His Majesty King Willem-Alexander visited the maritime manufacturing industry in the Smart Delta Drechtsteden region on Thursday 25 January. The Smart Delta Drechtsteden is the third largest maritime cluster in Europe and the largest maritime working region in the Netherlands.

The king was briefed on topics such as innovation, sustainability and human capital with Minister Micky Adriaansens of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and new Maritime Envoy Kees van der Staaij. Former Member of Parliament Van der Staaij has taken over the role of Maritime Envoy from Marja van Bijsterveldt, who was responsible for creating the Sector Agenda (launched in October 2023) for the maritime industry.

The King, Minister and Envoy visited two maritime companies in the region: Koedood Marine Group in Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht and Holland Shipyards in Hardinxveld-Giessendam. Koedood presented a hydrogen engine to the king, where Holland Shipyards included an autonomous electric ferry destined for Sweden, a hydrogen-powered vessel for inland waterways, the 3D-printed autonomous ferry designed for the upcoming Paris Olympics, and an aluminum electric ferry in its tour for the King.

In the concluding round table discussion, the importance of the maritime manufacturing industry for the Dutch economy was underlined. The King showed great interest in how the Dutch maritime sector can compete with foreign countries, such as China. Watch a video about the working visit below (in Dutch only).

Also read: Dutch King and Minister pay working visit to maritime industry

Sector Agenda

Mayor Jan de Vries, as vice-chairman of Smart Delta Drechtsteden, was allowed to open the day: ‘I explained to the King and the Minister of Economic Affairs how strong our region is in the maritime manufacturing industry. At the same time, international competition means vulnerability is high. That is why we welcome the Sector Agenda. Knowledge and innovations are needed to invest in sustainability and a strong competitive position.’

Also read: Dutch govt and sector put EUR 60 million in innovative shipbuilding

Innovation and well-trained people

Alderman Maarten Burggraaf, regional portfolio holder for Maritime Affairs, is honoured by the Minister and the King’s visit: ‘The heart of the maritime manufacturing industry is in Smart Delta Drechtsteden. ‘

Maarten Jeronimus, CEO of Koedood Marine Group stressed the importance of innovation. ‘Talent is the engine of our innovations. We want to build on the lead we are working on as an engine of the manufacturing industry by working with educational institutions to give well-trained people every opportunity.’

Also read: Holland Shipyards shows its innovative strength to Minister Adriaansens


Holland Shipyards Group director Marco Hoogendoorn praised the cooperation with entrepreneurs from the region during the round table discussion that was organised post-tour: ‘We regularly notice how well Smart Delta Drechtsteden is involved in the maritime manufacturing industry. ‘

The conversation also turned to the Netherlands’ maritime manufacturing industry’s crucial position, the resilience offered by continuous innovation, the incentives required to attract shipowners to Dutch shores, and strategies to bolster the appeal of the nation’s shipbuilding sector.

Smart Delta Drechtsteden

Smart Delta Drechtsteden is a partnership of businesses, education and government in the region with the aim of strengthening the region’s broad prosperity. The Drechtsteden region consists of the municipalities of Alblasserdam, Dordrecht, Hardinxveld-Giessendam, Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht, Papendrecht, Sliedrecht and Zwijndrecht.

One of the spearheads of the partnership is to support and encourage the maritime manufacturing industry, a key driver for innovation, the economy and employment in the region.

Picture (top) by Holland Shipyards Group.

Also read: ‘It took a war to put Dutch shipbuilding back on the agenda’