Damen Shipyards adapts to new Argentinian import regulations

Source: Damen

Damen Shipyards, which has already built up a considerable presence in Argentina since the nineties, is working very closely with Argentinian shipyards and looking forward to expanding its activities in the country. Currently, several Damen ASD tugs are being built in Argentina and very soon work will begin on an entirely new powerful pusher to serve the Hidrovía Paraná-Paraguay, the greatest waterway of South America.

Between 1994 and 1999, Damen delivered more than 40 of its well-known AluCats to the Prefectura Naval Argentina, as well as several Stan Tenders. Early this year the group delivered a Damen ASD Tug 2810 to towage and harbour company Remolcadores Unidos Argentinos (RUA). Although the Dutch company’s tugs have operated in Argentina before, this vessel is the first time a Damen tug has been owned by an Argentinian company.

New import regulations
This tug could enter the history books because it is set to be the last vessel built by a foreign company that is allowed into Argentina, following a ban on some foreign imports that cannot be built locally. When the vessel was being delivered from Damen Shipyards Changde (China) to RUA in Buenos Aires (a two-month journey), the import rules changed when she was crossing the Pacific Ocean (official date: February 1st). Damen Shipyards adapted very quickly to the new regulations and is now collaborating with the well-respected Argentinian shipyard SPI.

Ezequiel Najmias, Damen Sales Manager Americas said: “This 60 tonne bollard pull vessel, which can comfortably accommodate 10 crew, is a reflection of the growing economy in Argentina and the fact that vessels calling into the country’s ports are increasing in size. The Damen ASD Tug 2810 continues to be a world favourite with customers, with around 120 sold over the years. It is just perfect for harbour operations and for Buenos Aires.”

ASD Tug 2810 built locally
Meanwhile, Damen has for some time been in talks with another leading Argentinian tug operator: La Plata Remolques (LPR). Initially LPR was considering buying an ASD Tug 2810 from Damen’s stock, but because of the new regulations this is no longer possible. However, LPR works very closely with SPI Shipyards, which has three shipbuilding centres in Argentina. Following fruitful talks, Damen, SPI and LPR have now agreed that Damen will provide a partial material package to SPI, allowing the vessel to be built locally in Mar del Plata. Damen Shipyards and SPI signed the newbuild contract in January 2012 and the vessel is expected to be delivered in early 2013.

Due to the strong demand in Argentina, Damen and SPI are going to build at least two more 2810 tugs for the local stock. There is already a great deal of interest in these vessels, said Mr Najmias. Damen quality standards will be guaranteed as the Dutch shipyard group will assist SPI throughout the building process.

Pioneering new pusher for the Hidrovía Paraná-Paraguay
Soon Damen and SPI will launch an entirely new concept for the mighty Hidrovía, which is one of the busiest waterways in the world. A superstrong pusher, with an exceptionally low draught, will be able to handle 16 barges and transport them the entire length of the river without transport operators having to switch pushers midway. In the dry season the Hidrovía (which starts in Brazil before travelling 3,442 km into the Río de la Plata in Argentina) can be as low as 2.1 m in parts and this makes it very difficult for shipping companies to operate all year round. Furthermore, many of the existing pushers operating on the river are more than 30 years old.

“We examined how we could improve this transport and make it more efficient, because currently operators have to disconnect the barge convoy and switch to a smaller pusher where it is a lower draught at Asuncion. We have now designed a tailor-made pusher with a lower draught that is so powerful it can push the convoy all the way”, says Mr Najmias. 

Damen engineers have worked together with SPI to come up with the optimal solution and this led to the creation of the Pusher 4619 (46 m long by 19 m wide). This incredibly powerful pusher has 7,100HP spread over four axels, rather than the more usual type of 4,000HP with a deeper draught. The draught of the new pusher tug will be only 1.8 m.

Again, there is a lot of interest in the new vessel type. Mr Najmias: “This pusher will allow transport and logistic companies to operate 365 days a year, giving them guaranteed reliability.” SPI is likely to start to build the first Damen Pusher 4619 this year.


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