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Niels Doorn
Maintenance engineer

Niels Doorn successfully completed a Boskalis traineeship in 2013/2014. He is now working as a maintenance engineer and looks back fondly on his time as a trainee.

“When studying mechanical engineering I had the option to work for a wide array of companies after completing my degree. When performing a final assignment for a small organization I came into contact with the world of dredging. The international aspect of dredging activities was an immediate draw for me, as was the rough and tough nature of the business. I must say that the size and technology on a ship, especially from the perspective of a mechanical engineer, is quite intimidating. After all, ships are not a focal point of mechanical engineering studies. For me this was an added reason to decide to do a traineeship at Boskalis because I am always very interested in learning new things.

The traineeship consists of three six-month periods. During the first period I helped prepare for the repairs on the trailing suction hopper dredger Willem van Oranje. The preparations were made at Boskalis’ head office in Papendrecht. I really liked the fact that I got to go along to literally everywhere. My visits included a number of shipyards in Germany. During the second period I traveled to Poland for six weeks to make the repairs. These repairs taught me a lot. It was hard work but also a lot of fun. After completing the repairs I got to tag along on the Willem van Oranje. This was quite an experience for me as a mechanical engineer because I hadn’t been on a ship this size prior to my traineeship. During my three weeks at sea I learned a great deal about the operations on a ship. From a mechanical engineering perspective I find it interesting that a ship is self-sufficient. Literally everything can be found on board. Not to mention the fact that the ship takes you places you would have never thought you’d go. A few days after returning to the Netherlands I went offshore again, this time on board the Ndeavor. The Ndeavor is one of Boskalis’ multipurpose vessels. During the trip it was my job to keep the equipment on deck running smoothly. I was ultimately on board the Ndeavor for nine weeks and the trip even involved an emergency docking in the Philippines.


The world of Boskalis is very interesting!

The final six-month period of the traineeship took me to the UK for repairs on one of the smaller vessels at Boskalis Westminster. On the job I had a lot of freedom to make the repairs as I saw fit, albeit of course under the supervision of the fleet manager. There is a common perception that repairs on a large ship are interesting but in reality it is on the smaller ships that you get a lot of responsibility. In addition, making repairs on a smaller ship regularly means having to tinker away. For me that was the reason why I decided to work as a maintenance engineer on smaller ships after finishing my traineeship.

Boskalis’ world is extremely interesting for anyone with a background in mechanical engineering. The fact that ships were not the focus of my studies made the Boskalis traineeship program a unique opportunity for me to gain a great deal of experience in a short period of time. And I have to admit that it’s pretty cool to tinker away on a trailing suction hopper dredger like the Willem van Oranje with its 13,917 tons and 12 Megawatt!”

Do you want to know more about working for Boskalis? Read other stories of our colleagues.