This year AMELS celebrates its centennial milestone. From its origins as a Dutch boat builder, AMELS has grown as part of the Damen Shipyards Group powerhouse into the largest luxury yacht building yard in the Netherlands, recognised world-wide as a symbol of pedigree and the absolute highest quality and finish. It’s a heritage that we are proud to continue.
It was in 1918 that Kees Amels established a family boat building business in the north of the Netherlands. This small shipyard in the centre of Makkum is where Kees dedicated three decades to teaching his son, Wiebe, the skills of the trade from the age of 13. AMELS delivered around 100 vessels of up to 20 metres from wooden fishing boats to steel tugboats.
With a view to building bigger, Wiebe, now head of the family business, moved the yard to what would become its home until 2005. Located on the outside of the Ijssellake-dike on the Makkumerwaard, AMELS began working on larger commercial ships and coasters, growing into one of Holland’s largest shipyards. In the mid-late 1970s, they went on to diversify their shipbuilding skills and apply them to a more specialized market sector in high-value luxury yachts.
In 1991 AMELS was sold to Damen Shipyards Group. The name AMELS was retained, preserving the brand which was, by then, synonymous with luxury yacht building and is now also renowned for its high value, quality and finish. The shipyard in Makkum remained operational for the following 14 years before AMELS established a new home in Vlissingen at the Royal Schelde yard, now the largest yacht building facilities in the Netherlands. In 2007, the first of the AMELS Limited Editions was delivered, marking the start of one of the industry’s biggest success stories. To date AMELS has delivered more than 60 superyachts.
The Damen family acquired AMELS in 1991, as a new venture in building luxury yachts. AMELS is now a cornerstone of the shipbuilding family’s long-term entrepreneurial vision. Rose Damen joined the business in 2014, strengthening the family’s commitment to AMELS and DAMEN yacht owners.
One of Kommer Damen’s four children, Rose Damen is Commercial Director at Damen Shipyards Group’s yachting division – which generates 10-15% of group revenue with its brands AMELS, DAMEN Yacht Support and DAMEN SeaXplorer.
Taking over his father’s shipyard in 1969 with six employees, Kommer Damen has grown the business into Damen Shipyards Group, the world’s leading specialist shipbuilder with 9,000 employees, 33 shipyards, 6,000 vessels delivered and around € 2 billion in annual revenue.
At the family home in Holland, Commercial Director Rose Damen talks with her father Kommer Damen, Chairman of the Damen Shipyards Group, about the growth of the business.
As we look ahead to the future of AMELS, one goal remains the same as it has been since the day the first ever AMELS superyacht was delivered: that owners and their guests truly enjoy using their yacht and the experiences it brings them. The AMELS vision is to create the opportunity for their clients to make memories and enjoy the finest moments in life. But the yacht is only one half of the superyacht experience – it is the Captains who helm the AMELS vessels and their crews who turn dreams into reality.
At AMELS the ground beneath our feet is steeped in centuries of shipbuilding. Our history is bound together with the development of our hometown Vlissingen. The city’s maritime DNA has shaped not only our docks and locks, but also the working lives for generations of craftsmen.
Before it officially became a city in 1315, Vlissingen was a thriving fishing port on the North Sea. From the 14th Century it became increasingly important as a centre for building warships for the Dutch Admiralty and trading vessels for the Dutch West India Company. Around 1688, the shipyard complex was expanded – the foundation of the AMELS yard today.
Shipbuilding and maritime industry continues to drive the local economy of Vlissingen, including the large deep-water Port of Vlissingen and our parent company DAMEN’s commercial and naval shipyards. But just as in centuries past, all these shipbuilding facilities are nothing without the skilled and dedicated men and women who turn timber and steel into perfectly crafted seagoing vessels. It’s a shipbuilding heritage that we are proud to continue.
With such a rich maritime heritage, Vlissingen certainly needs its own maritime museum. The MuZEEum (highlighting ‘Zee’ the Dutch word for sea) is a journey through the city’s history. The traditions of shipbuilding are captured in artworks and artefacts that link us to our past and inspire us for the future.