Dutch shipbuilder Damen has held the keel laying ceremony for the diving bell vessel ordered by FMSW Koblenz.

The Duisburg shipping authority WSA (Wasserstrassen- und Schifffahrtsamt) will be the operator of the new ship.

A keel-laying ceremony took place at Europoort Construction in Hendrik Ido Ambacht in the Netherlands.

After the completion of the hull fabrication, Damen will transfer the ship to Damen Shipyards Gorinchem where the remaining works such as construction, outfitting and commissioning will be conducted.

Design and engineering work on the ship included the performance optimisation of the ship in collaboration with the client.

The new diving bell ship will replace the 50-year old vessel Carl Straat. The vessel will operate in the River Rhine and its tributaries.

The ship will accommodate a diving bell, enabling the crew members to work in dry conditions below the water level in a pressurised atmosphere.

The lifting system of the ship will enable the vessel to operate without lowering the water level of the river.

Main uses of the ship will include finding lost cargo and wreckage, examining underwater structures and supporting riverbed works.

The ship will also provide barrel anchors in gravel and rocky areas. By leveraging liquid nitrogen to stabilise loose material, the ship will be able to extract soil samples from the riverbed.

The 69m-long ship will feature diesel-electric propulsion, in line with the EU Stage V standards, and Haux’s diving equipment to provide optimal efficiency.

FMSW Koblenz project manager Gerald Rose said: “The cooperation between WSV and Damen Shipyards has been very constructive so far. We look forward to this continuing and resulting in a successful build and smooth delivery.”

Europoort Construction and Damen Shipyards will also build and supply the hull for the ship.

The ship will be delivered by the fourth quarter of 2020.