Damen Shipyards Group’s order book rose to a company record of 8.8 billion euros as at year-end 2021. Part of that rise was due to the acquisition of an order for no fewer than 99 vessels at the Workboats division and a record number of orders for Damen Yachting. After three loss-making years, the Netherlands’ largest shipbuilder was back in the black in 2021.
Despite the various COVID-19 measures worldwide, the negative operating result (43 million euros negative) in 2020 was transformed into an operating profit of 25 million euros last year. “2021 was a good year for us”, explained CEO Arnout Damen.
“We have delivered outstanding shipbuilding performance, for example with the complex diamond recovery vessel Benguela Gem, and we won the KVNTS Ship of the Year award for our electrically powered water buses for Copenhagen. Another great milestone in our efforts to become the world’s leading ‘green’ and ‘connected’ shipbuilder was when we built the world’s first full-electric harbour tug Sparky last year for the Port of Auckland and delivered eight ferries to three different clients in Canada, all fitted out with fully electric, hybrid or LNG propulsion systems.”
As for the outlook for 2022, the shipbuilder sees a number of uncertainties. Damen: “The crisis in Ukraine is having a major impact on our company. Not least on the 214 colleagues we had working at our Kherson and Mykolayiv sites before the invasion, with the tragic loss of one of those colleagues.
Not only do we sympathise intensely with them, we have also worked as one to ensure that hundreds of Ukrainian employees, and their families and relatives, were evacuated to safer havens at our shipyards in Galati and Gdansk, but also in Amsterdam and Vlissingen, in recent months. Emergency supplies were taken to those who stayed behind. Many colleagues around the world contributed goods and funds, and provided refuge outside Ukraine.”
The conflict in Ukraine is also having a major impact in economic terms. “Within a week after the invasion, we decided to suspend the delivery of vessels that had been ordered and the signing of new contracts with Russian and Belarusian clients.
Later, the Dutch government’s sanctions against Russia rendered those deliveries and contracts impossible. This year and next, we have been, and will be, hard at work on finding solutions for the vessels already under construction and on the associated legal procedures.”
“Despite the consequences of this worrying conflict, we look to the future with optimism and confidence,” Damen continued. “This is a view shared by our financial partners, who have recently confirmed their confidence with credit facilities for the years ahead.”
143 newbuild vessels
In total, Damen Shipyards Group completed 143 newbuild vessels in 2021. Exactly the same number as in 2020. The volume of repair and conversion orders dropped off slightly to 1,100 (2020: 1,300). The production volume did rise, from 2 billion to 2.4 billion euros. EBITDA increased from 87.5 million euros negative in 2020 to 81.5 million euros positive last year.
The increase in the order book from 8 to 8.8 billion euros underlines the good starting position for the future. The robust portfolio includes, in addition to a range of tugs, yachts, inland vessels, fishing vessels, barges and workboats, four F126 frigates for the German Navy, the Combat Support Ship Den Helder for the Dutch Royal Navy, and the training vessel Ab Initio, which was fitted out for propulsion with green hydrogen, for the STC Group from Rotterdam.