On 10th May Damen Yichang Shipyard launched a RoPax 6716 into the water. The vessel will be operated by the Port Authority of Timor-Leste (APORTIL). It will operate between Timor-Leste’s capital Dili, the Oecusse enclave and the island of Ataúro, carrying up to 308 passengers, vehicles and cargo. The ferry will stimulate increased access to trade, education and employment.
The construction of the vessel took place during some of the most challenging months of the COVID-19 pandemic and it was only by implementing a robust set of safety measure at the yard that Damen was able to keep things on schedule.
Due to the pandemic, the launching event was a virtual celebration. It was well attended by delegates from Damen, APORTIL, class and representatives of the government of Timor-Leste in China. The vessel launch button was pressed by Mr Abrao dos Santos, Ambassador of Timor-Leste to China, Mr. Deng Zhiping, MD of Damen Yichang Shipyard and Mr. Shengtong Wang, Damen sales manager Asia pacific.
Ms. Maria Albert Gonclave, third secretary of Timor-Leste in China released the bottle of champagne with which the vessel was named Berlin-Ramelau. The name, featuring the capital of Germany and the highest mountain in Timor-Leste, is a reference to the co-funding of the vessel by the governments of both countries.
Speaking at the launching ceremony, president of the board at APORTIL Mr. Eng. Flavio Cardoso Neves said, “Even facing numerous obstacles, this project execution has managed to proceed, with nearly no deviation, towards its final destination, in Dili. The pandemic crisis has limited parties from travelling and made difficult the circulation of materials around the world. But the whole team commitment, adaption and perseverance has led us to this day. Such is the strong personality of the maritime industry and its people. Some may see the ocean as a barrier, but for us it is a path that connects us to each other and allows us to go further and do great things.”
Damen sales manager Asia Pacific Mr. Gysbert Boersma stated, “It goes without saying that we are grateful to His Excellency the minister and His Excellency the Ambassador Mr. Abrao dos Santos for choosing Damen to supply this high quality vessel and to our neighbours in Germany for financing the project as well as all our contacts within APORTIL for the good working relationships so far. I’d also like to congratulate the shipyard and the project team at Damen HQ – you did a fantastic job.” Dr Matthias Schilf of IMS Nord, consultant to APORTIL said, “This vessel demonstrates the great potential of collaborative efforts. The construction of the Berlin-Ramelau has been a truly multinational project, calling upon the cooperation of parties in Germany, Timor-Leste, China and the Netherlands. We are very proud to have played our part in this project.”
Now that the Berlin-Ramelau is in the water, the yard will continue with outfitting. In June the vessel will sail to Shanghai for seatrials, leaving for Dili in July.