Allseas Group has decided to rename Pieter Schelte, the world’s largest platform installation, decommissioning and pipelay vessel, as a result of protests from groups concerned about the name’s Nazi connection.
The vessel was named after Allseas’ owner Edward Heerema’s father who served as a Waffen SS officer in the Second World War. He was subsequently imprisoned for one and a half years for war crimes. The initial sentence of three years was cut short, however, as he reportedly left the SS in 1944 when he lost sympathy with the Nazis and joined a resistance party.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was one of many organizations to condemn the name. ADL urged the company to rename the ship “in the interest of plain decency”.
“Honoring such a man glorifies the absolute evil of the Nazi quest for world domination, and defiles the memory of the millions of Jews and others victims who were systematically exterminated by the Nazis, as well as those who valiantly fought and sacrificed their lives in the name of democracy to defeat Hitler,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “Such naming offends not only Holocaust survivors and the Jewish community, but all who reject the anti-Semitic, totalitarian ideology of the Nazi regime.”
Edward Heerema has explained the reasons for naming the vessel after his father in a statement to media:
“After a career as a civil contractor in Venezuela since 1947, Pieter Schelte Heerema, born in 1908, moved to The Netherlands and entered the North Sea with a crane ship for oil platform installation. He developed his company further until his death in 1981. By that time he had built several technically innovative crane vessels and became known as the pioneer of the offshore construction industry, making the installation of large platforms in the rough North Sea possible. He installed the majority of all large offshore platforms in that area. He was widely respected by the oil companies.
“The technical creativity and entrepreneurship of Pieter Schelte Heerema were an example for his son Edward (born 1947) from the time he was a child up to the eight years that he worked for his father in the Heerema company. This example laid the foundation for Allseas, the company which Edward formed in 1985, three years after his father’s death. The building of the single-lift ship Pieter Schelte marks a technical breakthrough in installation and clean and safe removal of oil platforms world-wide.
“It is precisely Edward’s acknowledgement of his father’s creativity and entrepreneurship that led to the choice of the name of the ship, already in 1987. As the son, engineer and entrepreneur, Edward builds on the foundations that his father laid, and which made him the engineer he is today. The wartime past of Pieter Schelte Heerema remains difficult and painful for his family and for many others. Edward has expressly disassociated himself from his father’s sympathies in the Second World War. The naming of the vessel reflects what the late Pieter Schelte Heerema has accomplished in the field of construction, which has been of great significance to the development of offshore oil and gas production until the present day. Edward Heerema, February 2nd, 2015.”
After widespread reaction, however, the company has issued a further statement saying it will change the name, as it has never been the company’s intention to offend anyone.
The 382m (1,253ft) vessel will be used to dismantle Shell’s Brent Delta platform.