Damen Launches Pilot Project for Green Shipbreaking Under EU Rules

tug dismantling
Damen is running a pilot project dismantling a 1927-built tug (Damen)

Published Apr 26, 2024 11:11 AM by The Maritime Executive


Damen Shipyards Group, best known as a designer and builder of ships, is launching a pilot project exploring the circular approach to retiring and recycling end-of-life vessels. The project will serve as a trial, after which it expects the approach of “green ship dismantling and recycling” will be made commercially available.

“This pilot project fits in perfectly with our ambitions to become the most sustainable shipbuilder in the world,” explains Arnout Damen, the CEO of Damen Shipyards Group. “The question is not just how we design, build, maintain and refit our ships, but also, and precisely, how we dismantle them at the end of their lifespan and, most importantly: recycling.”

The test project involves a small tug that will be dismantled at Damen Shiprepair Rotterdam’s Botlek site. Damen is working with a fully certified specialist in circular demolition called Bottelier Slooptechniek. The partner in the alliance is responsible for the dismantling and sorting work. At the end of the project, it will provide complete transparency about the amount of dismantled materials and how they have been reused, recycled, or disposed of following the rules.

Damen Shiprepair Rotterdam’s Botlek site is one of the few sites in the Netherlands on the EU list of certified Ship Recycling Facilities meaning all of the work will be conducted to meet the EU standards.

The tugboat, which was named Jan, was built in 1927 and was operating from Amsterdam recently. She is 50 feet (15.4 meters) in length. 

“We identify all the materials from the Jan and assess their potential for reuse,” says Nick van Egten, commercial director and co-owner of the Bottelier Group. “In that way, the maximum environmental and economic return can be generated from the materials in their residual life.”

One of the challenges facing the shipping industry is a lack of certified locations capable of undertaking this type of recycling work. Damen reports an approach has already been drafted for the commercialization and financing of circular ship dismantling projects in the future. Damen Financial Services is working in this area with Offshore Ship Recycling Rotterdam and they believe there will be an opportunity to expand the offering to larger ships.