Finish business delegation - Marstrat - Damen

Marstrat and Damen Shipyards Gorinchem host Finnish business delegation

On Monday 4 November 2019 Marstrat and Damen Shipyards Gorinchem hosted a Finnish business delegation (Team Finland), eleven companies were led by their State Secretary for Economic Affairs.

The aim of the meeting was to learn more about autonomous vessels, the construction of cruise vessels and smart ports, in both Finland and the Netherlands. Various other topics were raised, such as advanced maritime solutions, digitalization, partnerships, sustainability and research.

Damen also elaborated on their new Engineering office in Helsinki, Finland. Specials thanks to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland and for a very successful afternoon of discussions and networking.

Marstrat continues support of Maritime Awards Gala

Rotterdam based maritime consultancy firm Marstrat has supported Maritime Awards Gala (MAG) over the years and became Gold Sponsor for the first time in 2018. Marstrat confirms to continue the sponsorship agreement in 2019.

Marstrat and MAG share the same vision when it comes to appreciating the significance of the Dutch maritime industry: from creating world class innovative solutions and highly advanced shipbuilding to realizing sustainable maritime solutions with the strong support of finance providers. Marstrat has been involved in various mandates promoting the Dutch maritime sector internationally and has been guiding companies and the public sector to develop maritime business activities locally.

Every year almost 900 maritime professionals attend the annual networking event to celebrate the innovative power and achievements of the Dutch maritime industry. The event hosts five prestigious awards in the categories designer, innovation, ship-of-the-year, shipping and student innovation.

Marstrat is a strategic consultancy firm based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands that provides a unique combination of business, financial, and operational expertise to the maritime sector. Marstrat simplifies, organises and supports in order to solve your cross-disciplinary maritime challenges. Marstrat’s partners speak the language of the sector and understand the international markets. They have extensive experience, and an undisputed track record in the maritime sector.

Marstrat is pleased with decision Dutch Senate to allow commercial armed guards on board Dutch vessels

Marstrat is pleased with the decision of the Dutch Senate on 19 March 2019 to allow commercial armed guards on board Dutch flagged vessels. After a long period of cooperation between various Dutch maritime organisations, Dutch vessel owners will be able to provide full support and protection against piracy for their seafarers, like other European owners. The new law is expected to be in place by the end of this year.

Flying the Dutch flag is one of the most reliable and competitive ship registrations available today. Ranking third place on the Paris MoU white list, the Dutch flag enjoys the benefits of the Netherlands’ maritime infrastructure based on sustainability, innovation and responsible sailing.

The position of the Royal Association of Netherlands Shipowners on this topic can be found on their website (Dutch article)


Marstrat driving force behind Groningen Maritime Board

During a well attended meeting on 17 March, Patrick Brouns, member of the Provincial Executive of the Province of Groningen installed the Groningen Maritime Board. Egbert Vuursteen, CEO of Royal Wagenborg was presented as chairman of the Board. The installation of the Groningen Maritime Board  is one of the measures the provincial government is taking  to support the Northern shipbuilding cluster.

The main tasks of the Board are to initiate projects to reinforce the regional maritime cluster such as cooperation and facilitating innovation within the Northern region. Marstrats partner, Harry Doze has been appointed as secretary to the Board, to act as driving force behind the Board and to assist with implementation. During the meeting several ongoing initiatives were presented.

Shipping fund

Next to installing the Board the province invests 15 million Euro into the Nesec Shipping Debt Fund. This 250 million Euro fund provides an alternative for traditional ship finance since traditional banks are hesitant to finance newbuilding programmes. Apart from the investment by the province, the fund is supported by 200 million Euro form the Dutch government. The remaining 35 million Euro has to be provided by insurance companies, pension funds and other institutional investors. The fund aims to boost the Northern shipbuilding cluster.


One of the aims of the Groningen Maritime Board is to improve the competitiveness of the shipbuilding cluster. The Northern shipyards have an international reputation for delivering high quality and innovative products. But Dutch shipbuilders are facing loss of  orders to low-cost production countries for quite some time now.  The Province of Groningen has assigned Conoship in close cooperation with  Marstrat  to conduct a feasibility study with regard to robotization for shipyards. Resulting in a possible sound business case to improve efficiency in the shipbuilding process by lowering labour costs via robotised welding.

Regional cooperation

Last year Marstrat performed a market study on the Northern Dutch shipbuilding cluster. The cluster generates 1.3 billion Euro in revenues and provides 4,300 regional jobs (opposed to 7,000 two decades ago). Harry Doze: “Without support and cooperation  it is questionable what the position of  the maritime cluster in five years will be.” The increased need for sustainability, the energy transition, and changes in class rules provide opportunities. Examples of previous joint initiatives such as Conoship and Centraalstaal demonstrate that regional cooperation and innovation prove to be a formula for (regional) success.

Because of his track record and the unique combination of business, financial and operational experience within Marstrat, Doze ,resident of Groningen, is confident about bringing added value to the Groningen Maritime Board, and help the Northern shipbuilding cluster capitalise opportunities.

A day in Shipyard Process Improvement

The last years Marstrat allocated a significant part of its consulting capacity to operational management in leading shipyards. One of the leading shipbuilding companies in the Netherlands used the Marstrat expertise in a major change program. A more cost-effective process, with better re-use of information and better exchangeability of personnel between different business units was the goal; a complete new ICT landscape architecture was the means, and is now being implemented. Marstrat partner Dr. ir. Jenny Coenen gives an insight in the daily challenges of a complex program.

The extent of shipbuilding processes is definitely wide-ranging. It goes beyond the production facilities and logistics one usually associates with building ships or offshore installations. In fact, the main challenge is the interface between departments, process stages or software applications, requiring smart and edgy solutions.

In order to change the extensive process of defining and making a complex product as a ship it should first be properly mapped out, in both the as-is and future state situation. Data architecture should be designed, functional specifications should be written; all even before new software can be selected and evaluated. Then, the aforementioned interfaces and all required customizations to make it work for a specific shipyard organisation, have to be specified and configured. To proceed you have to migrate data and develop training material. And then, to maintain this new situation, you need to have a proper strategy for data and process quality management. Marstrat contributed to all these elements, also for less conventional ingredients like for instance development of ‘serious games’ and data cleansing.

All this doesn’t imply that we consider more ‘classical’ production topics like production automation, shipyard logistics, scheduling and simulation as ‘out-of-scope’. But it is hard to separate this from a solid information infrastructure and that is exactly with what we can help you.

It’s lonely at the top

Decision making at C-level can be a lonely affair. Often the most important decisions owner or board makes, are done by a small number of people. The reason for this is that it is just impossible to share information in public. Tall because of NDA’s with future partners, a public listing, personnel issues or competitive reasons. Consequently, only the majority shareholder or board members carry the burden of crucial decisions for the company’s future.

But what to do when crucial information is needed on maritime markets, or a second opinion is being asked? This is where the partners of Marstrat come in. The partners of Marstrat provide objective feedback with regard to strategic plans or executive decisions on a strictly confidential basis. Thanks to long time experience in executive positions in maritime business, Marstrat has the knowledge to assess or discuss strategic and executive discussions. Not in order to tell what you want to hear. But to give their own opinion, like it or not.

Our forte is in strategic decisions, road maps, and feedback based on knowledge, feeling and experience in marine and offshore markets. Investors, shipowners, shipyards and maritime suppliers lean on this expertise. This is the portal to a healthy discussion, which results in a balanced decision. Both in the past as in the present.

Marstrat also fills in supervisory board positions, and gives special attention to the organisation, legal department and knowledge of the shipbuilding and shipping markets.

It will always be lonely at the top, but it can be comfortable as well – when a Marstrat partner backs up your decision.


(Alternative) Ship Finance

Traditional ship finance for more than a century is based on financiers, the banks, taking a first priority mortgage on the ship. This proved a good way of lending to the sector, providing security in case the shipowner cannot pay back. The characteristics of the ship (valuation and ability to generate income) determine the amount of finance should be made available, how this is repaid and at what price (interest margin). International ship finance banks have mainly funded the global ocean going fleet. The Dutch banks are still amongst the leading players. Also regional shipowners involved in coastal and inland transportation have been solely depended on local bank funding in case of limiting own sources.

From the start of the financial crisis in 2008 and due to continuing overcapacity in many of the shipping markets the financing capacity from traditional banks in Europe and US have reduced. The private and smaller shipowners find it especially difficult to obtain bank financing. Marstrat has assisted owners in the financing, refinancing and restructuring of various vessels and have involved alternatives to bank funding to in order to survive or to ‘make the deal work’.

An example is funding from institutional investors such as pension funds or insurance companies, making capital available for the longer term (matching with the life of the ship). Regulatory requirements like Solvency II for insurance companies may work out more favorable than the shipping banks’ regulatory framework in the near future (Basel IV), therefore offering attractive cost of funding for the shipowner and attractive risk-return for the institutional investor.

Increasingly there are alternative fundings available from private high net-worth individuals as well as from direct lending platforms and Chinese funds, depending on the vessel and the sponsor’s business model. Financial institutions can act as intermediary or advisor in accessing new sources but are often available for the ‘big players’.

Marstrat acts fully independently with hands-on advice and strong network in the financial market. We have the complementary advantage of fully understanding you maritime business needs.