Even a global lock down didn’t stop Origin’s progress

By Patti Pietschmann, Travel Diva

Silversea Silver Origin

When Silversea hired Dutch shipyard De Hoop to build a new ship, they had no idea about the challenges ahead. A global pandemic hit right in the midst of construction.

But through determination and perseverance came one of the most stunning expedition in the world.  Alas due to the current no sail situation she isn’t making her bow.

Keeping an optimistic eye on the future, upscale cruise operator, Silversea took delivery of the new ship Silver Origin. Despite the global coronavirus-induced lockdown, the ship is finally ready to make her bow when the seas are open again.

How it all happened at the Dutch shipyard

“De Hoop implemented rigid safety procedures, reduced its workforce, and devised ingenious ways to overcome posed challenges, including a world-first during the ship’s sea trial,” says a company spokesperson.

A new ship built during tough times 

On March 15, 2020—four days after the announcement of coronavirus as a global pandemic the Netherlands went on lock down. The country ground to a halt like other areas of the world. Although relatively isolated in Lobith,  De Hoop gave employees the option to cease working.

While many opted to repatriate.   About 200 employees—mainly skilled carpenters—stayed on the job. They toiled tirelessly to apply their craftsmanship to the ship’s guest suites. Many employees moved in an on-site residential facility, Barge Rossini.

De Hoop’s professionals were shielded by sanitary procedures such as temperature checks and distancing.  Enhanced cleaning procedures were also established in the living quarters. Business took place via video.

Necessary supplies were cut off.  carpeting, loose furniture and the onboard art collection faced delays. And the closure of Italy stalled the installation of the ship’s windows and galley. The stringent lock down threatened the project’s progress.

Getting over the hurdles

Small hurdles became giant obstacles, but still the team persevered and as the world around it came to a stop, De Hoop pushed on. The shipyard fundamentally changed the way it operated to continue the project. None of the employees caught the virus and the team maintained an unwaveringly strong spirit as Silver Origin took its magnificent shape, symbolizing the resilience and craftsmanship of European industry

First ever remotely-run sea trials

 While shallow waters on the Waal River delayed Silver Origin’s float out from November to December 30, 2019, the months of January and February brought heavy rain to Western Europe in 2020, leading to unusually high water levels.

This prevented Silver Origin and Barge Rossini from passing beneath the 12 bridges that separate De Hoop Shipyard from the sea. Only on March 26 was a safe passage to Rotterdam accessible—more than a month later than originally planned. This left just four weeks between arrival in Rotterdam and the sea trial.

The travel ban prevented sub-contractors from reaching the ship. And Silver Origin’s  remotely run sea trials became a historic world-first.

A fast internet connection was set up on board to enable near-instant communication between both parties and, using a headset and a camera, an operative from St. Petersburg completed maneuvering tests. The ship’s Captain, meanwhile, acted as his lookout from on board.

“This was the first time such an operation has been completed remotely during a sea trial,” says Fre Drenth, the Director of De Hoop Shipyard. “The tuning was successful and took no longer than usual. It demonstrates that it is possible to tune dynamic positioning systems remotely. It could potentially save a lot of travelling time for engineers in the future. I am enormously proud of my team for their work.”

 Finishing touches

 “We are so grateful to the professionals at the De Hoop shipyard,” says Roberto Martinoli, Silversea’s President and CEO. “In the face of such adversity, their efforts were extraordinary and represent the resilience of European industry. Silver Origin looks magnificent. Our pioneering new ship represents the dawning of a new age of travel in the Galapagos Islands and we look forward to welcoming guests aboard when the time is right.”

 Ramping up sanitary standards

Silversea Cruises continues  to improve  its sanitary standards.  The cruise line is currently working on enhanced sanitary protocols across its fleet to ensure that all necessary precautions are in place to resume safe and healthy cruising when the time is right.

Silver Origin

A star is born

Silversea hopes to launch the Origin in the Galapagos August 2020. To book your cruise just call Pavlus at 800-528-9300. Or go to pavlus.com.

 

 

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