Shipyard uses digital communications to ensure safe steel-cutting ceremony during coronavirus outbreak

On Monday 27 April Damen Yichang Shipyard in China hosted a steel cutting ceremony with a difference.

As a result of safety measures surrounding the global COVID-19 outbreak, the occasion of first steel cut for a Damen RoPax Ferry 6716 for the Government of Timor-Leste was marked by a digital gathering.

The steel cutting ceremony is always an occasion for celebration and, ordinarily, Damen would invite its clients and guests to attend the event. However, at the current time this is not possible, so the occasion required some digital innovation.

Damen sales manager Gysbert Boersma explains, “During the coronavirus crisis, our first priority is for peoples’ safety and well-being. We do, however, still like to mark these important milestones so we do so in a safety-conscious manner, with the aid of digital communications. The steel cutting was a great success; we certainly still managed to make it a special event.”

Attendees of the online ceremony included representatives of the Government of Timor-Leste and Damen employees in both China and the Netherlands.

The delegates gathered at their individual computers at 14.50 China Standard time (15.50 in Timor-Lest and 08.50 in the Netherlands) to listen to speeches. After this, Damen Yichang Shipyard General Manager Mr Deng Zhiping pushed the button and the first steel was cut.

When completed, the 67m x 16m vessel will operate a route between Timor-Leste’s capital Dili, the Oecusse enclave and the island of Ataúro. She will carry up to 308 passenger, plus vehicles and goods.

The project is co-funded by the governments of Timor-Leste and Germany and is scheduled to begin operations in 2021. The Government of Timor-Leste has stated that the ferry will open up new opportunities for commerce, education and employment in the country.

During the coronavirus crisis, Damen Yichang Shipyard has managed to continue production by taking robust safety measures that ensure the well-being of personnel, their families and the wider community. This has included many employees working from home.