After a great display of resilience, determination and fine European craftsmanship from Dutch shipyard De Hoop, Silversea Cruises is preparing to take delivery of its new ship Silver Origin.
On March 15, 2020 – four days after the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic – the Netherlands implemented a national lockdown, and the country ground to a halt to safeguard the health of its people. Relatively isolated in Lobith, a remote corner of the Netherlands, De Hoop shipyard offered its approximately 250 employees the option to cease working.
While many were forced to return to their families or to their country of origin before borders closed, approximately 200 employees opted to continue, working tirelessly to apply their craftsmanship to Silver Origin, Silversea cruises‘ first destination specific ship.
In addition to the rigorous protocol imposed by the Dutch health authority, De Hoop’s professionals were protected by sanitary procedures developed by the shipyard. Employees underwent daily temperature checks while enhanced cleaning procedures were established in the living quarters, the crew mess and throughout Silver Origin. Furthermore strict social distancing measures were implemented, including a 1.5m separation rule and a one-way system throughout the new ship.
As a result, contact circles were reduced, meetings were cancelled and fewer people were allowed in each area of the ship. Video calls replaced face-to-face conversations, as flights were cancelled and contractors could no longer reach the yard. Necessary supplies were cut off: carpeting, loose furniture and the onboard art collection were delayed in arriving, while the closure of Italy disrupted the installation of the ship’s windows and galley. The stringent lockdown threatened the project’s progress but De Hoop pushed on. The shipyard fundamentally changed the way it operated to continue the project. None of the employees caught the virus and the team maintained an unwaveringly strong spirit as Silver Origin took its magnificent shape, symbolising the resilience and craftsmanship of European industry.
REMOTELY OPERATED SEA TRIALS
While shallow waters on the Waal River delayed Silver Origin’s float out from November to December 30, 2019, the months of January and February brought heavy rain to Western Europe in 2020, leading to unusually high water levels. This prevented Silver Origin from passing beneath the 12 bridges that separate De Hoop Shipyard from the sea. Only on March 26, more than a month later than originally planned, was a safe passage to Rotterdam accessible. This left just four weeks between arrival in Rotterdam and the sea trial.
Held from April 27th–29th off the coast of Goeree-Overflakkee, Silver Origin’s sea trials offered the Captain the chance to put the ship through its paces and enabling the shipyard to demonstrate proper operation of the machinery systems.
Silver Origin’s sea trials included a historic world-first: during the dynamic positioning acceptance test – which tests the ship’s ability to remain within 10cm of a fixed point without dropping anchor – the ship’s dynamic positioning system was remotely tuned and calibrated by a third party over 1,800km away in St. Petersburg, Russiaover. A fast internet connection was set up on board to enable near-instant communication between both parties and, using a headset and a camera, an operative from St. Petersburg completed manoeuvring tests. The ship’s Captain, meanwhile, acted as his lookout from on board.
THE FINISHING TOUCHES
The finishing touches are now being applied to Silver Origin, ahead of the ship’s delivery in the coming weeks. And the De Hoop team is still finding innovative ways to progress, in spite of the challenging circumstances. Currently docked in Pernis in the Netherlands, Silver Origin will set sail for the Galapagos Islands after being delivered to Silversea Cruises.
For a closer look on what’s to come inside Silver Origin click here.