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Rotterdamsche Dry Dock Company (RDM)
RDM Submarines BV

Heijplaatstraat 21 
P.O.Box 801 
3000 AV Rotterdam 
Telefoon 010 - 487 9111

RDM Submarines b.v. was a provider of shipbuilding and repair services for naval defence applications, including submarine design and construction. In addition, RDM Submarines b.v. was a contractor for submarine maintenance, refit and conversion and a supplier of submarine training simulators. Since its foundation in 1902 RDM (de Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij) has established a proud record in shipbuilding and repair. The construction reference list comprised hundreds of commercial vessels and warships, in which latter category submarines have played an important part.

In the 1920s and 1930s 'O'- and 'K'-class submarines were delivered to the Royal Netherlands Navy. Two 1700t. 'Dolfijn'-class boats of an advanced triple-hull design were launched in 1959 and 1960. Two 2600t 'Zwaardvis'-class boats featuring a full ocean-going operational capability entered service in 1972. They reverted to a double-hull configuration but of advanced 'tear-drop' form. The four unit 2800t 'Walrus'-class followed, being commissioned into the RNlN over the period 1992-1994. In 1985, during construction of the 'Walrus'-class , the company started a new range of advanced and flexible submarine designs. These included proven 'Walrus' technology while incorporating the latest developments in sensors and weapons data handling and RDM-developed Atmosphere Independent Propulsion (AIP). Through the years submarine maintenance, intermediate and major refits, and conversions have been carried out under contract.

On January 23, 1902 Rotterdamsche Dry Dock Company was established. That was the beginning of a century full of ups and downs. Times of crisis played leapfrog over periods of growth and flowering. The company did not just pop up out of nothing. As a port city of Rotterdam has a past with a rich shipbuilding tradition. Delfshaven born in 1856 in the yard as a precursor to the RDM applies. The founder was Duncan Christie, a Scot.

The first contract for construction of a seagoing vessel, Alwina came in 1905. It was the firstling a series of phenomenal ships. Tot de absolute toppers zijn het ss Nieuw Amsterdam, de kruiser Hr.Ms. The absolute highlights are the SS Nieuw Amsterdam, the cruiser Hr.Ms. De Zeven ProvinciŽn and the SS Rotterdam count. The launching of these vessels took place in the years 1937, 1950 and 1958. The passenger ship Nieuw Amsterdam is according to experts the most beautiful ships ever built. The SS Rotterdam was built as the New Amsterdam on behalf of the Holland America Line. With 38,645 tons, at the time it was the largest Dutch passenger ship.

The cruiser Hr.Ms. De Zeven ProvinciŽn [Seven Provinces], a command of the Royal Navy, was a long time the most modern ship of the fleets of the NATO allies. The building of The Seven Provinces bridged the Second World War. Before the war the keel was laid. In September 1944, the occupying Germans embarked on the destruction of ports and looting of goods. The RDM was seriously affected. The contract for the supply of three submarines of the navy in 1929 to the RDM, it was the first of a long series of similar orders. Since 1945, twelve submarines were built for this client. The submarines in the Swordfish and Walrus-class advanced technology as extremely particular.

The 1950s were golden years for the RDM. The company was running at full speed. There was work in plenty and the staff kept pace. Thousands of people were employed there. Over the course of time the number to the size of the workforce changed: in 1930 > 3.050
in 1931 > 1.780
in 1939 > 3.900
in 1947 > 3.800
in 1964 > 4.145
After the war, the RDM major supplier of oil refineries not only tankers but also pressure, boltanks, reactor vessels, and sometimes entire plants. The start of this development was in the thirties, when the yard received orders from the Bataafsche Petroleum Maatschappij (BPM, a subsidiary of Shell) for the oil refinery at Pernis in the First Petroleumhaven.

Working conditions were previously far from ideal. Zo lieten hoogte van de temperatuur en geluidsniveau veel te wensen over. The Labor Law of 1919 contributed to the generally improved, but initially the rules with impunity means. Only in the sixties knew the situation significantly better.

Also in the shipping took place during the sixties revolution. New transport and spent the container, roll-on/roll-off ship and the other new types. In particular, the container changed the face of the freight shipping complete. In addition, the ships get bigger and bigger. In time, the contents of dozens to hundreds of thousand tons.

New operations were undertaken. The RDM was of the party to the development of equipment for nuclear power. The dry dock built well drilling platforms, trenches excavators, pipe layers, crane barges and others, when there was demand.

At the same time there was a merger wave in the Netherlands in the period 1966-1971. In 1966 came the merger of RDM, the Scheldt and Rhine-engine Thomassen to Schelde Shipbuilding and Machinery. Een jaar later trad de Machinefabriek Breda, vh Backer & Rueb, tot de combinatie toe en weer een jaar later volgde Wilton-Fijenoord. A year later came the Machinefabriek Breda, vh Backer & Rueb, combination and a year later, Wilton-Fijen Oord. In 1971 the group finally joined with Rhine Scheldt Verolme (RSV) with a workforce of more than 30,000 employees.

The big conglomerate was not sustainable. Already in 1983 the curtain fell after the government business in the financial years had been held. An important part of the heavy industry of the Netherlands was lost in bankruptcy. Some 1370 RDM employees were among the 3,180 jobs lost.

On January 1, 1992, RDM became part of the Begemann Group of the Netherlands. The formal transfer of shares took place on December 20, 1991, reversing almost a decade of state ownership of RDM. The government sold it for just over $20 million. Later reorganizations followed again and again made many people unemployed. Since then, a lackof new submarine contracts has led to a reduction of the yard's workforce from 1,200 to 450 by 1994.

Joep van den Nieuwenhuyzen originally invested DFL2 million ($1.25 million)in Begemann in 1986. In 1990, the investment was valued at DFL400 million, the Begemann Group having expanded by taking over numerous other companies. In 1995 Van den Nieuwenhuyzen resigned as chairman of the 5,000-strong Begemann Group, following accusations of having tradedshares with advance knowledge. However, various court cases, concerning suspect trading in RDM shares and those of software house HCS, resulted in his acquittal.

In 1995 the Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatsehappij B.V. was split-up, into two independent units: General Mechanical Engineering Technology with the name RDM Technology en Marine, and RDM Submarines. Both parts were owned by the businessman JJA van den Nieuwenhuyzen. "RDM Submarines B.V." became a new company within the RDM Group. At that time, the new company's mission was formulated as RDM Submarines sole business purpose was the design, construction and maintenance of diesel-electric submarines, including all related auxiliary subsystems. The rationale to continue submarine activities within RDM was to capitalize on the vast experience, inherited by serving the Royal Netherlands Navy Submarine Service for more than 70 years. Such capitalization was foreseen by exploiting a profitable share of the large attractive world-market for newly built diesel-electric submarines, as well as for the maintenance, overhaul and upgrades of such boats, already in service.

RDM Submarines b.v. had the experience of many years of intermediate and major refits of submarines of the RNlN under contract to the Naval Dockyard. Programs developed by RDM Submarines b.v. for maintenance, refit and/or conversions of various submarines ('Zwaardvis', 'Walrus', German type 209) were carried out according to customer requirements and/or have been proposed, including configuration control services and through life support in co-operation with the customer. RDM Submarines b.v. had the in-house capability to carry out conversions on customer submarines including design changes, configuration control and performance analysis. The incorporation of a RDM-designed Atmosphere Independent Propulsion (AIP) section during a mid-life update, greatly extending the operational capability of the boat, was of growing interest. The company provided a whole range of Integrated Logistic Support (ILS) services to customers. The design, manufacture, and/or procurement of training simulators, can be supplied as separate dedicated project or as part of ILS.

In February 1996, former Chairman Joep van den Nieuwenhuyzen of RDM's parent Begemann Group took over the company and formed RDM Technology Holding BV. RDM Submarines, together with RDM Technology and NEVESBU (naval engineering and design), was a subsidiary company of RDM Nederland BV. RDM Nederland is in turn held by RDM Technology Holding BV. In addition to RDM BV, the RDM Technology Holding group holds SP Aerospace and Vehicle Systems BV and Wilton Fijnoord Holding BV.

Another part of RDM Holding is RDM Aerospace Holding, which includes the U.S.-based MD Helicopters. In February 1999, Boeing's McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Company sold its civil helicopter line to MD Helicopters Holding Inc, an indirect subsidiary of RDM Technology Holding. The sale price was not disclosed, although the asset value was about $150 million. Included in the sale are the MD 500E and MD 530F single-engine helicopters with conventional tail rotors; the MD 520N and MD 600N single-engine helicopters with the Boeing NOTAR no tail rotor system for anti-torque and directional control; and the MD Explorer series of twin-engine, eight-place helicopters. Boeing will retain ownership of NOTAR technology, but MD Helicopters will have a license to use the technology on existing and future aircraft. RDM is a subcontractor (through SP Aerospace and Vehicle Systems BV) to Boeing for landing gear and fuselage assemblies for Apache helicopters.

However, and mainly due to the continuing lack of national submarine programs, by 2004 it was no longer possible to expect RDM Submarines to maintain its role in the market for newly built diesel electric submarines. Nevertheless, maintenance, refit and logistic support of used submarinesarc still areas that were expected to be profitable. Apart from a relative small, though high quality maintenance support activity for the Royal Netherlands Navy RDM was not able to realise contracts for new construction, maintenance or relit of submarines.

Engineering and production departments have been successfully employed in building ship sections for commercial and utility vessels for colleague Dutch Shipyards. A contract for a steel casco for a 44-meter luxury yacht marked the start of a further development into this market area, in close cooperation with a well-known Dutch Yacht broker/shipyard. The ship lift has become an important and well-used facility for maintenance activities on anumber of utility vessels. In cooperation with a sister company RDM overhauled some of a total of 275 passenger traintrucks for the Dutch Railroads. RDM's dedicated Quality Assurance Program was highlvappreciated by the Railroad Authority.

With consolidation sweeping Europe, RDM was left behind. The company was too small to even be considered a niche manufacturer, and too uncompetitive to be a viable subcontractor. In April 2004, RDM Holding sought bankruptcy protection. The companies seeking protection included RDM Technology, RDM Submarines, the Nevesbu warship design bureau and Flycam, a developer of miniature unmanned rotorcraft. According to chairman Joep A.J. van den Nieuwenhuyzen, there are insufficient business opportunities to sustain these companies.

The yard area with buildings came in possession of the municipality of Rotterdam. By July 2006 Joep van den Nieuwenhuyzen faced multiple lawsuits over his business practices.

The Multi Role Vessel was constructed in 2005 for the New Zealand Ministry of Defence at Merwede Shipyard. Merwede Shipyard is one of the leading shipyards in the Netherlands and part of the IHC Holland Merwede BV group of companies. The 'MRV' was built at their facilities in Hardinxveld-Giessendam as an order for the Australian company Tenix Defence Pty. Ltd who is the prime contractor for delivery of a fleet of 7 vessels to the New Zealand MOD. The MRV is a new multifunctional transport and patrol vessel for the Royal New Zealand Navy. The ship is constructed at Merwede Shipyard, however the superstructure and the funnel unit were outsourced to Maatschappij De Maas BV in Rotterdam, which operates from the former RDM premises on Heijplaat. This is also where the superstructure and the funnel unit had to be placed on the ship that was towed to Maatschappij De Maas after being launched at Merwede Shipyard.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:04:50 ZULU