"The dredging works in Nieuwpoort focus on two areas", explains Ruben. "On the one hand, we keep the trench to the sea open and at depth. Twice a year we organise a maintenance campaign with a trailing suction hopper dredger. The last times we used the Pinta and the Sebastiano Caboto. On the other hand, we maintain the three marinas. We do this with the Hendrik Geeraert. This ship is very compact and therefore also very manoeuvrable. The split barges Verrazzano and Magellano are filled from a loading pontoon. On an annual basis we dredge in Nieuwpoort for a dozen weeks, from October to spring.
JDN won the contract for the maintenance dredging work by, among other things, taking ambitious measures to reduce CO2 emissions. We are going to reduce CO2 emissions by 15%. A first in Belgium and a fine example of sustainability. To realise these plans, we filled the Verrazzano and Magellano with 100% renewable fuel. The launch of the ecological site office also contributes to the achievement of these objectives. JDN's first eco shed is located in Nieuwpoort. With these measures we will certainly achieve the 15% reduction. "In our pioneering role, we are also urging governments to give environmental impact an important quality score in tenders", says Ruben. "A good example of this can now be seen in recent tenders in the Netherlands, where ambitious environmental objectives are being translated into virtual discounts on the tender price."
Success depends on the crew
The dredging works in Nieuwpoort are carried out by a small team. For example, only three crew members work on the Hendrik Geeraert. "Nevertheless, a lot of work is being done", says Ruben. "Some days we fill as many as twelve ships. With such a small team we have to be able to rely on each other's qualities. And we can do that here with a lot of confidence." The crew itself confirms wholeheartedly. "On a smaller ship, you can achieve more. You are completely dependent on each other", says Fokke, the flat-bottomed boat skipper. Cutter skipper Jeroen Verreyt points out the technical skills his crew has to demonstrate: "Here we still dredge manually. You have to be able to perform a lot of actions at the same time. In the beginning it's about finding the right lever or button, but once you've mastered it, it goes smoothly."
According to Ruben, the technical skills of the crew are also decisive on board the two split barges and trailing hoppers. "We turn with ships that are up to 93 metres long where the channel is only 100 metres wide. We do this in challenging weather conditions and flow rates. Yacht traffic and the construction works in the fairway are also challenging. This requires technical skill, a lot of concentration and nerves of steel.”