Saying it’s cold in Sabetta really is an understatement. In winter, temperatures drop to -25 degrees Celsius, and in summer, these may rise up to 10 degrees.

In winter, it stays dark all the time. In summer, it never gets dark. Pieter Timmermans: “It’s quite a unique experience. You stay awake at night and realise you’re not getting tired. Your biological clock isn’t working.”

In the final weeks of the project, it got dark again at night. Several Jan De Nul employees were lucky and saw the aurora borealis. “Personnel working at night on the bridge of the vessels had a list of people who wanted to be woken up in the event the aurora borealis would be visible. We were called out of bed several times to come and watch”, explains captain Koen Van den Berghe. “It definitely is a special experience, something I can tick off from my personal bucket list.” 

Related articles


Another challenge of the Sabetta project was the amount of permafrost that had to be dredged. Because dredging works in the high North are very rare, this was a first for our company. Permafrost is frozen soil that never thaws, in this case mainly frozen…

Read more
Crucial preparations

“We dredged round the clock, 7 days a week”, says Works Manager Kleo Danau. “This means that planning was crucial. Every vessel had to keep the others permanently informed. That was not always easy, internet or phone connections sometimes…

Read more
Close to colleagues

Koen Van den Berghe is captain on the hopper dredger Francis Beaufort. “For me, it was an exciting project.  As a captain, I’m always the middleman, I consult with both staff on board and onshore staff. Now, I maintained very close contacts…

Read more
Turnips, carrots and potatoes

Given the remote location, far from civilisation, the entire fleet had to be completely self-reliant. All auxiliary tools and spare parts were divided over the vessels and transferred from one vessel to another whenever needed. In 2016, Sabetta already…

Read more