Van Laar Maritime BV

Dutch courage

Established in February 1925, Van Laar Maritime has a long, diverse history of working within numerous fields of the maritime industry.

Today run by the fourth generation of the Van Laar family, the company manages a fleet of 20 vessels operating in the oil and gas, wind and offshore sectors. Based in IJmuiden, Holland, and with offices in Ireland, the company’s headquarters lies within the heartland of the Dutch coastline, an area gifted with a thriving transport infrastructure offering easy access connections via land, air and sea.

“In its infancy the company was heavily involved in the maritime trading business, supplying goods to local merchants and fishing vessels,” explains Paul Van Laar, managing director of Van Laar Maritime. “It wasn’t until the late 1960s that the company first became involved in operating vessels. This move led to it becoming an owner, working in areas such as fishing, towing and carrying out smaller marine activities. Then, in the 1980s, it entered the oil and gas industry, providing support for cable laying operations and the construction of underwater structures, and over the last two decades the business has slowly built itself up to where it is today.

“For its customers within the oil and gas industry the company mainly provides chase and guard vessels for major seismic survey organisations that work around the world. Van Laar Maritime vessels can also be found supporting companies carrying out pipeline and well head projects as well as offering guard work services to offshore wind farms. Approximately 75 per cent of the company’s fleet are ex-fishing vessels that have been converted to work at sea for much longer periods of time. By removing the fishing apparatus and upgrading all the necessary systems, these vessels are now capable of operating anywhere on the planet, in the most diverse conditions possible.”

Van Laar Maritime works closely with its strategic partner companies, Rederij Groen in Scheveningen, Holland and EMS Maritime Offshore in Emden, Germany to provide additional expertise and access to supply vessels, fast crew boats, windcats and a range of specialised survey vessels to meet the specific demands of the offshore industry.

Other services provided by the company, including maintenance, painting, propeller repairs and class inspections, which can be carried out at its own shipyard in IJmuiden. Home to its own workshop and slipway, this facility can house vessels up to 70 metres in length and has a 1500 tonne capacity: “This area of the business began in 2003 when Maritime’s daughter company, Scheepswerf Van Laar, took over an existing shipyard and in the years since, activity here has got busier and busier,” Paul continues. “Originally the yard was only carrying out work on fishing vessels, but now the type of boats coming in are much more varied. The yard is seeing many more tug boats and sailing ships coming onto the slip, as well as stand-by vessels and work boats.”

Another company division, Van Laar Visserijketting, supplies chain and anchors to the shipping, fishing and fish farming industry, with customers in Holland, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, Scandinavia, Iceland and beyond. Van Laar Visserijketting is one of the largest chain suppliers to the fishing industry in Europe.

The most recent move by the company to expand its reach across the industry is its new build department. Van Laar Maritime has for the past year worked in conjunction with a team of naval architects, process engineers and environmental consultants to develop plans for the next-generation chase boat and support vessels using the latest hybrid propulsion technologies: “Today’s clients want younger vessels that are more adaptable and come with modern features, for example having twin engines fitted as standard. These vessels also now need to be greener, more environmentally friendly, and therefore this is taken into great consideration when building these new chase and support vessels. What you also find in this geographic region is that the older vessels have been designed for just one specific purpose. What makes Van Laar Maritime’s new builds special is the fact that they are very multifunctional and can be used for a range of purposes,” Paul enthuses. The company expects to place an order for the first of the next-generation vessels in the coming months with completion due in autumn 2012.

The ability of the company to service the oil and gas industry in a variety of ways is just one of the things Paul puts the success of the company down to: “Van Laar Maritime is an extremely flexible company, one where decisions are made quickly and easily. Being a very streamlined organisation, those employed by the company all share the same focus and are acutely aware of the goals Van Laar Maritime hopes to achieve. It also means it can react rapidly to changes within the market and change course to meet fresh demands where necessary.

“It is of course of great benefit as well that the company has everything under one roof in terms of its own shipyard, technical equipment and vessels. However it is important to stress that this is not simply a business solely interested in numbers. Every member of staff employed by Van Laar Maritime is equally as important as the last and each individual displays the same level of passion and desire to make the business stronger moving forward.”

Paul is certainly full of optimism when it comes to the future of the company, particularly in light of the current market conditions and the plans it has for the months ahead: “The business environment is slowly climbing out of the slump it fell into a couple of years ago and there is certainly a positive feeling flowing through the industry at this moment in time. The oil price remaining high is clearly a positive, but a much more crucial factor is the increasing demand for marine services in the oil and gas market. This is one of the reasons that helped bring about Van Laar Maritime’s move into the new build sector, that and the desire of companies to start bringing the industry, as a whole, up to a higher overall standard.

“By the end of August 2011 the company will have completed a long awaited move into its new offices. Strategically located on the quayside, directly beside its own slipway, these new premises will increase the overall efficiency of Van Laar Maritime, making it a stronger force in the market place and opening up a wealth of new opportunities that will propel it forward for the foreseeable future.”

Van Laar Maritime BV
Services: Vessel operator