MV Veteran, the 80-metre ice class RoPax ferry built by Damen Shipyards was handed over to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador (GNL) in St. John’s, Newfoundland, on 23 October 2015. Launched earlier this year by Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania, the vessel will start services from Fogo Island and Change Islands before the end of November. MV Veteran was delivered from the shipyard on time and within budget.

Announcing the arrival of the vessel, Premier Paul Davis stated: “The arrival of MV Veteran is a proud moment for our province and the residents of Fogo Island and Change Islands.”

MV Veteran is the first of a two-vessel contract, with a design stemming from a Canadian-Danish partnership between Fleetway and Knud E. Hansen. Several Canadian companies provided services for these vessels, from electrical equipment to fire-fighting systems. The sister ship, MV Legionnaire, is scheduled for delivery in the spring of 2016. MV Legionnaire will operate on the short-haul route, the busiest route from Portugal Cove to Bell Island.

Both vessels are part of a large “lifeline” vessel replacement programme being undertaken by the provincial government to modernise its fleet. These are critical marine ferry services for Newfoundlanders as well as visitors to the region. For GNL, upgrading the safety level and reliability of its vessels is a major priority in order to safeguard the well-being of the islanders. The government’s fleet annually transports over 900,000 passengers, 400,000 vehicles and 20,000 tonnes of freight with more than 50,000 arrivals and departures.

Since this region is located near the Arctic, vessels have to manoeuvre in drifting ice. According to Damen Manager North America Jan van Hogerwou, “GNL wants to provide service continuity. These highly durable ferries can handle the impact of 40 cm-thick floating ice at 4 knots. Their rudders, hull and propellers have been strengthened and are outfitted with extra plate thickness for heavy winter conditions.”

Product Director, Damen Ferries, Henk Grunstra, explains: “The highest certificate available for ferries is the Ice Class 1A Super certificate. These diesel-electric propelled vessels also have redundant systems. The bridge is ergonomically designed and has optimal working space for efficient and safe operation. The modern, low maintenance interior was designed by an internationally recognised designer. The shift crew lives on board the ship in 15 single crew cabins.”

These 200-passenger vessels have roll-on, roll-off capacity for 60 vehicles, and unload passenger and vehicle traffic quickly. The 80.9 metre long Veteran with a beam of 17.2 metres and cruising speed of 14 knots, will replace MV Earl Windsor built in 1975. The sister ship will replace MV Beaumont Hamel which dates from 1985.

A certified Damen maintenance centre will be located in St. John’s through an agreement with a local company whose employees are currently being trained at Damen Shipyards Galati. Together with Memorial University in St. John’s, Damen also offers a student (exchange) programme for naval engineers. Once the vessel is in operation, the service centre will commence its activities. Mr Hogerwou adds: “This service hub is the start of Damen’s presence in Newfoundland, which Damen hopes to grow in order to become a substantial economic motor, taking into account vessel replacement projects that have to be launched.”

With regard to the growth of Damen’s presence, Damen is also building 4 platform supply vessels for the oil and gas industry which will be delivered to Canadian-owned towing and salvage company Atlantic Towing. These platform vessels will be stationed at St. John’s.