The GDD Group’s rebuilding, maintenance and repair specialists can take stock of a positive year 2017. From routine work to short-term trouble shooting for customers to large-scale projects, they once again demonstrated the full range of their skills.
Old and new customers were impressed with the performance, varied orders were carried out routinely and cost-consciously, large projects were successfully mastered and acute emergencies were responded to quickly – the year 2017 did not only bring the GDD Group a lot of work but above all also a large number of successes. One of the best-known large-scale projects is the world’s first and much-noticed conversion of a container ship to the environmentally friendly LNG operation. „In addition, we have mastered a variety of other projects that may not have been perceived by the public but have led to the same result: satisfied customers,” says Detlef Nünke, head of the GDD project department.
From the container terminal directly to the dock
Class-, maintenance and repair work are the bread-and-butter business of any repair and conversion yard. But even these almost routine jobs included some special aspects for the GDD Group in 2017. For example, the American subsidiary of the Hamburg container shipping company Hapag Lloyd sent three of its cargo ships to Bremerhaven for class work. From April to early July, the “Charleston Express”, the “St. Louis Express” as well as the” Yorktown Express“ docked in the Kaiserhafen, each following a regular call at the Bremerhaven container terminal. “Of course, it is a decisive advantage for the shipping company that they can send their ships directly to the dock after unloading,” emphasizes Nünke.
In 2017, the GDD Group once again demonstrated the importance of a quickly accessible and flexible repair and conversion yard for the maritime industry and the coastal region. Following the dramatic stranding of the bulker “Glory Amsterdam” off Langeoog and the collision of the bulk carrier “Mount Hope” with a quay at the port of Brake, the GDD Group quickly provided the shipping companies with repair capacities. “These possibilities are indispensable for the maritime location Germany”, Detlef Nünke is convinced. Without the swift assistance of the GDD Group, both casualties would have had to be towed abroad on one of the world’s busiest sea routes, bordering the sensitive Wadden Sea – a nightmare for all institutions that must ensure the safety of shipping and the protection of the environment.
The German Navy – a demanding and satisfied major customer
In addition to the US subsidiary of Hapag Lloyd, the German Navy is one of the major customers appreciating the service at the Weser estuary. In the past 12 months, the GDD Group handled a total of five major orders for the gray federal fleet. The GDD specialists demonstrated their flexibility yet again: The repair of the fuel transporter “Spessart” was carried out in Bremerhaven. The repair of the frigate “Hamburg” was performed in the naval arsenal of Wilhelmshaven. The frigate “Bayern” was docked on behalf of the Jade shipyard in Bremerhaven; the Corvette “Erfurt” remained four months in the GDD dock in Kaiserhafen. The frigate “Bayern” was docked on behalf of the Jade shipyard in Bremerhaven; the Corvette “Erfurt” remained in the GDD dock in Kaiserhafen for four months. The orders of the German Navy represent a special recognition for the GDD team: “The Navy is a very demanding customer; the orders are coveted in the industry. You can only hold your ground with the right combination of very good performance and exact calculation,” explains the head of the GDD project department.
Cost awareness and transparency are important factors for the GDD Group. Each order is precisely calculated and prepared in detail with the customer, so that it does not come to expensive surprises in the course of the work or after its conclusion: “The customers can rely on us and our performance,” emphasizes Nünke. This also applies to the indirect costs – for the efficiency of a ship, it is crucial, among other things, that downtimes for shipyard stays are as short as possible and precisely plannable: “Adherence to schedules and reliability are very, very important to us,” underlines the GDD project expert.
New customers won over through cost awareness and adherence to schedules
Word of this commitment gets around in international shipping circles – and always brings new customers to Bremerhaven. One of the new “guests” in the GDD docks in 2017 included the car transporter “Freedom”. The ship, which was built in 1997 and has a length of 190 meters, flies the American flag and was at GDD for class work for 17 days. The most unusual new orders in 2017 included the repair and enlargement of a sluice gate in Bremen-Oslebshausen. Secured by a floating crane, the 840-ton gate was towed downriver to Bremerhaven and set ashore in front of the former Weserwind hall in the Fischereihafen. It is the first of three gates, which has been an accordingly repaired and undergone reconstruction measures for flood protection. “Such an assignment is certainly unusual, but it shows the range of our possibilities,” says Nünke.
The GDD team used the entire spectrum of its capabilities to convert the container ship WES Amelie to the environmentally friendly LNG propulsion. This project was a highly regarded pilot project that was even supported by the federal government with a subsidy. The close cooperation with the shipping company Wessels, which is very involved in environmental issues, is now bearing fruit: Wessels has signed a letter of intent with GDD to have at least three other identical ships converted to LNG.
New Year starts with major project
Prior to that, however, GDD will be dealing with a large-scale project in 2018, which will place particularly high demands on the shipyard. At the beginning of the year, the Baltic Sea ferry “Peter Pan” of the TT-Line shipping company is to be extended by 30 meters to 220 meters. This increases the economic efficiency and improves the environmental balance of the ship, built in Bremerhaven in 2001, as in the future more passengers and vehicles can be transported with the same fuel consumption. GDD thus continues the tradition of the conversion specialists in the Kaiserhafen that already made a name for themselves with spectacular conversions during the years of MWB AG. Building on this experience, GDD was able to present a conclusive concept to the TT-Line, with which the Bremerhavians prevailed against international competitors. This project as well as further projects allows the whole GDD team to be optimistic for the new year. “Many signs indicate that 2018 will again be as successful as 2017, “ Nünke is convinced.