Being one of the first shipyards in the Netherlands to build ships using aluminium over 50 years ago, has made Habbeke Shipyard in Hoorn one of a kind. Their lightweight, agile and fast rigid-inflatable boats (RIBs) are award winning and, in fact, save lives. “In any kind of sea and any kind of weather, our ships will always be ready to go,” says Orm de Waart, second generation owner of Habbeke.
TEXT: MICHIEL STOL | PHOTOS: HABBEKE SHIPYARD
His father started the company in 1966. “He was a shipbuilder already but thought he could do it better on his own. The fact that we are still here 50 years later proves he was right.” The name of the company is derived from a local saying in Broek in Waterland, where Habbeke is started. “It is sort of a greeting, a mixture of Dutch and Swedish,” explains De Waart. “During World War II, local children were sent to Sweden. When they came back, they spoke this mix. When my dad and his partner delivered the first ship, they went with this name and it stuck.”
Habbeke is renowned for its fast and agile RIB boats, made completely using aluminium. “It makes them lightweight, so very easy to handle, and even on rough seas.” It is why they have been producing lifeboats for The Royal Dutch Lifeboat Association (KNRM) for nearly 30 years. In this time, Habbeke has delivered 30 vessels, including the pride of the company; the Valentijn Class RIB boat. “The Valentijn can rescue up to 50 people and has shown her worth and ability in the dangerous seas around the Netherlands. In 1994, we were awarded the prestigious Aluminium Award for this vessel.”
Besides rescue vessels, Habbeke also builds leisure (sail) yachts. One of the key factors in the yard’s success is its commitment to working with the client and the designer. “We will try to realise as many of the clients’ wishes as possible, and we are not afraid to be bold. For instance, using thinner materials to keep the weight down; but also including the latest gadgets.” The BN218 Valentijn is a great example of that. “It’s innovating, daring, and agile. It is like an F-16 fighter jet on water,” smiles De Waart.