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 fell out and when that happened we could only communicate over the radio.” Jan De Nul also had to consider the very many other contractors on the site. “This forced us to continuously adjust our planning. This is not at all obvious but flexibility is crucial for such complex projects.”

Kleo Danau“The only times when vessels weren’t working was when they were being serviced. Depending on the wear that was caused, this had to be done once every two or three weeks. For this servicing, we had to have all spare parts on board." This required intense preparations. 

Another major challenge was refuelling the vessels. Obviously, 18 vessels consume a lot of fuel and that fuel had to be supplied by a supplier from the port of Murmansk or Arkhangelsk. On average, a dredger can operate for three to four weeks with a full tank. Because Murmansk is a 4-day sailing distance, calculations what vessels would need which amount of fuel had to be very accurate. Orders were placed three weeks in advance. Kleo Danau explains: “That’s why we always had a traffic coordinator on site, someone drawing up the planning of which vessel would require fuel on which day. A dredger cannot be refuelled while dredging because the vessel is always moving then. Depending on the type and nature of the fuel, fuelling up takes about three hours for small vessels and up to ten hours for larger vessels.” 

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
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
Bucket list

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:…

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