Damen Shiprepair and Conversion (DSC) has secured a new contract from Rouen-based GIE Dragages-Ports to covert a dredger unit into a dual-fuel capability combining LNG and MGO.

The deal will cover the conversion of GIE Dragages-Ports’ 117m-long, 8,500m³ trailing suction hopper dredger, Samuel de Champlain.

It forms part of a wider EU-supported initiative, which aims to promote the use of LNG propulsion in short-sea vessels operating across the European Atlantic coast.

"The consortium allows us to share experience with our partners and to access the support from INEA, without which this project would not have been possible."

The conversion is scheduled to be carried out at Damen Shiprepair Dunkerque next year and will require Damen to deliver a turnkey package that includes engineering, procurement and support services.

Samuel de Champlain was originally built in 2002 and features a diesel-electric burning MGO in its current propulsion system.

The existing generators are to be replaced with dual-fuel models, while onboard LNG storage facilities will also be installed.

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GIE Dragages-Ports is a group that owns, maintains and charters a seven-dredger fleet to six key ports serving the French Atlantic coast and Marseille in the Mediterranean.

The group is 50% owned by the French State, while the remaining 50% stake is shared between the seven ports.

The conversion project has received a subsidy from the European Commission’s Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) under its Connecting Europe Facility programme.

GIE Dragages-Ports has also formed a 12-member Franco-Spanish consortium named the ‘S/F SamueLNG for a Blue Atlantic Arch’ project to receive the subsidy.

The consortium is expected to work to encourage the usage of LNG by small-scale vessels active on the region.

GIE Dragages-Ports CEO Jean-Pierre Guellec said: “The consortium allows us to share experience with our partners and to access the support from INEA, without which this project would not have been possible.

“We hope that this conversion will demonstrate to other short-sea vessels the benefits of conversion to LNG and mark the first stage of the development of an LNG-bunkering network on the Atlantic coast of mainland Europe.”