Damen is no stranger to pushing back the boundaries of engineering, but even by Damen’s pioneering standards this extraordinary new vessel – the Damen ThreeSixty – will make heads turn.
In the spirit of disruptive innovation, Damen decided to take a fresh look at the ferry sector, particularly sightseeing boats, which is largely known as one of the most traditional arenas in the maritime industry.
Most people have had that holiday experience of sitting on a crowded vessel, craning to look left and right hoping to get a glimpse of the view; hoping they have chosen the right side to sit on, hoping there is not a 2-metre tall Dutchman sat nearest the small, misted-up window…
Out of the box into the perfect circle
In an hour-long, standing-only meeting, the Damen Ferries team asked the question: “What sightseeing experience would they like to have?” The answer was simple: everyone wanted the best view possible and the best way of making sure of this was by developing a circular vessel, with huge floor-to-ceiling windows. Not only will this give the ultimate, scenic view, it could also provide a revolutionary tourist attraction for any city, port, estuary or lake.
Henk Grunstra, product director Ferries comments: “Sightseeing boats that look like ferries have been the ‘norm’ for decades. We want passengers to have a different, improved visitor experience with the optimum view outside, with windows all the way around.” Rather than sail in only one direction, the concept is that the Damen ThreeSixty will sail along a predefined course and will rotate at certain points so the view is constantly changing. “This will be a totally different experience for passengers. The concept could open up a new market for tour operators, as the vessel really adds value in terms of customer experience.”
Entirely different passenger experience
As well as sightseeing, Damen believes the new vessel, which is being patented, is suitable for business meetings, conferences, seminars, networking events and parties, or it could be used as a stylish and unique floating restaurant or nightclub.
The past year the R&D department and Ferries team have been investigating the concept and the ThreeSixty’s dynamic behaviour. “It is important that the dimensions fit the wave pattern of the local area,” Henk stresses.
Currently, three sizes are available – 16, 18 and 20 metres, with a passenger capacity of up to 400 people. The ThreeSixty is a highly manoeuvrable vessel. “Once on location, it performs a ‘water ballet’.” Comprising a ‘flat-bottomed disc’ shape, the vessel has a fore and aft.
Fully-electric & intelligent control
Changes in technology have led to this revolutionary new concept being launched in 2019, explains Henk. The Damen ThreeSixty is a fully-electric vessel, offering the potential for emission free sailing. Lithium batteries power the four azimuth thrusters via a DC-bus distribution network. The electrically-driven rudder propulsion can be controlled by an autopilot system. This intelligent control system, in combination with the four-thruster setup, enables the vessel to rotate or sail a straight course by an easy to use, single joystick control in the wheelhouse. “Given the rotation capability and distance it will travel, it would almost be impossible for a captain to manoeuvre the vessel manually,” adds Henk.
Once at its docking station, the vessel will automatically click into place and the battery charging will start. For comfortable climate control the vessel is equipped with a heat pump and air-conditioning system. The interior design can be tailored entirely to the clients’ requirements.
The vessel’s silent, vibration-free operation ensures that the ThreeSixty is the perfect, neighbour-friendly vessel, even in built up urban areas. The vessel has been developed in accordance with Damen’s E3 initiative, ensuring environmental friendliness, efficiency in operation and economic viability. Henk emphasises: “Damen is famous for being a superb builder of our standardised vessels, but we also want to focus on new products in attractive growing markets so we can continue to be a fast mover. We want to show the world we are able and capable of developing vessels of any type. Vessels that make a difference!”
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