Windermere Lake Cruises currently runs a fleet of sixteen lake cruising vessels: three traditional ‘steamers’ – each with a capacity of more than 350 passengers – as well as other traditional and modern launches. The fleet operates all year round, taking passengers on tours, day trips and evening functions on the Lake District’s largest lake, Lake Windermere. The role of the company in the local economy cannot be overstated: more than 1.6 million passenger journeys are taken every year, making Windermere Lake Cruises one the most popular attractions in the UK.
A one-off vessel
To accommodate this consistent and extensive growth in visitor numbers, and enhance the sustainable transport offering on Windermere, Bill Bewley, Chairman Windermere Lake Cruises explains that the company felt that it was time to increase the size of the fleet. Assisted by James Fisher PLC, Windermere Lake Cruises first approached UK-based shipyards. “However, it soon became clear in the procurement process that the shipyard with the depth of experience to undertake this project, within the cost and timescale requirements, was Damen,” he adds.
The resulting design and construction contract with Damen detailed numerous specifications relating to the rather extraordinary inland location of Lake Windermere.
Looking the part
In terms of design, says Damen Jan van Ooijen, Design & Proposal Engineer Ferries, it was important that this new ‘one-of-a-kind’ vessel not only matches the looks of the existing fleet and heritage of this area, but also stands out as being a technologically modern lake cruising vessel. “This diesel-electric vessel – to be named Swift– will have four-star comfort seating capacity for 300 passengers,” he says. “It will be fully accessible by wheelchair and the top deck can be opened or closed, depending on what the weather decides.”
Building for a (protected) inland location
The fact that the Swiftwill operate in an inaccessible inland location and that the Lake District is a UK National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site means that Damen will combine two of its shipbuilding methods to ensure maximum possible care and respect for the local environment.
“Building a ship is typically a very noisy process, so it is obviously not possible to build this vessel from scratch on location,” comments Damen Design & Proposal Engineer Maarten Lamboo. “Therefore, to optimise the production process and limit local disturbance, we are prefabricating the hull and superstructure in sections at Damen Shipyards Kozle in Poland. And then, under the scope of Damen Technical Cooperation [DTC] – which can be briefly described as building any Damen vessel at any facility in the world – we will assemble these sections at a lakeside location next to the Lakes Aquarium and the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Steam Railway.” Once completed, Damen will transport the newly built vessel to the water by multi-wheeled vehicle, and lift it into the water for its final outfitting and trials.
“The Lake District is such a special and beautiful location – and we are so proud to be building a vessel that will sail here for generations to come,” adds Damen UK Sales Manager Arjen van Elk. “This is made possible by implementing our DTC construction methods. Building a vessel for an inland location in this way is actually unique in Europe.
Damen Shipyards Group
Damen Shipyards Group operates 36shipbuilding and repair yards, employing 12,000 people worldwide. Damen has delivered more than 6,500 vessels in more than 100 countries and delivers around 175 vessels annually to customers worldwide. Based on its unique, standardised ship-design concept Damen is able to guarantee consistent quality.
Damen’s focus on standardisation, modular construction and keeping vessels in stock leads to short delivery times, low ‘total cost of ownership’, high resale values and reliable performance. Furthermore, Damen vessels are based on thorough R&D and proven technology.
Damen offers a wide range of products, including tugs, workboats, naval and patrol vessels, high speed craft, cargo vessels, dredgers, vessels for the offshore industry, ferries, pontoons and superyachts.
For nearly all vessel types Damen offers a broad range of services, including maintenance, spare parts delivery, training and the transfer of (shipbuilding) know-how. Damen also offers a variety of marine components, such as nozzles, rudders, winches, anchors, anchor chains and steel works.
Damen Shiprepair & Conversion (DSC) has a worldwide network of eighteen repair and conversion yards of which twelve are located in North West Europe. Facilities at the yards include more than 50 floating (and covered) drydocks, including the longest, 420 x 80 metres, and the widest, 405 x 90 metres, as well as slopes, ship lifts and indoor halls. Projects range from the smallest simple repairs through Class’ maintenance to complex refits and the complete conversion of large offshore structures. DSC completes around 1,300 repair and maintenance jobs annually, both at yards as well as in ports and during voyage.