Before the shipyard was taken over bij VEKA it was called Bijlsma Shipyard, it was officially founded in 1903 in Warten and has since grown to be one of the largest shipyards in the North of the Netherlands.

When the shipyard officially opened at the beginning of last century shipbuilding was a branch of industry in which everything revolved around manpower and craftsmanship. Technology gradually came to the aid of the craftsman, and electrical welding, strong cranes an increasingly advanced burner equipment eased the workload. These improvements called for mayor investments and adjustments to the company.

In the early years, the shipyard build pontoons, skutsjes (traditional Frisian sailing ships) and small vessels. In the 1930s Bijlsma Shipyard began to build bigger ships: a 370 ton motor vessel for the Rhine trade was completed, which was quite an achievement in those days. A multitude of vessels followed: tugs, motorized pilot boats, fishing cutters and dredgers were launched from the slips.

International trade appeared on the horizon in the 1950’s, starting in 1952 with the foundation of the joint venture ‘Conoship’ (Combination of Northern Shipbuilders) together with fellow-shipyards. One of the aims of this joint venture was to acquire orders from abroad. This approach succeeded for the first time in 1967 with MS With Junior, a coaster for a Norwegian client. Other followed consecutively.

Between 1962 and 1978 twenty hopper suction dredgers with a cargo capacity between 800 and 1000 tons were completed. 1974 saw the arrival of an order through Conoship for the construction of two 1500 ton coasters. This led to the shipyard being modernized and expanded. The expansion included a large construction shed, one of the first in the North of the Netherlands. This facilitated the construction of larger ships up to 2500 tons.

Having built a wide variety of ships, a special order arrived at the beginning of the 1990s: the construction of a series of seventeen ships of the type ‘Bijlsma Trader 2200/2500’.

The leap to Lemmer
There was however no letup in the demand for bigger ships. To secure its fortune, Bijlsma would have to expand. In 1995 the decision was made: there would be a new shipyard in Lemmer. The new shipyard was opened in 1996 and the first ‘Bijlsma Trader 9000’, the ‘Markborg’ for Wagenborg Shipping, was launched.

In the end of 2003 the first contacts between Bijlsma Lemmer and Veka arisen. Veka was looking for a suitable place for finalizing the increasing number of inland vessels, while the yard needed work as soon as possible. The interest of VeKa to finalize their inland vessels on our outfitting pier, was more than welcome, says Arend Bijlsma. In March 2004 all the real estate where sold to the VeKa-Group. With that VeKa could continue the finalizing of the inland ships in own management. Arend Bijlsma; the capacity extension that was necessary, was here for taking. And how: a splendid yard on an ideal location.

Until the acquisition by VEKA Group in 2004, the family company `Bijlsma’ has built 393 ships.

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About VEKA Shipyard Lemmer

VEKA Group is a distinctive Dutch shipbuilder that has become an international player in the maritime industry in its 25 years of existence. Today we operate in diversified nautical markets and deliver a wide range of specialized vessels. At our shipyards in the Netherlands and abroad we have experience in building high quality vessels. Always cost efficient, with passion and using in-house knowhow.

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