Damen Shiprepair Dunkerque has completed Europe’s first dredger conversion to dual-fuel propulsion. The Samuel de Champlain is a 117m-long, 8,500m3 trainling suction hopper dredger owned by Rouen-based GIE Dragages-Ports and operated by the Port of Nantes-Saint-Nazaire. Damen supplied a complete conversion package including engineering, procurement, installation, commissioning and an eight-year service support agreement. A range of challenges were inevitable in such a project. These included a need for larger engines than had originally been planned, requiring the construction of an entirely new engine room. The new propulsion units required major renewal and extension of piping, resulting in the re-engineering and fabrication of more than 25 tonnes of piping. And the dredger’s mode of operation also required careful analysis so that the operating parameters for engine performance could be set up correctly. Mark Jan van den Akker, managing director of Damen Shiprepair Dunkerque, commented: “We knew at the outset that this project would be a voyage into uncharted waters. We have, however, acquired much valuable experience along the way that we can apply to future works of this type. It was definitely worth going the extra mile to successfully deliver this ground-breaking project. We hope she will pave the way to greatly reducing the emissions of a class of vessels that typically works close to the shore.”The 2002-built Samuel de Champlain is the largest vessel in the GIE Dragages-Ports fleet and is deployed in maintenance dredging in the Loire and Seine estuaries. The conversion was made possible by a subsidy from the European Commission’s Innovation and Networks Executive Agency via its Connecting Europe Facility programme.