Innovation and Sustainability Sets the Tone at the Maritime Awards


Published Nov 5, 2021 12:13 PM by The Maritime Executive

[By: Netherlands Maritime Technology]

With 15 nominees for 5 Maritime Awards, the Dutch maritime sector is proving that it still has plenty of room for development and is still able to occupy a solid position in world trade. Each of the nominated products and R&D projects demonstrates the power of cooperation, R&D and high-quality production. From components for submarines and modular design methods to vaccination programmes and complete electric and autonomous vessels, two themes clearly stand out: innovation and sustainability.  

It remains an impressive figure when you think about it: up to 90 per cent of everything that is transported is transported by sea. In other words: all the transport by trains, trucks and airplanes in the world adds up to only 10%. 

World Trade 

When container ship Ever Given blocked the Suez Canal in Egypt at the beginning of 2021, the importance of shipping to world trade was hard to underestimate. And it was no surprise that Dutch companies Boskalis, Smit Salvage and ALP Maritime were critical in refloating the ship, thereby restarting an important part of world shipping. The maritime sector not only consists of transport, of course. Other aspects include dredging, towage, fishing, offshore installation work and more. Dutch industry plays a role in all these fields, resulting in some EUR 30 billion in exports. 

Standing still means going backwards 

However, standing still is not an option. It inevitably leads to decline or crisis – just think of the 1980s when the Dutch shipbuilding industry seemed to be collapsing. Today, tough international competition (especially - but not only - from China) plays a role, as do defence and social interests. Opportunities are being explored for housing, food supply and power generation in or on the water, for example. And that has to be as sustainable as possible – the sector realises that. 


Running everything on diesel is no longer a viable option and so, various new services, products, methods and studies have been introduced in recent years. That these are paying off became clear on Monday evening during the presentation of the Maritime Awards 2021 in De Doelen in Rotterdam. 

Five companies, researchers and designers were awarded prizes for special, practical innovations. In brief:

Maritime Innovation Award 2021: Demcon Unmanned Systems. For: new type of electric autonomous unmanned vessels 

Maritime Designer Award 2021: Dr. Lex Keuning. For: additional cargo vessel propulsion using wind energy (by improving the Magnus Rotor system), delivering significant fuel savings

KVNR Award 2021: RIVM (Nils van der Kolk, project leader for hard-to-reach target groups). For: 
COVID-19 Vaccination and certification programme for seafarers (first in the world)

RNLN Van Hengel-Spengler Award 2021: Lieutenant-at-Sea 3rd Class Noah Stam. For: research into options for ballistic missile interception and development of 3D simulation models

KNVTS Ship of the Year Award 2021: Damen Shipyards Group. For: electric ferry Bryggen for Arriva, Copenhagen

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