19 Apr 2024

Ship overhaul for sustainability: sustainability for life

In focus: ✔ Damen Shiprepair & Conversion ✔ Sustainability ✔ Ship overhaul

Damen has teamed up with MEYER Group subsidiary MEYER RE to offer shipping companies solutions to maximise the life and optimise the sustainability of their vessels. With MEYER RE the two companies are offering services that cover the entire lifecycle of a ship – from development and construction, through upgrades during operation, to recycling at the end of life.

A lot of trust

The partnership, says MEYER RE Managing Director Alexander Höfling, is a natural one, the two companies sharing a lot of features in common. “For one thing, we are both family companies,” he says. “With this comes shared values and a common approach to doing business. The families know each other and there is a lot of trust there. It’s good to work with people who think the same way and have a proven way of working.

Then there’s the location. The MEYER RE headquarters in Papenburg, Germany is just three hours away from Damen’s repair yards in Rotterdam or the HQ in Gorinchem. We can easily jump in the car and meet with one another face to face.” 

The MEYER Group has been in operation for 227 years and is still led by the same family. Damen also enjoys a long history of almost 100 years and also remains under the guidance of the founding family. 

Complementary skills

The companies offer complementary skills and expertise. MEYER has extensive experience in the development and building of seagoing and river going cruise ships, which are the sectors that MEYER RE is focused on. Meanwhile, Damen Shiprepair & Conversion operates cutting-edge repair facilities in strategic locations around the world and has a substantial expert workforce.

MEYER RE was founded following the downturn in the cruise market as result of the coronavirus pandemic. MEYER realised it needed to diversify. Though the company offered their competences to the revite market previously, it launched the company at this stage. The result is a collaboration offering a number of benefits to the clients of both companies.

Before embarking on a joint venture, both Damen and MEYER reached out to their clients to see what they thought of the idea. The idea, says Alexander, was well received in the market.

As such, it should come as no surprise that it has rapidly proven a success. With a number of projects behind it in the first year of operations, MEYER RE has contracts booked to take it into the foreseeable future.

Alexander Höfling, Managing Director MEYER RE

More sustainable than ever before

One of the primary advantages is the opportunity the partnership offers for vessel operators to optimise on sustainable performance.

“The idea is not simply to lengthen a ship or put a new engine in,” states Alexander. “The goal is to extend the life and make ships more environmentally friendly than ever before. The re-engineering work we are doing and the new technology we are adding is aimed at increasing energy efficiency and reducing emissions.”

He explains that the efficiency of newbuilds coming onto the market is putting pressure on existing tonnage.

“You see this particularly in the cruise sector. During the pandemic, a lot of older vessels were taken out of service. Now, the fleet is relatively young and much cleaner, and you have tourists who would like to sail on the newest, most comfortable and cleanest vessels available.

The technology is already available – we’re incorporating it into our newbuilds. With MEYER RE we are offering people with existing vessels the chance to bring them into line with market requirements and regulations.”

Azamara: Onward to sustainability

In 2022, Damen Shiprepair Amsterdam undertook an extensive cruise ship refit for a vessel that would become the fourth in Azamara’s fleet – the Azamara Onward. The 180-metre vessel underwent a broad scope of work including accommodation refurbishment and upgrade of passenger areas.

Also, Damen restructured the ballast water and fuel tanks, creating extra space for the bunkering of additional lower emissions marine grade diesel. The yard also upgraded the thrusters to allow for use of Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants, bringing the vessel up to the high standards of Azamara.

Samuel de Champlain: A European dual-fuel milestone

Damen has for years already been working on the upgrade of vessels towards improved efficiency. In 2018, Damen Shiprepair Dunkerque carried out the conversion of the 117-metre, 8500 m3 trailing suction hopper dredger Samuel de Champlain to dual-fuel LNG and MPG, significantly lowering its emissions. The scope included the change of generators to dual-fuel modules and installation of onboard LNG storage facilities. The conversion was the first of its kind in Europe.

AIDAbella: A high quality debut for MEYER RE

The partnership quickly got a chance to prove its worth when, just one month after the agreement was concluded, the cruise ship AIDAbella had a collision while conducting a manoeuvre in the Port of Hamburg. The accident caused a crack in the vessel's hull. MEYER RE got quickly to work, with MEYER's Laser Center identifying and producing the necessary components and the company's ND Coatings team supplying the coatings. AIDAbella, meanwhile, headed to Damen Shiprepair Rotterdam for a fast, high-quality repair that got her rapidly underway again.

Maximum sustainability & uptime

The partnership’s process is an active one that ensures clients are aware of the options available to them to improve the performance of their vessels.

“When a company has a slot booked at a Damen yard, we discuss the possibilities for upgrade with them. Should they decide to go ahead with the work, we can carry it out during a scheduled service. In this way, increased sustainability goes hand-in-hand with maximal uptime.” Alexander is confident that the cooperation will be of increasing service to maritime sustainability in the future as technology continues to progress.

“It’s really exciting to see how many suppliers are really adapting to this challenge and coming up with fantastic new ideas. At the beginning, you could have been forgiven for thinking the maritime energy transition wasn’t possible, but there are so many things coming right now.”

Damen has already booked several slots for large cruise vessels for 2024 and 2025. A number of these customers have indicated their desire to upgrade their vessels with the latest emission reducing technologies, often even further than the current emission demands and deadlines. MEYER, Damen and the cruise owners are working together to develop these plans.

Damen Financial Services: three initiative supporting green retrofits

Damen Financial Services (DFS) has positioned itself at the forefront of sustainable retrofits. To support maritime decarbonisation, DFS has implemented three key initiatives. Amongst these, are supplier’s credit facilities that enable owners to upgrade vessels with Damen solutions, thus maximising the lifetime of the ship. Additionally, DFS is working with Damen Digital Solutions to develop ESG-as-a-service. This will support vessel operators with the forthcoming non-financial reporting that is aimed at reducing emissions 55% by 2030 and achieving net zero by 2050.

Thirdly, a notable stride towards transparency and market transformation comes from the development of an innovative green refit tool that clarifies emissions regulations and sustainable retrofit potential, stimulating their wider integration. Through its Green Refit Financing programme and commitment to sustainability, DFS aims to accelerate the transition towards a cleaner and more sustainable future for the maritime sector and contribute to the preservation of our planet for future generations.

Regulations: A driving force for sustainability

Regulations aimed at reducing maritime emissions are becoming increasingly stringent, providing significant challenges across the industry. There are numerous examples, including the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) and Carbon Intensity Indicator (CCI) that came into force at the beginning of 2023. These regulations require certain types and sizes of vessels to measure and collect data relating to their efficiency.

As of January 2025, FuelEU Maritime will pass into force. This aims at increasing the share of renewable and low-carbon fuels available for international maritime transport in the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA). Ships trading in the region will be required to comply with a set emissions limit (well-to-wake). Additionally, container vessels and cruise ships will need to use shore power in certain ports.

The regulations have implications, both for the newbuilding and for the refit and conversion of vessels in the coming years.

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