The contract was awarded by Rouen-based GIE Dragages-Ports with regard to its 117m, 8500m³ trailing suction hopper dredger Samuel de Champlain, and the works will take place next year at Damen Shiprepair Dunkerque.

Under the contract, Damen is delivering a turnkey package that includes engineering, procurement and support. The current propulsion system of the Samuel de Champlain is diesel-electric burning MGO, and so the package includes the change of generators to dual-fuel models and the installation of onboard LNG storage facilities.

The conversion project is being made possible by a subsidy from the European Commission’s Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) via its Connecting Europe Facility programme.

To achieve the funding, GIE Dragages-Ports formed a 12-member Franco-Spanish consortium named the ‘S/F SamueLNG for a Blue Atlantic Arch’ project with the aim of promoting the use of LNG by small-scale vessels active on the Atlantic coasts of Spain and France and up into the English Channel / La Manche.

“The consortium allows us to share experience with our partners and to access the support from INEA, without which this project would not have been possible,” said Jean-Pierre Guellec, CEO of GIE Dragages-Ports. “We hope that this conversion will demonstrate to other short-sea vessels the benefits of conversion to LNG and mark the first stage of the development of an LNG bunkering network on the Atlantic coast of mainland Europe.”

Currently a series of studies are underway, and equipment is being ordered. The conversion is scheduled for the autumn of 2018.