NL spent €26.3 million on ships that can't be used for intended purpose: report

MPV 30 Scheldestroom
MPV 30 Scheldestroom. (Photo: Rijkswaterstaat)

Dutch public works department Rijkswaterstaat bought three brand-new ships for 26.3 million euros to replace five outdated ships, but due to a flaw in the design they can't be used for their intended purpose until adjustments have been made, RTL Z reports based on its own research.

This involves so-called MPV30 ships, which were intended to be used for multiple purposes by Rijksrederij, a division of Rijkswaterstaat. Currently fishery research, marking of sailing routes and checks by customs or the coast guard are all done with different vessels. The three new ships, named Merwestroom, Waddenstroom and Scheldestroom, were meant to handle all those tasks. 

But according to RTL Z, an error in the design means that the ships lie too deep in the water. As a result, they can't reach all the places where they need to be deployed to. The ships can not enter the Wadden Sea, for example, where large differences in water level occur due to ebb and flow. And sailing in shallow inland waters, such as parts of the IJsselmeer, is also not possible. Another issue is that the ships won't be able to carry enough fuel, food and other cargo to spend long periods at sea. 

In addition to the problem with the depth, another flaw in the design means that the helmsman can not see clearly what is happening on the deck. A crane is in the way. As a result, the safety on the ships is "inadequate", Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen of Infrastructure and Water Management wrote to parliament earlier this month. The design of the ships are being adapted to solve this specific problem. How long that will take, an what it will cost, is not yet clear, according to the broadcaster.

There is currently no solution for the fact that the ships lie too deep in the water. The builder - shipyard Bijlsma Wartena - and Rijkswaterstaat are currently trying to find a way to fix this issue. How much this will cost and how long it will take is also unclear. That depends on the solution they come up with, a spokesperson for Rijkswaterstaat said to the broadcaster. 

This is not the first time Rijkswaterstaat had issues with the acquisition of new ships. Earlier this year it was revealed that two rubber speedboats purchased for the Coast Guard at 1.1 million euros were not able to sail through waves at high speeds. As they were intended to be used on the North Sea, where there are almost always waves, the boats can not be used and Van Nieuwenhuizen will start a new tender.