Monday, 1st September 2014
It may be an acronym for First Export Association of Dutch Shipbuilders, but Feadship also stands for the two eminent figureheads who lead the team behind it: Dick van Lent and Henk De Vries. We spoke to Dick van Lent about the past and future of his own prestigious shipyard facility – Royal van Lent – and the rise and rise of Feadship.
What are the qualities that you believe set Feadship apart from other Northern European yards?
Dick van Lent (DvL):
Our company, Royal Van Lent, is 170 years old. We’ve seen a number of crises, and what we’ve seen after a crisis is that the best yards – the 8 of us – remain. The reason is that particularly in a down period people look more for reputation and financial stability – it’s important that the yacht completes and delivers with no problems in year three. Also, we don’t cut corners. Feadship are quality driven, relationship driven and service driven.
Which yacht from the van Lent shipyard has represented the biggest leap forward in terms of technology and innovation?
Ecsta sea created quite a bit of weight – this was a yacht that did 32 knots at 41,000 horsepower with 4 diesel engines and one turbine. There were strict requirements regarding noise and vibration, but in 2004 it was delivered on time, on budget and met all the technological criteria. We’re now producing a 101m yacht (to be delivered in Spring 2015) that is the first yacht in the industry that will meet the passenger code criteria (for cruise ships). It’s not so easy on a yacht when we need the finest in finish and luxury. There are 60 different types of wood on the boat that all need to be fire retardant while maintaining the character of the materials.
How does the Feadship partnership work?
We (van Lent and De Vries) are equal shareholders in Feadship and use the same designer – De Voogt – that both our families own. You’re ensured the same standard of design, engineering and quality at both our yards and we are involved jointly in the innovations.
How have you had to expand the Feadship yards in order to accommodate the growing appetite for increasingly large yachts?
We have renewed the slipway, widened the opening of the dry docks to accommodate the beam and enlarged the opening of two nearby bridges. These were governmental projects but we requested them. Last week we had the opening ceremony of the (widened) lock and it now allows just over 100m in length by 14m beam and 3500 tons.
With the recent widening of the locks – in addition to facilities like Feadship’s Makkum yard – is there a limit to what can be achieved?
It doesn’t look like there is any limit in the yachting industry. Every decade the size grows by 10m and in volume it becomes enormous. Particular owners want to achieve particular spaces and do more world cruising beyond the Mediterranean. These yachts are now like mini to medium sized cruise ships.
Have you had to adjust your pricing policy over the last 7 years?
Our pricing is simple – it’s an accumulation of equipment and man-hours. If those lower because of fierce competition between suppliers and contractors, then those prices are reflected in our quotation. It’s a constant process to work more efficiently in the good times but even more so in an economic downturn.
Any future trends or wishes you can envisage?
We’ve had lots of special wishes over the years – hospital equipment and helipads, a crow’s nest, karaoke room and underwater observation windows, for example. We’re special in that it’s a team effort with the owner, so if they enjoy the creativity we can supply it.
What is your order book looking like?
At Royal van Lent we have 5 boats under construction between 55m and 101m and we will have time for a new build in 2017. At Feadship we always have 10 boats under construction. We have a good pipeline – the next one is always on the drawing board.