GONDAN Shipbuilders is a family-owned business with almost a century of experience. Located near Gijón in the Asturias region of northern Spain, GONDAN has gone from building fishing vessels for the local fleet to creating some of the most technologically advanced service vessels for offshore energy fields. And many of the vessels are equipped to run on alternative sources of energy including hydrogen and electricity. But sustainability is not just about energy. GONDAN Shipbuilders also believes in supporting local businesses wherever possible to reduce transport emissions and stimulate job and economic growth in their region.
When GONDAN Shipbuilders began operations in 1925, wood was the preferred material for hulls. But by the late sixties, steel had become a more cost-effective material and GONDAN turned to a local steel mill – now ArcelorMittal Gijón – to meet their needs.
“The relationship with ArcelorMittal Gijón continues to this day,” says Montserrat Rodriguez, Purchasing Segment Leader at Gondan. “The proximity of the mill reduces our transport costs, and it is helping us commercially as more of our customers are asking us to use locally sourced materials. This is particularly important for customers who are active in renewable offshore energy generation. They want to minimise the carbon footprint of their vessels as much as possible.”
ArcelorMittal Gijón supplies GONDAN Shipbuilders with heavy plates in naval-quality grades. “We are very satisfied with the performance of the steel that we source from ArcelorMittal,” notes Montserrat Rodriguez. “In total we use around 2,000 tonnes of heavy plate in each vessel.”
Launch of the Vilja, an ice-breaking escort tug equipped with an electric battery
The lead-time for a vessel is typically two years. GONDAN Shipbuilders builds the ship and then fits it out with the technology requested by the owner. “We are the technology integrators – we put everything together and make sure it works,” says Luis Mourelle, Sales Manager for Gondan. “When the vessel is finished, the owner has a high-quality solution which is ready to go.”
The ships GONDAN is currently producing are typically used to deliver cargo and service personnel to offshore energy installations. Using designs provided by specialist engineers, GONDAN develops the detailed engineering plans for each new vessel. “In this process we use our experience to enhance the sustainability of the vessels,” says Luis Mourelle. “That can be achieved by reducing the number of engines, utilising full-electric motors, and adding alternative power sources.”
Service vessels for offshore windfarms are a key part of Gondan’s business
GONDAN will soon complete the first of five vessels for an operator that services wind farms. “These vessels will already be equipped to utilise green hydrogen,” says Luis Mourelle. “We have already delivered the first ice-breaking tug equipped to run on battery power. For short missions the tug can run on electric power, or the battery can be used when the tug needs an extra burst of power to move a large or heavy vessel.”
Safety is another key consideration notes Luis Mourelle: “As the renewable energy industry grows, operators have realised that more energy can be generated from larger wind turbines which are located further offshore. But that increases the danger for personnel who must transfer to the installation in all kinds of weather and sea conditions. People are also spending longer onboard, so the vessels need to be comfortable and stable. That’s why every vessel is tailored to the conditions of a specific energy field. We can include motion-compensated gangways to counter sea swells, better living quarters, and the latest stability systems.”
Offshore service vessels offer a high level of comfort and safety for the personnel who service offshore energy installation
GONDAN Shipbuilders are now looking to improve the carbon footprint of their own operations – and the vessels they produce – as the company gets ready for its second century of operations. “Reducing the carbon footprint of our vessels is becoming more important, not just for propulsion,” notes Luis Mourelle. “That’s why we are looking at initiatives such as ArcelorMittal’s XCarb® green steel certificates. We are talking to customers who may be open to cooperating on an XCarb® project. After all, if we can build vessels more sustainably it will be good for our business and good for Europe.”
The Dr Fridtjof Nansen is a super-silent vessel used to undertake fishery and oceanographic research
ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products can supply offshore and shipbuilding grades with very high strength and toughness. Plates are available in widths up to 3.3 metres with a tensile strength of up to 460 Mpa. The maximum weight of a single plate can be up to 19 tonnes. ArcelorMittal is actively working to increase the thickness range of our plates for wind energy and shipbuilding. The dimensional feasibility of ArcelorMittal’s offer reduces the number of welds required, reducing costs and production time significantly.
Like all ArcelorMittal steels, our offer for wind energy and shipbuilding is available with XCarb® green steel certificates which enable customers to reduce their Scope 3 emissions. ArcelorMittal’s XCarb® initiative brings together all of our reduced, low and zero-carbon products and steelmaking activities, as well as wider initiatives and green innovation projects, into a single effort focused on achieving demonstrable progress towards carbon neutral steel.
More info on ArcelorMittal’s offer for wind towers: industry.arcelormittal.com/windtowers
More info on ArcelorMittal’s offer for shipbuilding: industry.arcelormittal.com/shipbuilding
More info on XCarb®: corporate.arcelormittal.com/climate-action/xcarb
All images are © Gondan Shipbuilders