved.

The ceremony also signifies the completion of the design and engineering phase. This included the optimisation of the performance of the vessel in close cooperation with the client, with its knowledge of the operational challenges that the vessel will encounter based on its previous experience, and the key suppliers. The result is a final design that satisfies all parties involved.

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Operating on the Rhine and its tributaries, it will replace the Carl Straat, which was built over 50 years ago, continuing its function of hosting the modern equivalent of a diving bell that allows workers to operate in dry conditions below water level in a pressurised atmosphere. The 21st century diving bell system with its lifting system allows the vessel to carry out its duties without the need to lower the water level of the rivers on which it operates.

Those duties will primarily be to search for and recover lost cargo and wreckage, inspect underwater structures and support works on the riverbed. The new vessel will also be used to deploy barrel anchors in gravel and rocky areas and to extract soil samples from the riverbed by using liquid nitrogen to stabilise loose material.

While retaining much of the diving bell expertise developed on the Carl Straat, the 69-metre ship will be fitted with the latest technology to ensure maximum efficiency and suitability. Systems will include high-performance, diesel-electric propulsion compliant with EU stage V standards. Haux is the main supplier of the all-important diving equipment. The co-operation with them has been very constructive and, as the system integrator, Damen is confident that every aspect of the vessel’s performance will meet if not exceed the expectations of her owner and crew.

“The cooperation between WSV and Damen Shipyards has been very constructive so far,” said Gerald Rose, project manager from FMSW Koblenz. “We look forward to this continuing and resulting in a successful build and smooth delivery.”

Europoort Construction has been contracted to build and deliver the hull in close cooperation with Damen Shipyards. Damen’s piping department will execute the main piping works during the block building stage at the company’s premises. With its proven track record in the offshore industry, Damen is confident that Europoort Construction will meet its high expectations for the project.

Delivery of the vessel is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2020.