On 2 November 2020 Damen Shipyards signed a contract with the Dutch ferry joint venture Aqualiner-Swets for a total of nine passenger vessels.

With these vessels, the joint venture will provide the public transportation service between Rotterdam and the Drecht cities on behalf of the Province of South Holland and the Region from 2022, better known as Waterbus. Aqualiner-Swets won a EU tendered contract of maximum 15 years.

Damen will deliver a total of nine vessels, of which six are hybrid and carbon fibre Waterbuses to serve the fast ferry Intercity routes primarily between Sliedrecht, Dordrecht, Rotterdam and the World Heritage site Kinderdijk.

Damen and the new operators have incorporated into the designed to the possibility to convert these vessels to full electric propulsion, by 2030 at the latest.

The City Ferries will be fully electric from the start of service in 2022 and will provide a service in the city area of Dordrecht, Papendrecht and Zwijndrecht.

Damen has developed the vessels to fulfil the green ambitions of Aqualiner-Swets, the regional minister of transport and all the local governments, including that all ferry services will be completely emissions free by 2030.

All nine of the Waterbuses are therefore extremely efficient in terms of weight, hull design and systems, featuring a hybrid-electric arrangement for peak shaving. Sustainability is an important theme to be found running throughout the overall vessel design.

For instance, Damen has developed the vessels’ interiors to be completely circular, using natural materials such as wool and wood, as well as recycled materials.

Together with the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (Marin), Damen performed a parametric study and hull optimisation, to improve the performance on the low wash catamarans. This is aimed at reducing the wake wash produced by the vessels, so as not to cause disruption to those living and working on the water in the area of operation.