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Ruud Ouwerkerk Retires from DTC

Ruud Ouwerkerk in the IHC-DTC exhibit at the Panama Canal International Conference in 2012.  Photo by Katie Worth

Ruud Ouwerkerk in the IHC-DTC exhibit at the Panama Canal International Conference in 2012. Photo by Katie Worth


In February, Ruud Ouwerkerk, president of DTC (Dredge Technology Corporation) sent a letter informing his North American colleagues, including those at IDR, of his forthcoming retirement and the resulting changes in his corporation

Dredge Technology Corporation (DTC) is the North American office of Dutch dredge builder IHC Merwede.

On May 6, Ouwerkerk reached the mandatory Dutch retirement age and stepped down.

IHC will continue to serve the U.S. market thorough DTC, with Jan van Helden taking over as the new president. Van Helden has worked in IHC Engineering supporting DTC for more than 15 years on different design and construction projects in North America, and is familiar with many of the U.S. conditions, Ouwerkerk told IDR.

IHC has hired a new employee, Leo van Ingen, as DTC sales manager, and a new board of directors has been appointed.

Ruud Ouwerkerk started his work in IHC in 1974. In 1978 he married Eunice, a U.S. citizen, and she was the reason he was transferred immediately to the U.S.

In 1977, IHC Holland had a joint venture with John J. McMullen Associates in New York, and Ouwerkerk started there as assistant project manager for the construction of the Corps hopper dredge Yaquina. After the expiration of the joint venture in 1984, IHC assumed full ownership of the company.  Ouwerkerk climbed the ladder and served for 25 years as DTC’s president.

DTC, with its products of Dutch origin, had to work within the constraints of the Jones Act in the U.S., and the Canadian content requirement in Canada, and was able to create a thriving business in North America within these constraints.

DTC supports IDR and has presented a number of papers at WEDA sessions -- his first one in 1983 and the latest in 2011.

Ouwerkek sent this message to his North American colleagues: “I would like to relay my thanks to my North American friends, acquaintances and contacts, for the time spent on dredging - their patience, the feedback, education and training I received from U.S. clients and colleagues.  Also for the opportunities offered, the cooperation experienced, and above all for the friendships shared. For those still active in that market: serve well and enjoy! I wish you all health and happiness for you and yours in your private lives.”

Eunice and Ruud plan to visit the family in the US and Canada and hope to run into some of you. If you want to contact him:


Note: In his efforts to find a market for Dutch dredging products in the U.S., Ruud did considerable research on cabotage legislation and the Jones Act, and passed on this knowledge to IDR.  With the leads he gave me, I searched the Congressional Record of the early 20th century and was able to give the dredging industry an accurate understanding of this legislation.  The Dredge Act of 1908 was brought about when two Dutch dredges were employed to raise the level of the City of Galveston after the flood of September 1900 by pumping sand into the city.  The Dredge Act stated that dredges were vessels and therefore included in existing cabotage legislation, prohibiting foreign flag vessels from working in U.S. waters.  The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, nicknamed the Jones Act after Washington Senator Wesley Jones who was its sponsor, incorporated the provisions of the Dredge Act and other sabotage legislation. Judith Powers, Editor.

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