Last Friday, 30 May 2008, saw the laying of the keel for Van Oord’s new suction hopper dredger, Vox Dubai. The new vessel will be about 203 metres long, with a beam of 31 metres and a draught of 17.5 metres, making it the largest suction hopper dredger yet built in the Netherlands. This will be the second big suction hopper dredger – i.e. with a capacity of more than 30,000 m3 – that Van Oord is adding to its fleet. Earlier this year, the extended HAM 318 was completed. The HAM 318 has a hopper capacity of 37,500 cubic metres, making it the biggest in the world.
The first big sections were built during a preparation period lasting more than a year. They were then transported on pontoons to Kinderdijk, where they were transferred to the slipway.
Laying a ship’s keel is the official start of construction on the slipway. The ceremonial act was performed on Friday by Wilma Sangers, the partner of Jan de Graaf, the deceased chief engineer who would have worked on the new ship.
When the keel is laid, a coin is traditionally placed under it, and that tradition was honoured in the case of the Vox Dubai too. When the ship is actually launched, the coin is recovered and presented to the commissioning client so as to wish the vessel many safe journeys.
The Vox Dubai is expected to become operational towards the end of 2009.
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