The contract, signed by Flemish Prime Minister Kris Peeters in Brussels, is for three 25m SWATH pilot tenders to be named Westdiep.
The contract, signed by Flemish Prime Minister Kris Peeters in Brussels, is for three 25m SWATH pilot tenders to be named Westdiep,Wielingen and Westerschelde, as well as a 60m SWATH pilot station ship to be named Wandelaar, for delivery 2011 and 2012. Reports said modernisation of the Belgian pilot boat fleet was urgently needed.
The order is one of the biggest ever for German SWATH ships and means that A&R has now sold its SWATH pilotage tender and station ship systems in three countries. Its boats already operate in German and Dutch ports.
Reports said Belgium"s MDK Agency for maritime and coastal services had based its decision to order the boats on Dutch experience. Dutch pilots operate one of the 25m tenders on the Schelde. A&R said the deal was also the result of "good operational experience" reported by German pilots. They have operated 25m pilot tenders and a 50m station ship since 1999.
MDK is reportedly hoping for considerably more efficient pilot services with the new boats, which can operate in wave heights up to 4m and should thus be available for service almost the whole year round in Belgium.
The tenders will reportedly be delivered through 2011 and the station ship the following year. The value of the order was not revealed but it will secure jobs at A&R and at its equipment suppliers until 2012 and is one of only a few new orders for ships of any kind placed in German shipyards this year.
A&R said that including the new Belgian boats, it had now built or taken orders for 20 SWATH vessels of various types for customers worldwide.