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‘Hanson Thames’ commences operations

Hanson Thames

Second Damen MAD 3500 class dredger completes sea trials and enters service with Hanson UK

THE second vessel in Damen Shipyards Group’s new Marine Aggregate Dredger (MAD) 3500 class has now completed her sea trials. As of January 2022, Hanson Thames entered service with her owners, Hanson UK, replacing an obsolete vessel.

Launched at Damen’s Galati shipyard in Romania in September 2020, the new vessel takes advantage of major advances in marine aggregate dredging design and technology, and all the efficiencies that come with it. 


Whilst similar in size to twentieth-century equivalents, the MAD 3500 is a completely new class that is said to represent a ‘quantum leap’ ahead in terms of both the quantity of product it can carry (20% more) and its operational cost per tonne, thanks to the latest fuel-efficient propulsion systems and the ability to conduct operations while running on a single engine.

The MAD 3500 is also designed to operate 24h a day, seven days a week with just nine crew. At any one time, dredging can take place with only two personnel on the bridge plus an engineer on duty. Unloading the entire vessel can be achieved in just two to three hours and is fully automated.

With ease of maintenance designed into the vessel from the earliest stages, Damen say operability has been maximized, partly through the use of modular systems that allow faulty components to be swapped out for new ones while the defective unit is sent away for testing and repair.

This, in turn, is supported and enhanced by the use of Damen’s Triton remote-monitoring and analysis system that allows continuous optimization and pre-emptive maintenance, which is achieved using ship-wide sensors to deliver operational data to both the bridge and managers onshore for real-time analysis.

The Hanson Thames began her build at Damen Shipyards Galati at the end of 2019 and, whilst being based on the original MAD 3500 design, benefited from the experience already gained from an earlier build together some adjustments to meet her own particular operational requirements, following Damen’s ethos of combining standardization where possible with customization where required.

Key technologies on board the MAD 3500 include the modular screening tower, which allows material brought up from the seabed to be sorted as it comes aboard rather than once it reaches land. This allows the vessel to retain only the grades that are in demand while returning the rest to the seabed, making it yet more efficient and profitable.

Another key technology is the application of the Damen offshore bow, which fully encloses the foredeck, protecting equipment and cargo, as well as delivering excellent seakeeping. The mooring system also sets a new standard, being designed around flow lines to ensure safe and efficient mooring at all times, whilst the addition of telescopic spud poles allows the MAD 3500 to hold position without the use of lines or the need for constant adjustment.

To support the Hanson Thames and other Damen vessels, the shipbuilder has recently established a service hub in the Port of Southampton, allowing the company to provide full, through-life support and to act as a repository of knowledge as well as critical components for these specialized vessels. With much of the existing North Sea fleet of aggregate dredgers due to be retired soon, many of which are based in the UK, Damen say they expect the value of this resource to grow over time.


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