Willem van Rubroeck

Willem van Rubroeck – Ship of the Week Feb 2, 2017 | West Pacific Marine

In late August 2017, the world’s largest self propelled Cutter Suction Dredger Willem van Rubroeck was launched at the Uljanik Shipyard in Croatia. The concept of a Cutter Suction Dredger (CSD) is that of a vessel which is equipped with a rotating head for cutting and fragmenting hard soils. The soil is sucked up by means of dredge pumps before being discharged through a floating pipeline and piped to shore. Alternatively, the dredge material  may be discharged into split hopper barges that are moored alongside during operations. In contrast to a traditional dredger, a CSD is moored and stationary while dredging. See an excellent video of the launch at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BC-Q-zB6HoM

Built by Uljanik Shipyard, Croatia
Owned and managed by the Jan De Nul Group
Launched in August 2017, to be delivered Q1 2018
LOA 151.3m
Beam 36m
Loaded draft 5.75m
Installed power 40,975kW
Dredging power 25,500kw spread over 3 pumps
Cutter power 8,500kw
Dredge depth up to 45m
Speed 12 knots
Standard crew compliment 67


The picture above left shows the vessel during launch, immediately after clearing the slipway, while the picture above right is a concept picture of the completed vessel in operation. The company’s history goes back to 1938 when Jan Frans Jozef De Nul started his own civil engineering company. In 1951 the first international dredging project was secured and between 2009-2014 the Group was part of the consortium that built the new locks in the Panama Canal.

William of Rubruck (1220 – 1293) was a Flemish Franciscan missionary and explorer who travelled extensively to the Mongol empire and recorded his experiences. Born in Rubrouck, Flanders, he is variously known also as William of Rubruk, Willem van Ruysbroeck, Guillaume de Rubrouck or Willielmus de Rubruquis.

The traditional European expertise in dredging is not without challenge. In November this year, China’s latest CSD, Tian Kun Hao, was floated out from the dry dock of Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co. (ZPMC). With a total installed power of 25,843 kW and a cutter power of 6.600 kW, she is the largest and most powerful CSD ever built in China. There has been a major expansion of China’s dredging fleet over the past 15 years, not only to service expanding port infrastructure, but also the controversial policy of island building in the South China Sea. China’s “Maritime Silk Road” strategy, part of the broader “Belt and Road strategy”, is set to drive major Asian dredging demand in the form of port construction over the next 30 years.