The roots of
A magazine of ROG | July 2019
Back to the roots A new building – on a site that is steeped in history. As Rotterdam Offshore Group, we have come full circle. From Rotterdam’s Waalhaven we are ready to take on any maritime and offshore challenge the future may bring. Our location strikes the right balance between old and new values: a balance that is actually characteristic of our company overall. In Waalhaven, we have found our natural home; our future lies in the roots of Pier 4. Our shipyard has a direct connection with the North Sea. The first ocean-going vessels from distant shores docked at Waalhaven’s quays over a century ago. Because work on the excavation of the world’s largest port basin started as early as 1907. And Waalhaven is unique to this day – a thriving corner of the world port of Rotterdam! Our move to a brand new office formed the perfect occasion to dive into the rich history of this port area. Because while our future depends on innovation, this future also has roots in the past. Exploring Pier 4’s maritime origins, we uncovered all sorts of interesting facts. A mass of interesting stories and wonderful images, which we like to share with you. This special ROG Magazine and the striking visuals found throughout our new offices are the result. I hope that you will enjoy reading this magazine as much as we enjoyed making it! Martin van Leest Managing Director ROG
This is a magazine of ROG | July 2019
Content World port Rotterdam
ROG-director Martin van Leest about his roots
Waalhaven: the largest excavated port basin in the world
Home at Pier 4
Royal IHC-director Diederik van Rijn looks forward to the future
Working at ROG
Surrounded by ships
No mountain is too hight for Allseas
RollDock Fleet Director Edwin van Maldegem on the value of flexibility 58 A highly committed team
10 Business Services of ROG
The shipyard ROG Ship Repair
Thanks to: Cook Serdijn, Leo Baks (Ship Repair Rotterdam), Edwin van Maldegem (RollDock), Diederik van Rijn (Royal IHC), Nico Alsemgeest (Alsemgeest Design & Build), Ferry Scholten (ROG), Michiel den Ouden (ROG), Martin van Leest (ROG), Irene Jacobs (Curator Maritiem Museum Rotterdam), Jeroen ter Brugge (Curator Maritime Collections Rijksmuseum) and Stichting Historisch Charlois. PHOTOGRAPHY: Maritiem Museum Rotterdam: 7, 20, 21, 22, 27, 37, 38, 42, 43, 44 en 46 Stichting Historisch Charlois: 21, 24, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 36, 40 en 42 Stadsarchief Rotterdam: 4, 8 en 12 Collectie Spaarnestad: 3 en 28 Havenbedrijf Rotterdam (Aeroview): 14 Nationaal Archief: 13 Nationaal Bagger Museum: 6 ROG: 2, 18, 48, 56, 59, 61 en 62 Olivier van Diet: 54 RollDock: 58, 59 en 60 Royal IHC: 52 en 53 Leo Baks: 34 Martin van Leest: 16 en 17 FreeLans: 35, 47, 50, 55, 56 en 59 PRINTING: Juist! Druk & Print, Schiedam TRANSLATION: Business Translation Services TEXT & DESIGN: FreeLans B.V., Schiedam
World port Rotterdam Home to an array of shipyards
View of Rotterdam from the south in 1848.
For almost 50 years, Rotterdam was the largest port in the world! Although it had to surrender this title to Shanghai in 2004, Rotterdam remains one of the top-10 ports worldwide, as well as Europe’s largest sea port. And ROG is located in the heart of this world-class hub. In an area that for decades was home to an array of famous shipyards. For centuries, people travelled from far and wide to the Dutch ports to study local shipbuilding techniques. The history of the port of Rotterdam goes back to around 1250, when a dam was erected in the estuary of the river Rotte. This barrier prevented the river from becoming brackish due to the influx of seawater. And it also formed a good location from transferring cargo from riverboats to ships travelling along the North Sea coast. It took until the 16th century before Rotterdam undertook its first port expansion. The new basins of Scheepsmakershaven, Leuvehaven, Wijnhaven, Glashaven, Bierhaven, Haringvliet and Blaak were excavated in the area where the Rotte emptied into Oude Haven. Zalmhaven was mainly intended for the wood trade and shipbuilding. These new port basins quickly filled with ships, and visitors to Rotterdam described the city as a ‘forest of masts’!
The new basins of Scheepsmakershaven, Leuvehaven, Wijnhaven, Glashaven, Bierhaven, Haringvliet and Blaak were excavated in the area where the Rotte emptied into Oude Haven. 05
Nieuwe Waterweg After this, it took until the mid-1800s before new basins were added to the port. But everything changed when Rotterdam gained an open connection with the North Sea, in the shape of a deep, new fairway: the Nieuwe Waterweg. The city was soon dotted with new shipyards. After opening in 1872, Nieuwe Waterweg was further deepened in 1886. In 1895, the port found a solution for the gradual siltation affecting the fairway. Access to the port area was no longer a limiting factor. Recognising the portâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s potential economic value, the municipality of Rotterdam ordered the realisation of new basins: Rijnhaven in 1895 and Maashaven a decade later, in 1905. And a year later, dredgers already started on the new basin of Lekhaven in the polders of Courzand and Hoogenoord. Even while this work was underway, there was a change of plans. Rotterdam had to make room for even more shipping! The city governors wanted to realise a huge new port, which could offer ample room for relaying cargo from one ship to another. This massive port would be named Waalhaven. Further expansion The port of Rotterdam grew busier with every year, in other words. Between 1900 and 1910, the number of large ships with a draught between 8 and 9 metres increased from 7 to 97 vessels. In 1907, the construction of Waalhaven entered its first phase, and the new port basin welcomed its first sea-going vessel a year later. Work on enlarging Waalhaven continued unabated until the early years of the First World War. After a forced hiatus on account of the War, activities picked up again in the 1920s. By this time, Rotterdam had developed into a transit port: Waalhaven was mainly used for the large-scale handling of bulk cargo like coal, ore and cereals.
From top to bottom: Sealing of the river Scheur by applying a staple mat to an embankment during the construction of the Nieuwe Waterweg. Dredging the IJsselhaven.
Stevedoring company Thomsen & Co. placed the first gantry cranes in the port of Rotterdam in 1912.
Modernisation Modernisation of the port continued in the difficult years between the two world wars. The â&#x20AC;&#x2122;20s and â&#x20AC;&#x2122;30s saw the introduction of increasingly sophisticated machines and devices, which enabled a high volume of cargo to be processed in a short period of time. Steam-powered cranes were replaced with electric cranes as early as 1912, and the port gained its first high-capacity gantry cranes for bulk cargo like coal, ore and wheat.
A spanner in the works The Great Crash of 1929 put a damper on this growth and development. Trade between Europe and the other continents slowed to a trickle, and the port of Rotterdam received significantly less break bulk. This decline in shipping led to thinner order books for the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s shipbuilders, and slim pickings for local repair yards. Despite the economic downturn, work on Merwehaven, which had started in 1923, continued. The new port basin, which was intended to accommodate break bulk handling, was
completed in 1930. Work on Waalhaven, which was realised in phases, was rounded off in 1931. At the time, the celebrations were rather low key in acknowledgment of the economic malaise. Eemhaven, the first plans for which date back as far as 1913, was only taken into operation in 1946. Nevertheless, the port of Rotterdamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s importance for the Dutch economy steadily increased. In 1932, the municipal government decided to establish a dedicated Port Authority (Gemeentelijk Havenbedrijf), which could keep the numerous developments in and around the port on the right track.
Sketch map of the Rotterdam ports and the to-be-excavated Waalhaven from 1907.
Post-war reconstruction and scale-up In 1940, Rotterdam fell into the hands of the German occupying forces. The port was used as a navy base, which also made it a regular target of Allied bombing raids. While the port’s workforce continued as best it could between 1940 and 1945, these years left a huge mark on Rotterdam. Shortly after the war, everyone put their shoulder to the wheel to rebuild the port. The port was assigned top priority in the reconstruction years, and this meant that its facilities were not only rebuilt, but also modernised – allowing even larger ships with even more cargo to call on Rotterdam. The layout of the port sites was also improved in the post-war period, and there were new plans to separate the city from the port area altogether. The planners wanted to achieve this by realising new port basins in the area between Rotterdam and the North Sea. The first concrete proposal, the Botlek Plan, was submitted in 1947. The municipality expected this new area on Oude Maas to satisfy the demand for new space over the next 15 years. The plans for Botlek already took larger tanker vessels into account: with a capacity of 65,000 tonnes and a draught of 12 metres. Innovations were the order of the day. While in the early 1940s, regular tankers still had a capacity of around 16,000 tonnes, in the post-war years, they had been overtaken by 30,000-tonnes vessels. The realisation of Botlek was delayed for a considerable time by issues with the construction of Botlekbrug, the new bridge that would allow road users to access the area. The first companies only started setting up in the new port area in the summer of 1955.
Immersion of Maastunnel The construction of Maastunnel, started on 15 June 1937, was a logical solution for the increase in road traffic in Rotterdam. After all, a second bridge next to Willemsbrug would form too much of an obstacle for shipping. Still, Maastunnel remained a very ambitious undertaking! Submerged some 20 metres below the water’s surface, the tunnel was not only a Dutch first but also the longest of its kind in Europe! The German occupation notwithstanding, work on the project was rounded off on 14 February 1942. The tunnel sections were finished in Waalhaven. The gigantic pontoons that were used to keep the sections afloat as they were transported along Nieuwe Maas, were also stored there. What’s more: Waalhaven served as the test location for a trial submersion of a tunnel section in 1939. In this spectacular photo, a tunnel section supported by four floating sheerlegs is being slowly lowered to the bottom of the Waalhaven basin.
The first tunnel section disappears completely during a submersion trial in the Waalhaven.
Worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest port Botlek, which was completed in 1960, was swiftly followed by a new development: Europoort. This new port and industrial area was developed on the island of Rozenburg, to the south of Nieuwe Waterweg and to the west of Botlek, between 1958 and 1964. Over the years, this port area and Botlek would grow to become one of the largest clusters of petrochemical industry in the world. These new ports were not only suited for container vessels, but also for the latest oil tankers, which continued to grow with each new decade. The city of Rotterdam did everything it could to accommodate its port. This support allowed local companies to become leading players in The Swedish tanker TosterĂś enters the port of Rotterdam as the 25,000th ocean-going vessel in December 1962.
their industries, and by 1962 Rotterdam ranked as the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest port.
Port strike of 1970 ‘In Rotterdam, the entire world goes through your hands.’ This is one of the advertising slogans used to attract new workers to the city. By the late 1960s, the port was stretched to its limits: there were jobs in abundance, and not enough workers to go round. This created some weird situations. So-called subcontractors scraped together labourers from all over and hired them out for a tidy sum. But in many cases, these relatively expensive extra hands were not very skilled. Quite a few of them came from a completely different background: they had been trained as a baker or clerk, for example. Employers also used the subcontractors to sidestep CLA provisions – to the anger of the regular workforce. The ‘new recruits’ were paid up to 50 guilders net more than the regular, skilled labourers, who in some cases had been working in the port of Rotterdam for generations. On Friday afternoon, 28 August 1970, over 10,000 dockworkers in Rotterdam laid down their tools – the start of a wildcat strike that would last almost three weeks. The employers and the unions eventually made new agreements, which amounted to a 37 guilder increase in the workers’ weekly wage and a one-time payment of 200 guilders. This amount, roughly equivalent to a month’s pay, was enough to end the work stoppage.
On Friday 2 September 1970 port workers demonstrated in Rotterdam.
Aerial view of the Maasvlakte in 2018. 14
Global problems The completion of Maasvlakte in the early 1970s ended port expansion activities for the time being. After years of economic growth, the 1973 oil crisis sparked off a period of recession. Rotterdam also felt the effects of stagnating international trade. There was a decline in demand for oil, chemical and steel products, and the Rotterdam shipyards saw a strong drop-off in the number of new commissions. In addition, they found it hard to compete against foreign rivals, and they were only able to keep their heads above water thanks to government subsidies. A number of time-honoured family firms disappeared due to mergers. The world was changing, and people were starting to see issues like the environment and safety in a new light. The growing awareness that the port had to become cleaner and safer was also evidenced by the establishment in 1972 of the Rijnmond Environmental Protection Agency (DCMR). Even bigger than before In the late 20th century, Rotterdam’s municipal administration and various port authorities decided to realise a Second Maasvlakte in the North Sea. In 2001, the Netherlands’ coalition government made a decision in principle to construct this new port area. At the time, the project was expected to cost 6 to 7 billion euros. Nevertheless, the events of 2000 and 2001 did give the port administrators some cause for unease. In that period, container throughput in Rotterdam fell by over 1% – a marked contrast with the increases of around 10% chalked up elsewhere in Europe and Asia. What is more: the port did record an increase in bulk throughput – to a record high even. One of the largest shipping companies, Maersk-Sealand Benelux, which could be counted on for some 5% of Rotterdam’s annual container throughput (roughly equivalent to 300,000 containers), withdrew from the Dutch port, rerouting to Bremerhaven. Eventually the tide turned: port activities recovered in 2004, and Rotterdam once again recorded a record throughput. Still, Rotterdam was overtaken by Shanghai in this period as the world’s largest port. The first phase of the Second Maasvlakte was taken into use in 2013. By 2035, each of the sites of this 1,000-ha port and industrial area will be fully operational. Thanks to this land reclamation, Rotterdam’s port area will ultimately grow by 20 percent, and the port’s handling capacity will increase by some 17 million containers per year. Providing employment to close to 400,000 people, Rotterdam is and remains one of the most important ports in the world!
Managing director ROG Martin van Leest:
“Ship repair is my way of life.”
Martin van Leest grew up on his parents’ shipyard. His grandfather on his mother’s side was a farmer, while grandfather Van Leest worked as a shipbroker’s clerk. In this entrepreneurial environment, Martin developed a strong interest in business – and a passion for ships. As the founder and co-owner of ROG, Martin feels in his element in Rotterdam’s Waalhaven.
Martin van Leest (standing on the right) at the Tosmare shipyard in Latvia (picture right). The Schottel shipyard in Warmond (picture left).
“As a boarding clerk, my grand-
by ships. He had his heart set on ship-
realised what I was interested in
father formed the link between ship
building, but due to the recession, he
and having obtained that experience,
and shore. He used a rope ladder
chose to get a degree in mechanical
I joined Wilton-Fijenoord three years
to board the vessels! Which is still
engineering in Haarlem instead. Like
later, where I learned the tricks of
the same. My father followed in his
his brother Gert-Jan, Martin started
the trade. In the years that followed,
footsteps – working in the maritime
working for his father at the shipyard.
I specialised in ship propulsion at
world. He worked as a ship’s architect,
Nevertheless, Martin eventually moved
the company Machine Support,”
engineer and finally as director for
away from Van Leest Scheepsbouw.
is how Martin sums up his prior
Schottel Scheepsbouw in Warmond,
“Since three captains on one ship is
where they mainly built patrol boats,”
too many, I decided to leave the
remembers Martin van Leest. “In
family business and set to work for
1989 my father had the opportunity
the Van Giessen de Noord shipyard.
to buy the Schottel shipyard. My
I started as Assistant Project Leader.
parents moved to the shipyard at
I was deployed to the Tosmare
Warmond, which was soon renamed
shipyard in Latvia within a year. For
Van Leest Scheepsbouw.”
Van Giessen de Noord I also did the guarantee dockings, too, and
realised that I was more interested
Martin and his brothers Gert-Jan
in the technical aspects of repairs
and Kees-Jan grew up surrounded
than in newly built ships. So having
Martin and his brothers Gert-Jan and Kees-Jan grew up surrounded by ships.
At home in Rotterdam
the maritime and offshore world,
In the summer of 2013, Martin rented a beautiful, 14,000-mÂ˛ shipyard and out his services to Serdijn Ship Repair, jetties that could accommodate with the intention of ultimately taking vessels of up to 190 metres in length, over the shipyard. This deal was Martin was ready to take on the future finalised in April of 2014. He did in with pride from Pier 4 in Waalhaven. association with Zwagerman Offshore And while the new group may Services. They joined forces under not have started under the most the name of Rotterdam Offshore favourable economic conditions, ROG Group. With decades of expertise in quickly became a success. As early
In 2017 ROG extended its quay from 200 to 320 metres, as well as expanding the site from 14,000 to 21,700 mÂ˛. 18
as 2017, ROG decided to extend its its clients with even better service. of Rotterdam. From here, he flies to quay from 200 to 320 metres, as well And ROG director Van Leest also Hong Kong, Cyprus, India, Singapore as expanding the site from 14,000 to saw a number of advantages in a and other maritime hotspots around 21,700 m². “Our money is made out partnership in Royal IHC. “Together, the world. Ship repair is his passion. on the water. So the quay extension we can handle even more complex “It’s in my genes. Ship repair is my was a welcome development,” is projects!” In early 2019, Zwagerman way of life...” concludes Martin, as how Martin evaluates the various Offshore Services was bought out. he stands in his brand new office developments. In the autumn of 2017, ROG is ready for whatever the future on Waalhaven, looking out over shipbuilder Royal IHC took a 50% may bring. And Martin van Leest has the bustling activity of World Port interest in ROG, in order to provide found his natural home, in the port Rotterdam.
Specialists at work In the early 20th century, a lot of the work in the port was still done by hand. Each port hand specialised in one job or the other. The pictures show a crew member at the engine control station, dockers loading a ship, dockworkers buttressing and shoring a ship, a diver, a cooper at work while tonnes are being unloaded in the background, and a welder.
A shaft being subjecting to a ‘blue fit’ (picture left). Change of the port propeller of MS Willem Ruys in 1949 (photo below).
Prop & shaft Always an impressive sight: a ship’s propeller and drive shaft. Although insiders tend to leave it at ‘prop & shaft’. Ships have relied on this ingenious propulsion system for many decades. Equally imposing are the photos of propellers and drive shafts being constructed or repaired at the dock or in a workshop.
One way or other Removing or installing a shaft is hard work, and occasionally called for some improvising! Some 100 years ago, they fastened or loosened the propeller with pegs, which they hit in place with a 12-kg sledgehammer nicknamed a zuurbrood, or ‘sourdough loaf’. If even the sledgehammer didn’t do the trick, the workers would build a kind of trough out of steel plates around the propeller. They would fill it with scrap wood and lots of petroleum, which were then lit. The flames would sometimes be higher than the ship itself! Still, the end result was always the same: once the propeller hub had heated up, it would pop loose with a loud bang!
Broken propellers in the dead of winter There were a lot of propeller repairs in the winter of 1939-1940. That year, temperatures were so low that many inland vessels broke their propellers on the heavy river ice. At Waalhaven, they decided on an ‘ice sweeping’ experiment. The Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad of 27 January 1940 reported on the Port Service’s second attempt: ‘This time round, a beam was suspended between two tugs, and another, diagonal beam was attached to the side of each vessel, with the stern acting as support. This allowed the convoy to force a large volume of ice towards the river.’
Waalhaven: the largest
Aerial view of the Waalhaven in the 50s.
excavated port basin in the world Waalhaven was created more than 100 years ago by digging up the polders of Robbenoord and Plompert to the south of Nieuwe Maas. Covering a surface area of no fewer than 310 ha, it remains the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest excavated port basin to this day. Over the past century, this unique port area, which has a direct connection with the North Sea, served as the setting for all sorts of new developments. It is not only the cradle of various world-renowned maritime firms; it is also a key location in the history of Dutch aviation.
The municipality announced its intention to realise Waalhaven all the way back in 1904, as can be read in the 4 May edition of local daily De Peel- en Kemperbode. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;There are plans to dig a new port basin at the sites behind the petroleum warehouses at Charlois, which will be named Waalhaven,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; writes the newspaper. However, it would take another three years before this decision was adopted by the council! The official decision was taken on 13 June 1907, after which the municipality proceeded to expropriate the polders of Robbenoord and Plompert. Digging started that same year, and on 15 July 1908, the first sea-going vessel was able to dock at the new port.
‘There are plans to dig a new port basin at the sites behind the petroleum warehouses at Charlois, which will be named Waalhaven.’
Grow and innovate The port of Rotterdam continued to grow and innovate. For example, from 1912 on, the old steam-powered cranes were replaced by a growing number of electric cranes. And the appearance of the port’s quays changed as a result. The landscape changed even further with the arrival of gantry cranes. Rather than being relayed out on the water, a growing volume of cargo was handled ship to shore. This meant that the bulk sector required more quay space than before – and Waalhaven could cater to this need! Because the second phase of the excavation of Waalhaven had already started in 1910. Two years later, this had yielded a useful water body of 52 ha, of which 44 ha had a local depth of no less than 8.5 metres. The new berths could accommodate 18 sea-going vessels. And the Waalhaven piers provided room for the new gantry cranes.
Photos left from top to bottom: Digging the Waalhaven, Robbenoord polder and a farmhouse on the Robbenoordsevliet that was demolished in 1909 for the construction of the Waalhaven.
Bulk cargo As of 13 November 1912, the temporary embankments around Waalhaven were sturdy enough to order the ‘dredging through’ of the old dykes. The project proceeded promptly into the first years of the war, but was completely suspended between 1916 and 1919. After the war, Waalhaven was further expanded during a succession of phases. The final phase was rounded off in 1931: Waalhaven was completed. And after nearly a quarter century of construction, with a total surface area of 310 ha, it ranked as the world’s largest excavated port basin!
The first water flows into the expanded Waalhaven. National Archive/Collection Spaarnestad/‘Het Leven’/Photographer unknown
Depression beach Work on Waalhaven had just been rounded off. And some areas – which recently were home to grazing cattle – had now been transformed into a beach of all things. Due to the Great Depression, some of the newly constructed piers didn’t find any takers, so they had been repurposed as beaches instead. During the hot summers of the early 1930s, Rotterdammers flocked to the sand-covered piers to pitch their tents and do a spot of pierebaaien (‘pier bathing’).
Waalhaven Airport The completion of Waalhaven made Rotterdam even more attractive as a transit port for cargo destined for the European hinterland. Waalhaven mainly accommodated the handling of bulk cargo like coal, ore and cereals. After arriving in Waalhaven, this cargo was transferred to inland vessels and rail and forwarded to its destination. The realisation of Waalhaven did not just allow Rotterdam’s port industry to break new ground; the area also played a pioneering role in the Netherlands’ fledgling aviation industry. The soil that became available during the excavation of Waalhaven’s port basin was used to construct an airport to the south of the port area. The first airmail carrier from London landed at Waalhaven Airport as early as 26 July 1920! This was quite an event, because aviation was still at a very early stage in the Netherlands. The Netherlands’ first air freight also departed from Waalhaven – in June 1924 – and two years later, several businessmen founded the Rotterdamsche Aeroclub (RAC) and the Nationale Luchtvaartschool N.V. Apart from being home to the country’s first aviation club, Waalhaven was also the home base of the aircraft manufacturers Nationale Vliegtuig Industrie and, later, Koolhoven. After work on Waalhaven had been rounded off in the early 1930s, the airport developed into an important hub for air traffic between Rotterdam, London and Paris.
Waalhaven land and water airport in 1927.
Special guests In the 1930s, the zeppelin was still thought to have a bright future. It could be used to travel long distances, in a luxury and comfort that was almost on par with ocean liners. On 18 June 1932, masses of Rotterdammers came to witness the landing of the Graf Zeppelin, which called on Waalhaven
promotional tour. On 7 November 1933, Charles Lindbergh landed at Waalhaven in the company of his wife. His airplane’s tail wing had sustained light damage from the choppy weather and rough water. This was repaired on the spot. The following day, Lindbergh, who owed his fame to being the first pilot to fly nonstop from the US to Europe, left under tremendous public interest.
Most of Rotterdam was destroyed during the Second World War – including Waalhaven Airport. In the early morning of 10 May 1940, German bombers flattened most of the airport’s buildings. And later bombardments by Dutch and British planes – dropping an estimated 60 tonnes of missiles – made it more or less useless for the Germans. In addition, the landing strips were shelled for days on end by the Dutch artillery. The airfield was not rebuilt after the war – instead the site was redeveloped into the Waalhaven-Zuid industrial estate.
Frenchman Julien Levasseur gives a demonstration on the Maas with his Nieuport seaplane in 1913.
Leo Baks was born and raised in
Waalhaven in the 1950s During the Second World War, people kept working for as long as possible. And Waalhaven was no exception. However, a lot of facilities were damaged or destroyed during the war, which meant the port was in due need of repairs in the post-war period. Economic activity in Waalhaven steadily increased following post-war reconstruction. By the late 1950s, there were so many jobs to fill that Rotterdam even welcomed the first guest workers. Rotterdam developed into a world-class port, and a showcase of modern developments. Rotterdam native Leo Baks spent these years growing up in Waalhaven. He was born in a room above his grandmother’s ice-cream parlour, on the corner of Bakkerstraat and Zuidhoek. “As a child, I knew Waalhaven like the back of my hand. My favourite playgrounds included the submarine bunkers built by the Germans at Pier 2. It took until 1963 until these bunkers were torn down to make way for new sites in Waalhaven,” remembers Baks. His life has always been closely connected to the maritime industry. “My father Hans and uncle Toon owned the welding and ship’s repair company Baks & Smit. They handled all repairs from their welding boat. On Saturdays, my cousins and I were allowed to help out at the port. More than once, they asked us to tar the hull of a boat that had run aground. At the age of 14, I started working for Machinefabriek van Tol at Pier 2. I have done all sorts of ship repair activities: from apprentice turner, bench fitter, pipe fitter and welder to technical inspector.”
Already as a child, Leo Baks looks fascinated at Waalhaven.
Waalhaven. At 14, he began working for Machinefabriek van Tol (which became part of the Stork group). Starting out as an apprentice turner, Baks went on to work as a pipefitter and pipe welder. At Pier 4, he was employed
Repair, which later became part of ROG. Since 2013, Leo Baks is the owner and director of Rotterdam Ship Repair, which is also located in Waalhaven – at Pier 8.
Magnetic mines For a long time, Waalhaven’s skyline was dominated by a degaussing facility that had been erected by the Germans. Ships calling on Waalhaven were required to sail through this structure, which was over 40 metres tall. This was intended to reduce their magnetic signature so they’d have less chance of setting off magnetic mines. Since the missiles on the floor of the Waalhaven basin continued to pose a threat in the post-war years, the degaussing system remained operational for a long time after 1945. The ‘treated’ vessels were issued a certificate by the Royal Netherlands Navy that remained valid for eight months.
The photo above shows the demagnetizer at Pier 8. On the right the loading of a container loaded onto a truck.
A new era Business was booming for shipyards like Van Brink at Pier 8 and Scheepswerf en Machinefabriek Waalhaven at Pier 4. As it was for stevedoring firms like Cornelis Swarttouw at Pier 6. However, the rise of container transport in Rotterdam from 1965 on would change the port landscape for good. These containers also found their way to Waalhaven, which called for a few adjustments. While local water was deep enough for the giant sea-going vessels, the port’s piers didn’t offer enough room for handling. After Maasvlakte’s completion in the early 1970s, several of the terminal operators moved from Waalhaven to locations beyond Rotterdam’s city limits. The sites that became available due to this trend were soon occupied by companies from other ports or by local Waalhaven players that wanted to expand their premises.
Decades of maritime activities Between 1985 and 2005, a variety of infrastructure, economic and social projects were undertaken to revitalise the breakbulk segment at Waalhaven, which had become obsolete over time. For example, in the late 1980s, they filled in the port basin between Pier 5 and Pier 6. This expanded the available commercial space by another 24 ha, leading the stevedoring firm Unicentre to relocate a share of its activities from Heijplaat to Waalhaven. However, after the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s merger with ECT in 1995, a lot of the container storage capacity offered by Unicentre and other container companies was moved from Waalhaven to Eemshaven and Maasvlakte. This once again freed up space at Waalhaven. Another new development was the widening of the Waalhaven port basin in 2003, to give container vessels with a maximum capacity of 6,000 TEU and a maximum length of 300 metres sufficient room to manoeuvre. The deepsea container ships were redirected to Maasvlakte, while the Waalhaven area was re-adapted to the shortsea segment. Over the past 50 years, Baks witnessed one change after the other on the quays and waters of Waalhaven: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;There used to be far more rail traffic, for the transfer of bulk cargo. The area was filled with cranes! In the final two decades of the 20th century,
Containerterminal Unitcentre located on Pier 7 in 1974.
you could see a big increase in container handling. These companies subsequently moved to Maasvlakte. By the beginning of this century, Waalhaven had changed dramatically. When Serdijn Ship Repair set up at Pier 4 in 2005, it was often called ‘Container City’. For a long time, the vacated offices of the companies that had moved away from the pier were used for student housing. Things seemed to be changing for a while after the port basin had been filled. They started throwing house parties here, and there was even talk of Feyenoord moving to Waalhaven and building a new Kuip football stadium there. By 2010, these plans had been scrapped, however, due to the huge costs involved in such a move.” The rejuvenation of Waalhaven in the early 21st century has maritime roots. And Leo Baks for one is happy about this. Baks, who became the owner and director of Rotterdam Ship Repair at Pier 8 in 2013: ‘I’ve been a Waalhaven regular since my first steps as a kid. Ship repair is my life. And just look at the view! You have all sorts of ships moving to and fro. From container carriers to tugs, cruise ships to water taxis. Every day, the view – and the job – is different!’ he says with a smile of satisfaction.
Home at Pier 4
An aerial photo of Pier 4 from 1967.
Waalhaven’s Pier 4. It is and remains a unique location, in the heart of the world port of Rotterdam. A hub of activity: you are surrounded by chipping and hammering, the sizzle of welding, the warm smell of an engine room. A seagull calmly takes in the proceedings from a buoy near the quay; water laps against the hulls. While the technology and ships have changed over the past century, Rotterdam’s ‘can do’ mentality is as strong as ever. One of the reasons why ROG feels so at home at Pier 4.
ROG’s headquarters are on historic ground: the former site of Lith & Madern’s Scheepswerf en Machinefabriek – later known as Scheepswerf en Machinefabriek Waalhaven. From 1933 into the 1980s, this shipyard was a household name in the port city, and its old site now houses ROG’s striking new shipyard. From the water, it is difficult to ignore: ships from all over the world are laid up here for repairs. The Spido boat tours include a special Offshore edition, during which the captain tells the passengers more about crane vessels, cable layers, oil rigs and submersibles. During this tour, ROG is singled out as one of the key Rotterdam players in the Offshore market. And ROG is pretty proud of this designation.
However, the imposing ships and structures that are currently laid up along ROG’s quays are in a completely different class to the vessels that moored at Pier 4 for repairs over the past century. Although they were big in their day too. In 1928, Lith & Madern’s Scheepswerf en Machinefabriek constructed a new transverse slipway. Stretching to 130 metres, the slipway was intended for vessels of up to 8,000 tonnes. The company, which was later rechristened Scheepswerf en Machinefabriek Waalhaven, already had 18,000 cubic metres and a jetty where ships of all sizes were able to moor at its disposal by the late 1930s. In 1938 Piet Smit took over the shipyard. He did not own the company for long, though, because just before World War II, his shares were acquired by the Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij and Wilton-Fijenoord, each of which owned half of the company. In 1955 the Scheepswerf en Machinefabriek Waalhaven’s floor area was expanded from 18,000 to 34,000 cubic metres. In 1968, mergers caused the company to become a full subsidiary of the Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij (RDM). However, the company continued to operate under Shipyard booklet in the early 1930s (photo above). Construction of the transverse slipway on Pier 4 in 1928.
its own name.
Companies on Pier 4 Before ROG, Lith and Madern’s Shipyard and Machine Factory, Shipyard and Machine Factory Waalhaven and Serdijn Ship Repair were successively located at the same spot. And the part of the pier that is not used as a shipyard is home to Altrad Hertel, Bilfinger Industrial Services Nederland, Boskalis, Cargotec Netherlands, Duik- & Bergingsbedrijf W. Smit, MacGregor, Palletcentrale, Techniek College Rotterdam, Zandbedrijf Regio Rotterdam. In the past there were also Aannemersbedrijf Van der Vorm, Befaro Waalhaven, Bouwbedrijf Gerritse, CKT Reefer, GB Diving, Heibedrijf Guis en Rietveld, Hoogstad Zandbedrijg, Jan Levering Constructie, Kees de Graaf, Kroon & Levering, Mebin B.V., Oceana, Ocean Wide, Schmitt Anchors & Chaincables en Straal- en Schilderwerken Tavenier.
The ‘Mount Etna’ under construction and other ships on the transverse slipway in 1953.
Scheepswerf en Machinefabriek Waalhaven in the late 1950s.
An aerial view of the Scheepswerf en Machinefabriek Waalhaven.
Cook Serdijn is an engineer by
Back to basics In the final decades of the 20th century, after Scheepswerf en Machinefabriek Waalhaven had closed shop, all sorts of companies moved in and out of its former yard. From container storage to cranes operated by De Bedrijvendokter. In 2005, however, Pier 4 could once again welcome a real shipyard: Serdijn Ship Repair. Then owner Cook Serdijn restored this historic site to its original role. “When we set up here, it was just an abandoned pier. At the very end, you could actually find student housing here – they called it ‘Container City’. The yard had been used for all sorts of other things and was in dire need of an overhaul. We also did some dredging in order to optimise the depth of the water in front of the quay, and had mooring posts driven into the soil, thus allowing larger ships to moor. But it all worked out for the best! After a sizeable investment and a lot of hard work, we ended up with a great site,” remembers Serdijn. “Waalhaven was a wonderful home base for us. A good location for receiving our clients, in the heart of Rotterdam’s port area.”
trade. He took to the water after graduating from the Maritime Academy, and in 1984, ‘stepped ashore’ to found Serdijn Ship Repair in Rotterdam. After several moves within Rotterdam’s port area, in 2005 Serdijn relocated his yard to Pier 4 in view of the room this offered to grow. In 2014, Serdijn Ship Repair
However, Serdijn did not just handle repairs in its own yard. “We had a welding boat, which we used for a lot of repairs out on the water. And of course, our team also travelled to ports like Antwerp, Bremen and Hong Kong, to do repairs on location. That’s what I have always liked about ship repairs: the flexibility. People didn’t make a big deal about the time or location. The workers were always interested in a new job. Even on Christmas Eve. They did not hassle you about it. I remember that more than once, I had a rush job and headed over in my car to the De Gorzen neighbourhood in Schiedam, for instance, where lots of craftsmen lived. I rang their doorbells to ask if anyone was interested in coming along. They grabbed their stuff and hopped in! I could count on a motivated team that knew the lingo,” Cook Serdijn remembers with a smile on his face.
became a part of ROG, and Cook Serdijn stepped down to enjoy a well-earned retirement.
All about people Traditionally, Waalhaven was also a popular location for creditors to detain vessels. “If a ship’s owner failed to pay his debts, a bailiff could arrest his ship – meaning it wasn’t allowed to leave the dock. We witnessed this on more than one occasion at Pier 4. Waalhaven was a handy spot for that kind of thing. Fortunately, we started seeing less of it in later years,” says Serdijn. Although it has been a number of years since Cook’s retirement, a visit to the port never fails to excite him. “I have lost my heart to ships, and to the people who work in and for the yard. And of course, as an
“You may be working on a fine vessel, but you’re never on your own. You always need a range of Een luchtfoto van working de professionals scheepswerf op Pier 4. closely together.” 48
engineer I feel right at home in an engine room – but there is more to it than that! It’s a bit like a jukebox. It’s a fine machine in itself, but the selection of records you play on it make it even greater – more complete. That is my experience of ship repairs too. You may be working on a fine vessel, but you’re never on your own. You always need a range of professionals working closely together. So you could say my passion is more than just the ships. Above all, it is working with a team of skilled professionals on board a ship,” is how Cook Serdijn sums it up.
Hotspot Although the innovations of the past century have made working in the port less physically demanding, it still revolves around people and what they bring to the table. Waalhaven alone provides employment to some 12,000 people! And many of them come from the city of Rotterdam itself, or from one of the neighbouring municipalities along Nieuwe Waterweg. They travel to Waalhaven every day by public transport, bike or scooter, and the area even has several stops for Rotterdam’s water taxi. After over a century, Waalhaven – a stone’s throw from Rotterdam’s city centre – remains an attractive business location for maritime players. Indeed, over the past few years, Port Authority, the City of Rotterdam and the local private sector have continued to invest in the revitalisation of the Waalhaven area – including Pier 4. With the new arrival of Altrad Hertel Industrial Services in 2019, the transformation of Waalhaven’s Pier 4 is nearing its completion. All the lots have presently been leased. According to the Port Authority, it’s nothing less than a metamorphosis: ‘Pier 4 is a hotspot for premium service providers in the port area.’ More room for ROG In 2014, ROG moved to its new location. Here it has an open connection with the North Sea, crane capacity, a large yard and fully-equipped workshop – a unique corner of the thriving international port of Rotterdam. In contrast with the shipyards that used to work from this pier, ROG mainly focuses on adapting offshore equipment next to ship repair. Massive offshore systems enter Nieuwe Waterweg at Hoek van Holland and dock at ROG’s yard for its specialist services. In order to accommodate even larger vessels – or more vessels at a time – in 2017 ROG decided to substantially enlarge its premises. ROG was able to add some 50% percent to its existing surface area by leasing an adjacent site that had recently been vacated by the owner, concrete manufacturer Mebin. Since the expansion, ROG can offer 320 metres of quay, as well as over 22,000 square metres of useful surface area. The next step was to tear down the site’s old office building and build new headquarters in consultation with the Port of Rotterdam Authority. This spacious, contemporary office building, which was realised in close consultation with the urban aesthetics committee, marks the dawn of a new era at Pier 4. In which the focus is firmly on innovation, professionalism and expertise. A future built on Pier 4’s strong maritime roots.
Royal IHC director Diederik van Rijn: “All we see is opportunities” Speaking of ‘roots’... Royal IHC’s history goes back all the way to the mid-seventeenth century! In the last few centuries, Royal IHC has grown from a few independent local shipyards into an international company that provides technological solutions to clients active in the fields of Offshore, Mining and Dredging. Diederik van Rijn, Executive Director of the IHC Services cluster, told us more about Royal IHC’s partnership with ROG. Technological innovation has played a vital part in Royal IHC’s operations for nearly 3.5 centuries now. “Among other things, Royal IHC sets itself apart from the competition by being able to provide its clients with complex, client-specific and tailormade solutions to the challenges they encounter in their work, based on technological innovation,’ Diederik van Rijn says, summarising Royal IHC in just one sentence. Offshore is one of the company’s key markets. ‘We have a wonderful portfolio of offshore ships, equipment and services. Among other things, we are known for our pipe-laying ships, whose towers were designed by Royal IHC, which have made us a leading player in the world,’ Van Rijn goes on to say. ‘We set ourselves apart from the pack because we are able to offer a design featuring
Pipe-laying vessel Sapura Ônix is fully designed, engineered and built by Royal IHC. 52
Diederik van Rijn has served as both the ship and the mission
equipment. Our integrated approach
Pier 4 in the Port of Waalhaven is
guarantees an integrated and fully
considered a place of historical
significance in the maritime industry. Diederik van Rijn fully agrees with
us on that. ‘Our headquarters are
Royal IHC holds a 75% share in
in Kinderdijk, and we also have a
ROG. Diederik van Rijn explains to
shipyard in Krimpen aan de IJssel,
us why the partnership with ROG
while the engineering agencies
creates added value for Royal IHC:
Vuyk and KCI have their offices in
‘Right from the very start, we were
Rotterdam and Schiedam. We have
highly impressed with the ROG
a few other branches in the
team’s customer-oriented attitude
Netherlands, as well. ROG’s site in
and flexible and fast methods, as
the Port of Waalhaven is a major
well as with its extensive clientele of
bonus to Royal IHC. Their shipyard
happy regular customers. In-service
is close to our own sites, as well as
support is a vital aspect of the
to those of our major partners and
services we provide, and ROG’s
suppliers. Furthermore, it has open
activities are completely in line with
access to the sea, and there are no
that. Partly because of our partner-
restrictions with regard to the height
ship with ROG, we are now better
of our ships! In other words, we see
able to provide our offshore clients
nothing but opportunities to further
with services, renovations and
expand our clientele and our activities.
conversions during their ships’
We are confident that ROG will have
a great future.’
Royal IHC’s Executive Director since July 2017. Within the group he is the person responsible for the cluster of companies providing in-service support, which, in addition to ROG, includes IHC Services, IHC Dredge Equipment, and the engineering and KCI.
Working at ROG
As a company, ROG has that typical Rotterdam mentality. Call it like it is, and a man is as good as his word. When ROG takes on a job, you can be sure it will be completed on schedule and within budget. In practice, this means that we work 24/7, with a close team of dedicated professionals.
Surrounded by ships
Every day’s different at ROG. In the morning, you
ROG’s new office building, with a floor area of
might find one of Boskalis’s Offshore Support
nearly 1,000 square metres, was designed
Vessels moored along the quay; a few hours
by Alsemgeest Design & Build. “We started
later, a repair team is despatched to an American
from the inner structure of the outdated office
cruise liner out on the open sea. But regardless of
building that already existed. We upgraded the
how innovative the ships of the 21st century are,
workshop and demolished the office, apart
and how advanced the materials and technology
from the inner structure and roof,” architect
we use at our firm, good repair work comes
Nico Alsemgeest enthusiastically told us.
down to having the right people, with the right
The outcome? A sleek industrialist-style building
skills – both intellectual and manual. Together
in shades of black, white and grey. “The look suits
with our clients, we repeatedly develop new,
Pier 4 in the year 2019. Because let’s face it,
ingenious solutions for complex challenges. And
Pier 4 has become the flagship in the Waal-
our focus is always firmly on quality. Not just in
haven revitalisation project,” Nico Alsemgeest
terms of the end result, but also during execution.
continues. When asked what he himself thinks is
When it comes to safety and the environment,
the most beautiful part of the new ROG office,
ROG adheres to the most stringent guidelines
he answers without needing much time to
and regulations. And naturally, our expert personnel
consider his reply: “The large glass façade at the
can be counted on to keep everything up and
front. It gives you a great view of the port, where it
running – both literally and figuratively.
is all happening, from the interior of the building.”
No mountain is too high for Allseas The first ship to be moored to ROGâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s quay was Allseasâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Bright Spark. It was not an easy job to perform, as the cargo vessel had to be converted into a training ship. Allseas has supplied off-shore
Switzerland and also has offices in
services worldwide to energy
the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal,
supply companies since 1985. The
the United States, Australia and
company, which is headquartered in
India, has a fleet of ships specialising
Michiel den Ouden. 56
in installing pipelines and removing
the work involved pipes,” he says.
allowed to make a contribution to
After Bright Spark’s metamorphosis,
that. Furthermore, we are proud of
Allseas took on other special jobs,
the fact that the Stinger [see photo]
Michiel den Ouden, ROG’s Financial
such as manufacturing components
was here for maintenance and
Manager, remembers the first job
of the Pioneering Spirit. “This is
upgrading. The Stinger is a frame
he performed for Allseas like it
the largest construction ship in
that hangs from the rear of the
happened yesterday. “Allseas’ Bright
the world, which has been used
Pioneering Spirit and guides the
Spark was in the ROG shipyard for
by Allseas since 2016 to install
pipes to the bottom of the sea,”
188 days, from October 2013 to
and remove large oil and gas
Michiel den Ouden says in closing.
July 2014, to be converted from a
platforms and to install very heavy
freighter into a training ship. Most of
pipelines. It is great that ROG was
RollDock Fleet Director Edwin van Maldegem:
“We believe Rotterdam is the ideal port to operate from!” A heavy-lift cargo vessel that can carry a submarine half way around the world, or a module carrier for the modular transport of a refinery or wind turbine: RollDock’s fleet is nothing if not spectacular. And the company has chosen Waalhaven as its preferred port for loading. And ROG? The shipping line is happy to turn to this location for its repairs. We speak with RollDock’s Fleet Director, Edwin van Maldegem.
Launch of the RollDock Sky at ROG on Pier 4. 58
“We have found a great partner in ROG. They do not just offer expertise; we also set store by the flexibility they can offer at Pier 4.”
“We were looking for a repair yard for lifting and installation both on land our ships that did not automatically and out at sea. This includes the limit us to a dock. And naturally, we transportation of modules, wind wanted it to be nearby – somewhere turbine blades, cranes, submarines in Rotterdam’s port area. We believe and dredgers, but also complete Rotterdam is the ideal port to operate factory units. As such the group from,” says Edwin van Maldegem, caters to a changing market, in when we ask him about RollDock’s which more and more plants and partnership with ROG. “This repair refineries are actually built and yard allows us to handle specific shipped in separate modules. “In activities ourselves and combine 2006, we designed a new type of them with services offered by ROG.” vessel that can load and unload heavy-lift cargo in three different Heavy transport
ways. The cargo can be hoisted on
RollDock is an interesting company. board using deck cranes. Thanks It’s part of the Roll Group, which to the fact that the decks have specialises in the heavy transport, different levels, the cargo can be
Photo above: Edwin van Maldegem. Middle: The RollDock Sea at the quay at ROG. Below: The RollDock Sky in action.
brought on board by vehicles entirely
Star and Stone were built soon
In order to respond to changes
horizontally. And we can partially
after. These ships were built in
in the market, we embarked on
submerge our ship so that another
Germany. In the summer of 2016,
another new construction project
ship can float aboard,” explains Van
the Indian shipyard turned out to be
soon afterwards. In 2016 en 2017,
Maldegem. “In effect, the RollDock
able to complete construction on the
the Module Carriers BigRoll Bering
ships are three vessels in one: a
RollDock Sky, after all. “Needless to
and BigRoll Beaufort became
floating dock, an open deck ship
say, we wanted to add that ship to
operational. These state-of-the-art
and a crane vessel.”
our fleet,” says Edwin van Maldegem.
ships meet the requirements of the
“However, a few modifications had
Finnish-Swedish 1A ice class and
to be made to ensure that the
were used in the Yamal project.
It all started with the construction
ship met our requirements and
of semi-submersible multipurpose
preferences. We have found a great
heavy lift vessels. The first two vessels,
partner in ROG. They do not just
RollDock Sun and Sea were built in
offer expertise; we also set store
India and became operational in
by the flexibility they can offer at
2010 and 2011, respectively. The
The Module Carrier BigRoll Bering which was launched in 2016.
A highly committed team that thinks in terms of solutions
Ferry Scholten is Operational Manager with the Rotterdam Offshore Group. He is absolutely certain that ROG clients receive the fastest service, the fastest answers to their questions and the greatest amount of attention. “We are ready 24/7 to meet our clients’ requests.”
1. (De-)mobilization 2. Conversions 3. Repairs and maintenance in the port or en route 4. Heavy-lift and floating cranes 5. Supplier, sales/
No two days are the same at ROG,
mindedness in our methods. We are
rental and storage of
which is partly what Ferry likes so
given a lot of leeway in how we do things,
much about ‘his’ shipyard. “Assem-
both with regard to scheduling and with
bling a team on a Sunday night to be
regard to execution,” he explains. “Our
6. Construction work
able to perform repair jobs in ports
clients seem to think it is a good thing
7. High-end on-side
in just a few hours, or working on a
that we are a small team with short
demobilisation job for weeks on end
lines of communication. I feel the
8. Salvage and
– these are all things we do here.
same way myself. Our team is highly
Rather than coming up with reasons
committed, and we really get a kick
9. Manpower supply
as to why something will prove to
out of making yet another client
and crew services
be impossible, we think in terms of
happy. Moreover, we obviously work
solutions for our clients. ROG has
in a great and pleasantly challenging
transport, storage and
never said ‘no’ to any client, and we
environment: the Port of Rotterdam!”
never will. You will see the same open-
Ferry Scholten says in closing.
10 Business services
A Office B Workshop C Storage D Pier 2228 E Pier 2226 F Pier 2224
ROG SHIP REPAIR Waalhaven O.Z. | Port number 2226 Yard
Embakment and water
Quay 1 Length
Quay 2 Length
up to 1,400 tons
up to 300 tons
up to 300 tons
Forklift Trucks The workshop overhead crane
up to 25 tons 10 tons
AGENTS NORWAY AND DENMARK BSA Shipping Agencies ANS
Akershusstranda 15, skur 35 | 0150 Oslo T +4723085000 | E firstname.lastname@example.org www.bsaship.com
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At home in the world port Rotterdam