Boskalis and Royal IHC have signed the contract for the construction of a large trailing suction hopper dredger. The signing marks the final go-ahead for the construction of this mega hopper in the Netherlands. It is a crucial order for Royal IHC, as it needed to land large custom shipbuilding orders for its survival.

The new trailing suction hopper dredger (TSHD) with a hopper volume of 31,000 m3 will be built at Royal IHC‘s yard in Krimpen aan den IJssel in the Netherlands. The megahopper is expected to be delivered in mid-2026.

The cooperation between Boskalis and IHC for the construction of this state-of-the art trailing suction hopper dredger already took concrete form in 2020, when an agreement was reached for the design and engineering of the TSHD. From then on, full co-creation worked on an optimal and future-proof design of this custom-built trailing suction hopper dredger.

Also read: IHC finally has large custom order in sight with TSHD for Boskalis

Ready for methanol

The new vessel will be one of the largest trailing suction hopper dredgers in the Boskalis fleet. Noteworthy features of the energy-efficient vessel design include the full diesel-electric installation and propulsion via Azipods. These technological innovations, combined with the optimised underwater hull design and an advanced automation system, will contribute to a significantly lower fuel consumption.

The vessel is also being prepared for the use of (green) methanol as an alternative fuel. The methanol plant and storage tanks on board make this switch possible. Furthermore, the dual fuel main engines are equipped with two-stage turbos and can be powered by both conventional fuels and more sustainable alternatives such as biodiesel and methanol, providing for a substantial reduction of CO2 emissions.

With a double suction pipe equipped with underwater pumps and two discharge pumps with a combined discharge capacity of 15,000 kW, the new trailing suction hopper dredger is well suited to dredging material and discharge this over long distances to a reclamation site. This powerful performance also contributes to increased efficiency of the dredging process.

Also read: IHC to maintain three Dutch navy vessels

Previous dredgers

The collaboration between Royal IHC and Boskalis goes back a long way. The most recently delivered vessels are the megacutters Krios (2020) and the Helios (2017). Previously, Royal IHC delivered trailing suction hopper dredgers such as the Gateway, Crestway, Willem van Oranje and Prins der Nederlanden.

Royal IHC CEO Jan-Pieter Klaver, when signing the letter of intent in June 2023, already expressed his thanks to Boskalis for its confidence in Royal IHC. ‘As far as we are concerned, the cooperation with Boskalis symbolises how we want to serve our clients. We are passionate about using our craftsmanship and drive to continuously innovate to develop effective and sustainable solutions that meet our clients’ needs.’

‘We are delighted to have reached the final award after a careful process, thus perpetuating the close relationship between Boskalis and Royal IHC,’ adds Theo Baartmans, member of the Board of Management at Boskalis. ‘Moreover, thanks to the innovative design and craftsmanship of Royal IHC and its partners, by building this megahopper we are taking an important step forward in future-proofing our fleet.’

Also read: Royal IHC secures launch customer for new trencher

Crucial order for IHC

For IHC, this type of order is precisely what the company has been waiting for after its latest restructuring round in October 2022. This followed a lack of new large shipbuilding and ship repair orders and resulted in 251 jobs being cut and the yard in Krimpen aan den IJssel to be temporarily closed down. The Boskalis order now allows this yard to reopen as the vessel will be built there.

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. The sale of IQIP reduced the company’s debt load and paved 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

The workings of a trailing suction hopper dredger

The workings of a trailing suction hopper dredger

A trailing suction hopper dredger is a vessel used to extract and transport sand or sediment by dragging a trailing head attached to a long suction pipe (2) with water jets (1) while travelling over the seabed, as a result of which the material to be dredged is loosened in front of the suction head. Large centrifugal pumps transport the dredged material to the hopper (3) from where it is later deposited (through bottom doors) (4) or discharged (through a pipeline or sprayed – rainbowed – across the bow) (5) to a reclamation area. Applications of the hopper dredger include the deepening and maintenance of ports and waterways and protecting coastlines from erosion and the effects of climate change.