7 Jun 2019

Thinking big at Damen Shipyards Mangalia

In focus: ✔ Damen Shipyards Mangalia ✔ Damen Song Cam Shipyard ✔ Damen Shipyards Gorinchem ✔ Marine Aggregate Dredger ✔ Damen Verolme Rotterdam ✔ CEMEX

Ben Littler

Сovering a vast 100-hectare site on Romania’s South-Eastern coast, Damen Shipyards Mangalia (DSMa) is by far the largest yard in the Damen Shipyards Group. It is also the largest yard on the black sea and in the East Mediterranean, its facilities including three graving drydocks ranging from 302 by 48 metres to 360 by 60 metres, and 1,550 metres of quayside. 

“We have perfect infrastructure, facilities and resources,” says DSMa Managing Director Chris Groninger. “We’re currently very busy showing the world what we can do, and we’re already firmly on the map. When client delegations come to look around our site – which these days is increasingly often – they’re always impressed. If they’re considering spending a large amount for their vessel they want to be sure of everything and their visits here fill them with confidence.”

Huge capacity and capabilities

Situated in a non-tidal port, DSMa has at its core three drydocks with a total length of 982 metres. These are well served by cranes – one 1,000 tonne and two 480 tonne gantry cranes and nine other jib cranes of 16-20 tonnes – together with heavy transporters, able to transport superblocks of up to 800 tonnes. Nearby are areas for storing and cutting steel of varying thicknesses, two huge halls for section building, each including a panel line, modern, covered blasting and painting facilities, complying with the latest environmental requirements, and dedicated workshops for mechanical works, steel outfitting and piping. Moreover, the yard has its own galvanising shop. At the moment, DSMa is investing in further optimising its facilities for final outfitting, such as electrical, carpentry, heating, ventilation and air conditioning work.

Damen expands in Romania

The yard that is now DSMa opened in the mid-70s. Between 1976 and 1997 the yard, which was then called 2 Mai Mangalia Shipyard, built and repaired a wide range of vessels. With Romania changing into a market economy, in 1997 Daewoo from Korea, in a joint venture with the Romanian Government, took control of the yard, which was renamed Daewoo Mangalia Heavy Industries (DMHI). The yard subsequently expanded its facilities and focussed completely on the newbuilding of large commercial vessels. Between 1997 and 2017, DMHI delivered over 200 vessels, ranging from Handysize to Capesize bulkers, from feeders to Post-Panamax container vessels and from smaller chemical tankers to Suezmax crude oil tankers.

After a long negotiation process, Damen finally completed the acquisition of the shareholdings of the yard from Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering in July 2018. Damen now has operational control of DSMa, in a joint venture with the government, which holds 51% of the shares.

Damen’s first venture in Romania was Damen Shipyards Galati (DSGa), which joined the group in 1999. Situated in the east of the country, 230 kilometres north of Mangalia and on the banks of the River Danube, DSGa is fully owned and operated by Damen. DSGa is another large site, covering 55 hectares, has a workforce of 2,500 and builds a wide variety of complex vessels.

New focus

With Damen at the helm, the yard plans to continue its current repair activities. The yard traditionally services the Greek fleet, not only with regular repair and maintenance jobs, but also with refits like scrubber retrofitting, DSMa will focus on the construction of cruise, large RoRo/RoPax ferries and offshore vessels. The intention is to provide all services on site, including production engineering, procurement, steel processing, outfitting and commissioning.

In addition and as elsewhere in the Damen Shipyards Group, there is great scope for newbuild and refit projects aimed at complying with stricter maritime emissions regulations.

Moreover, DSMa will also focus on the construction of offshore structures, both for the oil & gas industry developing in the Black Sea and especially for the offshore wind industry in Western Europe. These structures include jackets, monopiles, all kinds of subsea structures and big floaters for the offshore wind industry. Chris says, “DSMa’s large drydocks and outstanding facilities and workforce enable us to build, maintain, repair, refit and convert larger, more complex and higher-end vessels and structures. We’re currently investing in and optimising the shipyard to seize all our new opportunities, particularly for bespoke, high added value projects.”

Before heading up DSMa, Mr Groninger was managing director of Damen Song Cam Shipyard in Haiphong, Vietnam, and before that, financial director at Damen Shipyards Gorinchem. Mr Groninger says,

"In contrast to many Damen locations – including Damen Song Cam – where standard vessels are the norm, we will build one-offs at DSMa. These will be highly complex vessels, with concurrent engineering and production activities."

Sustainable business

As with other Damen shipyards, DSMa is committed to minimising its ecological impact and has ISO 14001:2015 environmental management certification. This is complemented by its ISO 9001:2015 quality management and OHSAS 18001:2007 occupational health and safety certification, and all are based on processes of employee involvement and continual improvement.

"We are making our business more sustainable by investing and expanding into new activities,"
says Mr Groninger.

“Tourism and our shipyard are the two main economic drivers in Mangalia, so it’s important we succeed and thrive long term. We employ 1,850 people, we want to recruit a further 500 to 1,000 in the next year, and we could end up with between 3,000 and 5,000 employees. In a town of 40,000, we’re very much at the heart of the community.”

To help meet its recruitment targets, DSMa is increasing cooperation with vocational colleges in Mangalia and across Romania. The company operates an on-site training centre and provides dormitory accommodation if needed by trainees and employees.

European markets

DSMa is already benefiting from Damen’s global sales network and reputation for efficiency and quality. Current projects include the construction of the hull of the CEMEX Go Innovation, the first of Damen’s new design of Marine Aggregate Dredgers. Recently DSMa produced 1,400 tonnes of steel assemblies for the drilling rig Stena Don, which was refitted at Damen Verolme in Rotterdam.

“We’re particularly well placed to serve clients in Europe,” says Mr Groninger. “We offer competitive costs, quality, reliability and flexibility – and we use European steel. In fact our steelwork can be tracked and traced in both directions to the steel mill and to the individual welder. Whatever the vessel or structure involved, and whatever the client’s specific requirements, we can do everything here.”