Singapore, October 22 — Cape Verde marked an important milestone in its history as the ten-island state sees the official inauguration of its first-ever, newbuild fast ferry. The "Kriola", a DAMEN Fast Ferry 4512, literally represents a lifeline to Cape Verdeans.
DAMEN Regional Director, Friso Visser, commented: "We are very proud to have been chosen to partner with Cape Verde in this unique project and to be able to answer the exact needs of the owner, Cabo Verde Fast Ferry."
The Dutch shipbuilding group, headquartered in Gorinchem in the Netherlands, is especially delighted to have managed to build the new ro-ro ferry in less than one year and to have even delivered it weeks earlier than planned.
Kriola is expected to enter service by the end of the year and a second sister vessel, the Liberdadi, is due to be delivered early 2011. Other vessels may follow in the future to boost Cape Verde's sea transportation connectivity.
As well as being the country's first new fast ferry, the vessel was also funded in a unique way. Cabo Verde Fast Ferry carried out the country's first Initial Public Offering (IPO) to raise the funds needed. Cape Verdeans were so keen to buy bonds that the IPO resulted in one of the highest stock exchange participations ever.
The Kriola can accommodate 164 passengers and 65 tonnes of cargo and was built at DAMEN Shipyards Singapore, a yard known for its quality aluminium fast ferries, patrol boats, crew suppliers and workboats.
Cabo Verde Fast Ferry President, Andy Andrade, outlined the importance of the new vessel to the islanders.
Cape Verde has always been somewhat isolated because of its position in the middle of the Atlantic but this is particularly worse for the outlying island of Brava, explained Mr. Andrade.
"Often transportation is only carried out on an ad-hoc basis because the waters are subject to many currents, substantial wave heights and very windy conditions. Safe, reliable transportation to the islands was a key priority."
Cabo Verde Fast Ferry company contacted several yards, both in Europe and the US, Mr. Andrade stressed: "Our new vessels had to be very specific for Cape Verde. It was only DAMEN that took the time to actually look at the specific needs of Cape Verde."
Seakeeping ability was crucial and the vessel had to be able to support the business plan, so facilitate the right mix of passengers/cargo, comfort levels, fuel consumption and operational costs weight into the design factors.
The DAMEN 4512 also appealed because it could offer a very fast turnaround in port because the vessel is very compact. To achieve the same operational profile, a comparable German-built vessel operating between the islands is 68 meters — a considerable increase on the 45m length of the DAMEN Fast Ferry.
Another high priority request from CVFF was a ferry that had to be able to serve the four southern islands in a day before travelling back to its home port in Brava for the night. Therefore, it needed to achieve speeds of 18-22 knots.
"These two vessels will really bring maritime transportation into the 21st century," company executives emphasized. They are certain that as soon as the Kriola arrives it will stimulate travel and it will give a boost to the economy. The DAMEN Fast Ferry will not only make it easier for foreign tourism but also internal tourism between the islands. Workers and students travelling will also benefit from the new ferries, added Andy.
Established in 1927, DAMEN now has more than 30 shipyards worldwide and employs 6,700 people. In 2009, the company had a turnover of E1.4bn. DAMEN has an extremely varied portfolio, specialising in fast ferries, tugs, workboats, patrol craft, cargo vessels, dredgers, mega yachts and naval vessels.
DAMEN has been a pioneer of modular shipbuilding based on standardised designs. Introduced in 1969 by DAMEN Chairman, Kommer Damen, this technique gives the yard the ability to offer well-proven vessels, very short delivery times and competitive prices.
In addition to newbuild construction, DAMEN is involved in maintenance and repair activities and a wide range of associated maritime services.