For years, the maritime industry has been working hard to clean things up and minimize vessel emissions. Sustainable solutions are particularly in demand in sensitive ecosystems such as the Wadden Sea, which was declared a World Heritage Site in 2009. Dutch shipping company Doeksen is setting a good example by deploying two single-fuel, natural-gas-powered ferries in 2019, which will cut pollutant emissions by a significant margin. They will be powered by mtu's new mobile 16-cylinder single-fuel gas engines.
The view from Paul Melles' office window has evoked a lot of envy down the years with its panorama of the Wadden Sea which runs between the northern Dutch coast and the broad, sandy islands that guard it. On a good day, the island of Terschelling stretches out to the right, with its smaller counterpart, Vlieland, to the left. Halfway between them is a sandbank called Griend, which doubles up as a bird sanctuary. In front of his large picture window, the managing director of Dutch shipping company Doeksen, which operates ferry services to the two islands from its base in Harlingen, has set up a large tripod, and when he needs to take a moment out from his busy work schedule, he puts his eye to the telescope and surveys the scene laid out in front of him. “It's a great place to switch off,” says the 58-year-old. “And there's always something to see.”
Soon Melles' gaze will be resting every day on something he has been looking forward to for some time now: two new ferries the company ordered from the Strategic Marine shipyard in Vietnam back in April 2016. The company currently operates three ferries bringing both vehicles and passengers to the islands, plus two fast ferries, one catamaran for RoRo freight vehicles only, and a water taxi. The MS Midsland, one of the older ferries, is soon to be retired.
“We were looking for a new ferry concept that was both sustainable and innovative,” explains Melles, who used to be a seaman himself, later becoming Technical manager, and finally Managing Director of Doeksen in 2001. After a strategic study, those responsible decided to build two smaller catamarans instead of one large ferry, which not only makes the timetable more flexible, allowing more services to and from Terschelling, but ultimately also boosting efficiency, thereby also lowering operating cost. The study recommended single fuel LNG (liquefied natural gas) as the fuel of choice with the option of using BIO LNG or LBG (Liquified Bio Gas) in the future.