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René Berkvens (Damen): “This award will motivate [our designers] to continue to develop innovative solutions”
René Berkvens (Damen): “This award will motivate [our designers] to continue to develop innovative solutions”

Industry stalwart honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award

René Berkvens wins Lifetime Achievement Award, dedicates it to colleagues

The 2020 Offshore Support Journal Conference and Awards Lifetime Achievement Award went to former Damen CEO and current Supervisory Board member René Berkvens.

In 2006, Mr Berkvens was appointed CEO of the Damen Shipyards Group, a position he held for 13 years through the end of 2019. During that time, he oversaw a period of growth and diversification at Damen, as well as increasing levels of standardisation in shipbuilding.

Accepting the award by video, in absentia, Mr Berkvens said: “Dear friends of Offshore Support Journal, thank you very much for bestowing your lifetime achievement award on me. It is a real honour. I’m sorry I’m not there with you in person [but] after 40 years in shipbuilding, I am thrilled to receive this award.”

Mr Berkvens made a point of thanking his colleagues at Damen. “Obviously, I don’t do this by myself. Therefore, I would like to dedicate this award to the many engineers and researchers that work on product development at Damen. This award will motivate them to continue to develop innovative solutions for the offshore industry," he said.

On the subject of innovate designs, he continued: “Later this year the Damen fast crew supplier 7011 and the new OSV 9020 will hit the water. Both of them are game-changers.”

Damen’s Antalya shipyard in Turkey started construction on the 7011 vessel in June 2019. When completed, Damen has said that the 70-m vessel will become the largest aluminium mono-hull vessel the company has ever built. Damen expects the vessel to launch in August 2020.

The FCS 7011 model can accommodate up to 250 crew members and cruise at a speed of more than 40 kts with a range of 200 nm, according to Damen’s brochure.

Capable of operating in diverse weather conditions, the vessel features stabilisers, active interceptors and marine access systems for crew safety, and the vessel can serve a number of offshore installations in a single round trip, helping to save time and operational costs.

Damen Shipyards Antalya has successfully delivered a number of high-speed craft in both composites and aluminium.

Damen unveiled the concept design for its OSV 9020 model just ahead of the Offshore Support Journal Conference and Awards, in late January 2020.

Built around a stable platform with station-keeping capability, low carbon emissions and flexibility to add mission-specific tools, Damen’s OSV 9020 vessel is designed to handle offshore tasks at both surface and subsea level.

The company said the OSV 9020 was conceived as a standard product, drawing upon proven technology that can be tailored to individual requirements through modularisation.

The new concept was born out of necessity, according to Damen design engineer Mark Couwenberg. He said the company was approached by several operators who were “all looking for slightly different offshore capabilities ... similar enough that their requirements could be met with a conceptual standard platform.

"The vessel can be fitted with a moonpool-deployed saturation dive system to allow diving operations [utilising] an offshore crane, a stern A-frame and an offshore access system. The vessel can also act as a submarine rescue vessel and comes with a helicopter deck integrated in the design," he said.

OSV 9020 provides living space for 120 people on board and the interior is designed with working areas separate from living space.

Mr Couwenberg said the design was intended to ensure the accommodation spaces were "both functional and comfortable".

The vessel has been primarily designed to operate on dynamic positioning (DP), with the hull, superstructure and thruster layout designed for DP. The vessel’s profile minimises wind catch and four identical azimuthing thrusters are arranged symmetrically – two on the stern and two on the bow – for station-keeping performance and to avoid high noise levels in crew accommodation.

Diesel generators on board are supported by a battery pack and the electric system operates with closed bus-ties. The vessel is fitted with a hybrid power generation system to reduce emissions, and Damen said the vessel can also be configured to operate on green methanol produced from biological waste streams.

Mr Berkvens closed his remarks with another round of thanks for the lifetime achievement award.

According to his Damen biography, Mr Berkvens was born and raised in Rotterdam. Interested in technical fields, he enrolled at the Hogere Technische School (Polytechnic) in Dordrecht to study shipbuilding.

First arriving at Damen in 1976, as an intern, Mr Berkvens’ career at the company began in earnest in 1983, when he took on a permanent position as a junior sales manager for Damen in West Africa, a role he held for six years.

After his time in West Africa, Mr Berkvens moved to work in the northern African region – Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco – and also covered the African Great Lakes region, including Malawi.

The next stop on Mr Berkvens career path saw him move into a position as regional director in the Americas. A small market for Damen at the time, Mr Berkvens oversaw substantial growth over the course of his eight years there, establishing a presence in the region which has continued to be of great importance for Damen to the present day.

Following his stint in the Americas, Mr Berkvens spent two years as managing director of Damen Shipyards at the company’s headquarters in Gorinchem, Netherlands. A much smaller business then than it is today, at the time the yard was focused on building high-speed craft, tugs, workboats, offshore and transport vessels, and the global sales organisation, then, as now, was based in Gorinchem.

When the Royal Schelde naval shipbuilding yard joined the Damen Shipyards Group at the turn of the millennium, Mr Berkvens took over operations for four and a half years, organising all the companies of the Schelde Group into independent businesses and integrating them all within the Damen Shipyards parent group.

In 2006, Mr Berkvens was appointed CEO of the Damen Shipyards Group, a position he held for the past 13 years. During that time, he has overseen a period of growth and diversification at Damen and ushered in increasing levels of standardisation in shipbuilding – which Damen believes is the key philosophy behind the group’s success.


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