With the contract signing for construction for the new supply ship HNLMS Den Helder (A834), more than a hundred, mainly Dutch companies receive work. The contract was signed today in Den Helder by the Director of Defence Material Organization (DMO), Vice Admiral Arie Jan de Waard and Arnout Damen, the new CEO of the family business Damen Shipyards Group.
Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (DSNS) will supervise the project, together with DMO, as the main contractor. Damen will not do this alone; more than a hundred companies from the Dutch naval construction sector are involved in this ship. This means that a large part of the sector will be deployed to participate in this innovative new ship.
With HNLMS Den Helder (A834), the maritime supply capacity of the Royal Netherlands Navy will be restored. The ship will operate alongside the Joint Support Ship HNLMS Karel Doorman (A833). This vessel also forms the basis for the design of this Combat Support Ship. The new ship can be used worldwide and can operate under high threat, protected by frigates. In addition, she can be used in the fight against drug trafficking, controlling refugee flows and providing emergency aid.
The supply ship, which is almost 200 metres/656 feet long, will receive a 75-person crew and can also take 75 extra people on board. There is room for several helicopters and around 20 containers. The design explicitly looked at fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. The combination of diesel engines, hull shape and propeller design reduce fuel consumption by around 6% compared to HNLMS Karel Doorman (A833).
The building contract is not contracted out elsewhere in Europe. DMO wishes to keep the knowledge and skills of designing and building naval ships in the Netherlands. The armed forces thus invoked Article 346 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It states that Member States may protect essential security interests. This also relates to the production of defence equipment.
Completion is scheduled for the second quarter of 2024. A year later, in the second quarter of 2025, the Combat Support Ship must be operable. The size of the total project budget is 375 million euros.
ARM Reformador project shows economic impact of local shipbuilding
Working in close cooperation, Damen Shipyards Group, the Mexican Navy, subcontractors and suppliers have completed successful sea trials of the Mexican Navy’s POLA-class ARM Reformador (POLA-101). The programme of sea trials was comprehensive, including testing of platform and combat systems in addition to training of Mexican Navy crews. The completion of these sea trials indicate how the project as a whole is progressing: on budget and actually a few weeks ahead of the contracted schedule.
The ARM Reformador (POLA-101) is the latest example of how Damen forms partnerships with navies around the world to build naval vessels in local yards. In this way, the Dutch shipbuilding company is using its considerable amount of experience and expertise to build technologically sophisticated naval vessels in Damen customers yards or in third party yards.
Local economic impact
Damen has built up a strong relationship with the Mexican Navy over the last decade. This has resulted in the construction and delivery of more than ten naval vessels of various designs. Damen has also worked closely with yards like the ASTIMAR 20 naval shipyard in Salina Cruz, Mexico, where the ARM Reformador (POLA-101) has been built.
These collaborative efforts are ensuring a significant transfer of technology and knowledge into the Mexican shipbuilding industry. For example, in order to maximise the local impact of this current project, Damen has placed contracts at local companies for supplies and assistance during the construction of the ARM Reformador (POLA-101).
«This project is having a very positive impact on the local economy. More than 70% of the labour is being realised in Mexico – creating jobs and enabling local companies to develop their skills», notes Horacio Delgado, Damen’s commercial manager for Mexico. «Thanks to our excellent cooperation with the Mexican Navy, we are ensuring that this vessel is being built in Mexico, by Mexicans, and for Mexicans».
Dutch cluster expertise
The 107-metre/351-foot long POLA-class ARM Reformador (POLA-101) is the Mexican equivalent of Damen’s SIGMA Frigate 10514. A key point here is that the ARM Reformador (POLA-101) represents Damen’s tenth time building a SIGMA Frigate. The implications of this are clear: the vessel that has been built for the Mexican Navy is a proven design that benefits from the wealth of knowledge possessed by the Dutch naval shipbuilding industry. This comprises world-renowned research institutes and a dedicated naval cluster of international specialist suppliers such as Thales.
«This shows the real value of the project», adds Frank Verhelst, POLA project director at Damen. «Combining the many benefits of local construction with the high quality of Dutch naval shipbuilding – from Damen and our network of trusted suppliers and partners».
The ARM Reformador (POLA-101) project is also a reflection of Damen’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies. The company has contributed to various local social activities and projects while working in Mexico. Damen’s support of the Mundo de Talentos in the State of Chiapas is an example of this. Mundo de Talentos (World of Talents) is the first sister school of IMC Weekend school in Latin America and introduces students of limited resources from 10-13 years old to the world of interesting professions and study choices.