Damen Shipyards Group has cut the first steel for a 34-metre long Day Cruise Vessel for Windermere Lake Cruises, located in England’s Lake District National Park. Damen and Windermere Lake Cruises have planned the vessel construction process in close consultation with local authorities and residents to minimise the impact on this protected and environmentally sensitive area, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Windermere Lake Cruises currently runs a fleet of sixteen lake cruising vessels: three traditional ‘steamers’ – each with a capacity of more than 350 passengers – as well as other traditional and modern launches. The fleet operates all year round, taking passengers on tours, day trips and evening functions on the Lake District’s largest lake, Lake Windermere. The role of the company in the local economy cannot be overstated: more than 1.6 million passenger journeys are taken every year, making Windermere Lake Cruises one the most popular attractions in the UK.
A one-off vessel
To accommodate this consistent and extensive growth in visitor numbers, and enhance the sustainable transport offering on Windermere, Bill Bewley, Chairman Windermere Lake Cruises explains that the company felt that it was time to increase the size of the fleet. Assisted by James Fisher PLC, Windermere Lake Cruises first approached UK-based shipyards. “However, it soon became clear in the procurement process that the shipyard with the depth of experience to undertake this project, within the cost and timescale requirements, was Damen,” he adds.
The resulting design and construction contract with Damen detailed numerous specifications relating to the rather extraordinary inland location of Lake Windermere.
Looking the part
In terms of design, says Damen Jan van Ooijen, Design & Proposal Engineer Ferries, it was important that this new ‘one-of-a-kind’ vessel not only matches the looks of the existing fleet and heritage of this area, but also stands out as being a technologically modern lake cruising vessel. “This diesel-electric vessel – to be named Swift – will have four-star comfort seating capacity for 300 passengers,” he says. “It will be fully accessible by wheelchair and the top deck can be opened or closed, depending on what the weather decides.”
Building for a (protected) inland location
The fact that the Swift will operate in an inaccessible inland location and that the Lake District is a UK National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site means that Damen will combine two of its shipbuilding methods to ensure maximum possible care and respect for the local environment.
“Building a ship is typically a very noisy process, so it is obviously not possible to build this vessel from scratch on location,” comments Damen Design & Proposal Engineer Maarten Lamboo. “Therefore, to optimise the production process and limit local disturbance, we are prefabricating the hull and superstructure in sections at Damen Shipyards Kozle in Poland. And then, under the scope of Damen Technical Cooperation [DTC] – which can be briefly described as building any Damen vessel at any facility in the world – we will assemble these sections at a lakeside location next to the Lakes Aquarium and the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Steam Railway.” Once completed, Damen will transport the newly built vessel to the water by multi-wheeled vehicle, and lift it into the water for its final outfitting and trials.
“The Lake District is such a special and beautiful location – and we are so proud to be building a vessel that will sail here for generations to come,” adds Damen UK Sales Manager Arjen van Elk. “This is made possible by implementing our DTC construction methods. Building a vessel for an inland location in this way is actually unique in Europe.”