22 Feb 2024

Damen Technical Cooperation – built in your country, for your country, by your domestic yards

When it comes to Damen Shipyard’s commitment to being customer-centric, one if its most prominent aspects is Damen’s Technical Cooperation

Rick van de Weg

When it comes to Damen Shipyard’s commitment to being customer-centric, one if its most prominent aspects is Damen’s Technical Cooperation (DTC) programme. In operation now for over 45 years, it has worked with shipyards around the world, giving them the assistance they need to build Damen vessels to Damen standards. In that time, over 1500 vessels have been built in more than 60 countries.

Almost any vessel in the Damen range can be built this way, with Damen providing training, construction support and even shipyard upgrades if required. This highly flexible service often results in valuable technology transfers and allows countries to gain Damen vessels while reaping the benefits of local sourcing and production. The programme has facilitated the third-party production of Frigates, Combat Support Ships, Offshore Patrol Vessels, Fast Crew Suppliers, Landing Craft, a Combat Support Ship and a Sail Training Vessel, along with tugs and other support vessels.

Major projects

Significant naval ships built under the DTC programme include three guided-missile corvettes for the Indonesian Navy. These were based on Damen’s SIGMA 9113 design and designated Diponegoro-class corvettes. The first, KRI Diponegoro, was delivered in January 2007 with the remaining two commissioned by the end of 2008.

In 2020, the Mexican Navy took delivery of the ARM Reformador (Reformer), the first of a domestically-built version of the Damen SIGMA 10514, designated the POLA class. 107 metres in length and with a beam of 14 metres, it was already a proven ship in service with a number of navies. The vessel was built using modular construction techniques, with six modules accounting for the entire structure.

Four of these were built in Mexico and two at Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding in the Netherlands. These last two were then transported to Mexico’s ASTIMAR 20 naval shipyard for the final integration under Damen supervision. With Damen transferring the necessary skills and technology, the Mexican shipyard will in future be able to undertake the entire build process itself.

Previously, Damen and the Mexican Navy had together built 10 Tenochtitlan class patrol vessels, based on the Damen Stan Patrol 4207, and a logistic supply vessel of the Isla María Madre class, derived from the Damen Fast Crew Supplier 5009 design. These projects provided a significant transfer of technology to the Mexican shipyards involved and laid the groundwork for the much larger and more complex POLA project.

Other bespoke naval vessels built in third-party yards include a submersible barge in Qatar and two 66-metre Hydrographic Survey Vessels, in Thailand and Vietnam respectively.

A worldwide service

Between 2013 and 2023, DTC projects were completed in 43 countries. Notable clients include Bollinger Shipyards in the USA, which has built more than 40 Sentinel Class patrol boats over the past ten years. These are based on the Damen Stan Patrol 4708 design with modifications to meet their particular needs and are built using predominantly local content.

Other customers include customs & revenue authorities, coast guards, critical infrastructure & coastal protection authorities, and defence forces. Each client received the level of support that they required, varying from just acquiring licenses and vessel plans, right up to buying complete vessel kits ready for assembly together with training, transfers of technology and yard upgrades.

Why Damen?

Over the past two decades, Damen has delivered nearly 3000 vessels, demonstrating its industry-leading position. The company's portfolio is unmatched in the industry with its extensive portfolio including workboats of all types serving ports and harbours and the offshore energy sector. Its ferries and freighters can be found all over the world, and it also designs and builds highly specialist vessels for commercial and governmental applications.

Damen's defence and security portfolio is comprehensive. As well at designing and building front line combatants it also has a range of Standard Patrol vessels ranging in size from 16 to 62 metres for in and near-shore operations. Its Offshore Patrol Vessels, from 83 to 98 metres, can be customised to meet any requirement. Damen also builds custom naval vessels to meet any need, including air defence frigates, submarine support ships and combat support ships.

The group has also designed and built some of the most complex vessels currently afloat. In addition to its naval projects, recent deliveries have included the ASRV (Antarctic Supply Research Vessel) Nuyina, delivered to the Australian Government in 2021. At 160 metres in length, it is the most sophisticated vessel of its kind in the world today. The following year, the world's most advanced diamond recovery vessel, the 177-metre Benguela Gem, was unveiled in Namibia. This vessel was a joint venture between De Beers and the Government of Namibia.

Damen's production techniques are supported by a set of strategic initiatives across the group. These include a firm commitment to its core values of stewardship, craftsmanship, fellowship and entrepreneurship, which in turn underpin its goal of delivering sustainability, digitalisation, operational excellence and a customer-centric approach. With these, Damen maintains a clear focus on both the present and the future as well as the needs of its customers.

The success of Damen Shipyards Group over the years has been based on a variety of factors, including its global outlook. As much of the world's shipbuilding industry shifted from western countries to the Asian continent, Damen was among the first to recognise that it could continue to thrive by establishing a worldwide footprint. This strategy not only allows it to benefit from cost efficiencies, it also enables it to develop enduring relationships with its customers by investing in local facilities and partnerships.