Yesterday, November 7th, at the Europort 2017 exhibition in Rotterdam, Damen Shipyards Group and Belgian ferry operator Aqualiner signed a contract for the delivery of three additional Damen Waterbus 2407 vessels, for operations on the Scheldt in Antwerp. Present at the signing were Gerbrand Schutten (CEO Aqualiner), Maurice Swets (CEO Aqualiner), Dimitri Romijn (CFO Aqualiner), Arnout Damen (CCO Damen) and Jelle Meindertsma (Sales Manager Damen). The Waterbus 2407 is a new composite design from Damen, first unveiled just over a year ago. Lightweight, low maintenance and fuel efficient, it can carry up to 100 passengers at speeds up to 21 knots.
Aqualiner is contracted by the Port of Antwerp to provide water-based public transport services in the Belgian city of Antwerp.This latest investment is part of a wider transportation programme to improve the city’s infrastructure and reduce pressure on its roads. Aqualiner took delivery of its first Waterbus 2407 from Damen at the end of June this year following a tender process that culminated in the two organisations signing an agreement covering a total of four vessels. One of the factors in Damen’s favour was its policy of building for stock, enabling it to deliver an initial vessel almost immediately.
Christened the Aqua Diamond, the ferry is currently operating a service that connects the centre of Antwerp with the southern part of the city. It has been its success that has led to Aqualiner formally confirming the order yesterday. The three additional vessels will enable Aqualiner to expand that service to the north. When all four waterbuses are in operation, both services will be able to offer departures every half hour.
The Aqua Diamond was built at Damen Shipyards Antalya, as will the three new additions. The Antalya yard specialises in composite vessels and builds a wide range of fast boats using the latest vacuum infusion techniques. All three ferries are scheduled for delivery next year, with the possibility of further orders coming thereafter.
Gerbrand Schutten, Director of Aqualiner, commented: “Damen has a good reputation in fast ferries, and over the last six months, our new Waterbus 2407 has proved to be a reliable vessel. As a ferry service operating tight timetables, we are dependent on reliable technology and designs that are both attractive to our customers and efficient to operate. These new vessels will achieve both those goals. The cooperation with Damen Shipyards Antalya has also been very good.”
Jelle Meindertsma, Sales Manager Benelux for Damen, added: “We are proud of this new design and gratified by the confidence that Aqualiner has shown in us. We are confident that their new fleet of Waterbus 2407 fast ferries will delight their customers and play a significant role in helping the Port of Antwerp develop its integrated transport network.”
Damen and Aqualiner have worked together in the past. Aqualiner was founded in 1999 in Amsterdam and its first vessel was a Damen River Runner 150. Since then its fleet has grown greatly and today includes eight Damen ferries, all operating in the Rotterdam area.