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Damen Marine Components laat de Ro-Ver manoeuvreren

Damen Marine Components lets the Ro-Ver manoeuvre “The steering is fantastic”

05 March 2021

Jan Jansen has now been sailing the Rhine with his new motor tanker Ro-Ver for over a year. For the first time, he has had a new-build vessel equipped with a complete manoeuvring system from Damen Marine Components (DMC) and he notices this every day. “The difference is very noticeable.”

If you spend whole days in the wheelhouse, en route on the Rhine between the Netherlands and Switzerland for the transport of mineral oils, then it is important to have a steering system with smooth steering behaviour. Jan Jansen, founder and owner of Jansen Tankvaart in Lobith, has achieved this in his Ro-Ver, built in 2019. “The ship manoeuvres very well, it almost completely turns around in its place without moving ahead”, he explains. “That means you have a very good rudder system.”

Jansen collaborated with many different suppliers for the new construction of the Ro-Ver, his sixth ship. The manoeuvring system was supplied by Damen Marine Components: two Van der Velden® HD rudders, a Van der Velden® 2DWK steering system and an SP2700 control system.

Quite exciting, because he had no experience with that himself. He has now been able to use the systems extensively in practice and talks about them with infectious enthusiasm. “The difference with previous systems is very noticeable. I’m more than satisfied with it and I don’t mind saying it, because you know, credit where credit’s due.”


The Ro-Ver (named after his daughters Róbin and Vera) excels in manoeuvrability, according to Jansen. “With little rudder deflection, the ship reacts quickly, without having to turn my rudders transversely under the ship, to put it that way. The steering is fantastic and I ultimately save fuel, while maintaining my speed.”

This didn’t come as a complete surprise, because Jansen was already familiar with other ships with the same type of hull as the 110 metre-long and 11.40 metre-wide Ro-Ver. “Those ships respond very well with this rudder system. That was the deciding factor for me.”

Cor de Wit, Service Sales Manager of Damen Marine Components in Hardinxveld-Giessendam, agrees. We have very good experiences with the HD rudders we installed on these ships”, he says. “They’re good sailing ships anyway, and with full-profile rudders underneath, manoeuvrability is enormous. The bottom line is that you rarely need a steering correction, apart from the steering corrections that are necessary because the river is never completely straight, and the wind you’re dealing with.”

If you want to feel such a steering correction, you almost have to put your hand on the cylinder, he says. “That little bit of correction gives so much steering force, so much lifting force, you can see the head of the ship going with only half a degree of steering command. That’s how little rudder change you need.”

A rudder correction normally stops the ship, which consumes fuel. With a well-running ship with good rudders underneath, that problem is solved. The rudders are not continuously steering to keep the ship on course. Cor de Wit: “This ship makes you realise you can go right through the bend, so to speak, and turn the ship around on the Rhine where you wouldn’t even THINK of doing that before. The lifting force of the rudders is enormous. A captain like Jan, a real expert, notices this immediately. At the end of the trip, you also notice that you’re better off in terms of fuel consumption and still have maintained your speed, because you had to steer so little.”

Ease of use

In addition to increased manoeuvrability and steering performance, Jan Jansen is also pleased with the ease of use. “Switching to emergency rudders, switching on additional pumps, it all works perfectly. Everything is also easy to explain to others when they have to sail the ship, it’s far from complicated.”

He himself also benefited from the explanation given by Damen Marine Components. “It was pleasant working with Cor de Wit and Leo van Zon, true inland shipping people with a great deal of knowledge and experience. They had plenty of time for me and if there was anything I didn’t understand, they didn’t mind me asking twice more. They just explained it to me again.”

“All agreements have also been fulfilled. No postponements of one week here, a couple of weeks there, just on schedule. And I can still call them if I have any questions. Recently, I wanted to know something about changing filters. One call to Cor and it’s immediately clear.”

Thinking along with the customer is standard practice at Damen Marine Components, says Cor de Wit. “We always start with the most important question: what’s your sailing profile? What do you want with the ship, what’s your sailing area? Based on that, we issue advice. In this case, the HD rudders because we already know from previous experiences with sister ships of this hull that the combination of HD rudders and this hull entails many pros. During a presentation, we showed Jan the difference between HD rudders and other rudders. With the emphasis on the high rudder coefficient, in other words the large lifting force.”

A tanker that is 110 metres long and 11.40 metres wide normally has screws with a diameter of 1700 or 1750 millimetres. “This type of hull is deliberately designed with a larger screw diameter of 1800 millimetres, which in combination with the hull gives you exactly the right result. Add the large engine to that, because Jan wanted a 1700-hp engine, and you have just the ship he was looking for.”

Jan Jansen’s new Ro-Ver will keep him going for the time being. Should he be ready for a new-build ship again in a couple of years, he’ll take the experiences of the past project with him. “And that means we could very well be working with Damen Marine Components again. Don’t change a winning formula.”