Royal IHC and Boskalis have signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) for the construction of a 31,000 m3 trailing suction hopper dredger (TSHD). It is precisely the type of order IHC has been waiting for after its restructuring. It also allows the shipbuilder to reopen its Krimpen aan den IJssel yard as the vessel will be built there.

IHC has been struggling for several years now. In April 2020, the shipyard had to be rescued from bankruptcy by the Dutch government, banks and a group of companies, including HAL, with bridging loans and credit guarantees amounting to hundreds of millions of euros.

This was followed by a major restructuring in November 2020, with major job cuts and divestments of for example engineering companies Vuyk and KCI, IHC Hitech, and the company’s tunnelling business. At the beginning of October 2022 another restructuring round was announced due to a lack of new large shipbuilding and ship repair orders. This resulted in 251 jobs being cut and the yard in Krimpen aan den IJssel to be temporarily closed down.

Finally, in March of this year, IHC had to resort to the court (and won) to get all its moneylenders on board for a refinancing plan, which included the sale of subsidiary and moneymaker IQIP to HAL Investments. In March, IQIP was sold to reduce the company’s debt load and pave the way for new, large and complex shipbuilding orders, which CEO Jan-Pieter Klaver said would be crucial to IHC’s survival.

Also read: Shipbuilder Royal IHC sells IQIP to HAL

Customised vessel order in sight

With the LoI with Boskalis, such an order is now in sight. The customised vessel will be built at the Royal IHC yard in Krimpen aan den IJssel and is expected to be delivered to Boskalis in mid-2026.

Klaver says: ‘For some time now, we have seen an increasing demand in the dredging market. However, we have noticed this particularly in the flow business, which consists of orders for smaller working vessels and equipment. With the order for this large custom-built vessel, we are continuing to build a healthy future for Royal IHC. The fact that Boskalis has awarded us this project reinforces our confidence in Royal IHC’s added value for our customers, as well as the market potential of our vessels, equipment and services.’

The LoI follows an earlier cooperation between the two companies in the design and engineering phase of two state-of-the-art TSHDs. The design and engineering of the new TSHD has been achieved in full co-creation. Royal IHC has been working on the design together with a team from Boskalis.

‘Working together has given us a unique opportunity to achieve an optimal design for this customised trailing suction hopper dredger,’ says Klaver.

Also read: Another net loss for Royal IHC, 2023 will be a crucial year

Prepared for methanol

The modern design is characterised by the 31,000 m3 hopper volume, two trailing suction pipes, a large shore pump capacity and diesel-electric propulsion. The vessel will also be prepared for the use of methanol as a fuel to ensure a future-proof design.

Shortly before Royal IHC’s delivery of the cutter suction dredger Krios to Boskalis in 2020, both parties agreed on the design and engineering of the TSHD. Theo Baartmans, Member of the Executive Board of Boskalis: ‘Now that we have this LoI, we are looking forward to this new phase. With the 31,000 m3 TSHD we are taking an important step to make our dredging fleet fit for the future.’

Royal IHC and Boskalis have an extensive history of collaboration. The most recently delivered vessels were the mega cutter suction dredgers (CSDs) Krios (2020) and Helios (2017). Previously, Royal IHC has also delivered TSHDs such as Gateway, Crestway, Willem van Oranje and Prins der Nederlanden.

Also read: Boskalis reaches record order book in first quarter