Drawing on a rich tradition
Romanians have built ships at Galati for centuries. With more than 1,300 vessels built in the 125 years since its beginning, the shipbuilders from Galaţi can justifiably celebrate their rich heritage derived from the deep professionalism of their craft and their dedication to detail.
Originally formed in 1893 as a small foundry and repair workshop under the name G. Fernic et Comp and extended in 1897 with the addition of a shipyard, the company grew to become an important part of the country’s shipbuilding industry through 125 years of geopolitical upheaval. In 1907, four river monitors were commissioned for the Romanian Navy and assembled in Galaţi. The first new build, a ferry of 80-100 tons, was delivered in 1912. Up to and during the Second World War, it was the most important Romanian shipyard, followed by another at Constanța and finally those at Severin and Brăila. With its strategic significance for the region during this time, Galaţi shipyard built two submarines and one minelayer / convoy escort vessel. The minelayer / convoy escort vessel NMS Amiral Murgescu was the first sea-going warship to be built in Romania and the largest and most modern warship of the Royal Romanian Navy at that time. She was designed by NV Ingenieurskantoor voor Scheepsbouw in The Hague, the Netherlands, and so the collaboration between the Romanian and Dutch shipbuilding industries began. NMS Amiral Murgescu successfully participated in all the mining missions and, thanks to her anti-aircraft armament, fought the Soviet air force during numerous convoy escort missions in the Black Sea. By 1944, eight more warships; four minesweepers and four motor torpedo boats, had been constructed in Galaţi.
By the end of 1970, Galaţi Shipyard had built hundreds of vessels including barges, tankers, cargo vessels, bulk carriers, tugs and fishing vessels. After 1975, the shipyard undertook some of the most technologically-advanced projects possible at the time, including building seven drilling rig platforms which are still in operation.
Today, the yard’s transformation is evident. Occupying a 55-hectare site, Damen Shipyards Galaţi resembles a small city and has a workforce of nearly 2,500 plus up to 1,500 subcontractors’ staff, including 150 engineers from Marine Engineering Galati, the naval architecture company that is also part of the Damen Group.
Cooperation with Damen Shipyards Group – by then already well established in the Netherlands and starting to develop its international business – started in 1994 with the subcontracting of cargo vessel hull fabrication. In 1999, Damen acquired the yard and introduced its standardised shipbuilding approach. This involved inviting its trusted industry partners to help expand the yard’s outfitting capacity. As a result, many Dutch businesses established their own branches in Galaţi, underpinning the local supplier cluster as well as strengthening the ties between the Romanian and Dutch shipbuilding industries.
To date, the yard has delivered some 1,300 vessels, more than 400 of which have been built by the Romanian-Dutch shipbuilding cluster of Galaţi since 1999 for customers from 70 countries including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Sweden and the United Kingdom, making the shipyard in Galaţi the biggest Romanian exporter of vessels.