On Friday, the first day of the World Port Days in Rotterdam, STC’s new training ship Ab Initio was christened in Rotterdam. The ship, built by Concordia Damen in Werkendam, will play an important role in STC’s maritime education programmes and is equipped with the technologies of the future.
STC’s inland shipping courses train young people as seafarers, skippers or skipper/entrepreneurs. Part of the students can gain practical experience on the ship while the other half receive theory lessons on board. Students from the intermediate vocational education for inland navigation gain experience on board with various propulsion options, both in operation and maintenance. They also cook and clean together on board, just like on a “normal” inland vessel.
Hydrogen fuel cell and solar panels
The christening ceremony was performed by Caroline Nagtegaal-van Doorn, transport specialist and member of the European Parliament for Dutch political party VVD. ‘A wonderful day,’ said Jan Kweekel, member of the Executive Board at STC. ‘With over 8000 vessels, the Netherlands has the largest inland shipping fleet in Europe. Certainly with a view to making transport more sustainable, it is essential that we continue to invest in transport by water. And therefore also in the men and women who work on it.’
Sustainability therefore played a major role in the design and construction of the 67-metre ship. Chris Kornet, managing director Concordia Damen: ‘Recyclable materials were used and the Ab Initio is equipped with a hybrid propulsion system. Not just via a modern Stage V diesel engine, but also electrically and on hydrogen via a fuel cell. The ship can even generate part of its own energy through 200 square metres of solar panels. The generators are easy to change, which makes the Ab Initio suitable for future fuels and therefore future-proof.’
The Ab Initio – which means ‘from the beginning’ – replaces the Prinses Beatrix and Prinses Christina training ships from the 1960s and also represents a giant step forward in terms of safety and comfort. Naturally, the Ab Initio is fully equipped for sailing with men and women. There are 39 sleeping places on board.
The ship will also be used to introduce students from vulnerable Rotterdam neighbourhoods to the sector and to enthuse them about a maritime future.
Collaboration and support
The Ab Initio has become a product of cooperation and support from the entire maritime sector. The initiative was taken by STC. Thanks to sponsorships from the municipality, Stichting De Verre Bergen and the business community – including the builder Concordia Damen – an ultramodern ship was built that effectively prepares pupils and students for a future in inland shipping.
The hull was built in Serbia in cooperation with Gebroeders De Jonge Shipbuilding Services. Via the Danube, Rhine, Waal and Merwede, it was pushed to the yard of Concordia Damen in Werkendam, where it was finished in cooperation with CCM3. On 25 August, the ship was delivered and handed over to STC.
STC provides education for the shipping, transport and port industry. STC Group is internationally active and has branches in the Netherlands and abroad. The head office is located in mainport Rotterdam. The Ab Initio plays an important role in the education of pre-vocational secondary education (Dutch vmbo level) students and intermediate (Dutch mbo level) and higher vocational education students (Dutch hbo level) who are following a maritime education programme at STC Group.
Picture by Mees Borst.