Edward Heerema Passes the Reins to the Next Generation at Allseas

Edward Heerema, right, with his eldest son Pieter (Allseas)

Published Sep 16, 2022 6:04 PM by The Maritime Executive

Allseas founder and President Edward Heerema is stepping aside after nearly four decades at the helm of his company. His eldest son Pieter Heerema will assume the role of President of the Allseas Group. 

Edward Heerema will remain as chairman and concentrate on new technological developments. “Founding and building Allseas took an enormous amount of creativity, energy and perseverance," Edward Heerema said in a statement. "My ideas were sometimes doubted, but I was always determined to succeed. Over these many years, we established Allseas as a reliable contractor, with a reputation of changing the industry through innovation and pioneering spirit.”

Edward Heerema was born into a Dutch heavy-lift dynasty. His father, Pieter Schelte Heerema, founded Heerema Marine Contractors in Venezuela in 1948 and turned it into a powerhouse in offshore construction. HMC entered the budding North Sea oil and gas market in the 1960s and developed ever-larger crane ships to serve platform installation projects. In the late 1970s, it became the first company to order and deploy semi-submersible crane vessels, which are a hallmark of HMC's operations today. Pieter Schelte passed away in 1981, leaving control of HMC to his sons. 

After working at his father's company, Edward Heerema decided to chart his own path, and he founded Allseas in 1985. The firm was a pioneer in DP-enabled pipelay technology, and it saw early success in the North Sea and abroad. Its highly customized vessels set successive world records for speed, depth and diameter of pipelay operations, as well as vessel size. 

In 2007, Allseas announced plans to build an unprecedented pipelay ship, to be named after Edward's father. The new Pieter Schelte would be the world's largest vessel by displacement, and would be designed for two distinct roles: removing platform topsides in a single move, and laying the world's largest natural gas pipelines. 

The ship's name was immediately controversial, as Pieter Schelte Heerema was (before founding HMC) a convicted member of the Nazi Waffen-SS. Following the ship's construction and delivery, and after a yearslong public pressure campaign, Allseas agreed to rename the groundbreaking vessel Pioneering Spirit. It has regularly broken records in pipelay and heavy lift operations over the years since.

Under Edward Heerema's leadership, the company has expanded its success in offshore decommissioning and invested in the nascent field of deepsea mining. It has developed and tested technology for the collection of polymetallic nodules, the concentrated deposits of manganese, cobalt and nickel found in certain abyssal plains in the Pacific Ocean. Working with The Metals Company (TMC), it has developed a subsea collection system to recover nodules from a depth of up to 5,000 meters. The concept is controversial among environmental advocates and marine scientists. 

Edward's eldest son Pieter joined the firm in 2011 and served as Vice President, overseeing project execution for offshore infrastructure projects. He now takes the firm's helm as it moves into its next chapter. 

“The work we do, day in day out, is my ultimate passion. Allseas’ hallmarks, pipelay and heavy lift, will remain. Positioning ourselves in new markets will help secure our future. I look forward to building on my father’s many successes as we move forward into new, exciting times," he said in a statement.