On 16th November 2010 DFDS announced the expansion of its tonnage co-operation with the Danish and German Ministries of Defence. To accomplish this, an order for two ro-ro newbuildings was placed for delivery in 2012. Since 2003 DFDS has co-operated with the Danish Defence Forces and, since 2006, also with the German Defence Forces, for the provision of Ro-Ro capacity under the name of the ARK project. The ARK project was established in 2003 as a consequence of the Danish commitment to the Prague Capabilities Commitments meeting in November 2002. As already mentioned, this agreement now encompasses both Denmark and Germany. The ARK project requires five Ro-Ro ships and the existing fleet of the 24,613gt/1999 built Suecia Seaways, 18,725gt/1996 built Ark Futura and 24,196gt/2000 Britannia Seaways was supplemented by the 2010 contract for the new sisterships. Four of the ARK ships are on call whilst assigned to a DFDS North Sea Ro-Ro service (with varying periods of notice between 15 and 60 days whilst remaining under the Danish flag) with the fifth vessel being either available for military transports or sub chartered to the civilian market.
To date the ARK fleet has transported military equipment for England, Belgium, France, Holland, Germany, Norway, Poland, Spain, Italy, Denmark and Slovakia. The operational boundaries are generally Northern Norway, the Falkland Islands, Tanzania, Pakistan and Iraq. Denmark participates together with 25 other nations in the co-operation at Movement Co-ordination Centre Europe, where the military sealift operations are coordinated. Worthy of note is the use of the Ark Futura for the transportation of chemical weapons and materials out of Syria in 2014. The new ARK agreement was signed in 2010 with charters covering the period 2010-2021 replacing the previous agreements which expired between 2010 and 2012. The number of DFDS ships in the co-operation increased to a minimum of five from the initial fleet of two in 2010 with a stipulation for the inclusion of two newbuilds. The two new ships ordered each featured a freight capacity of 3,000 lanemetres plus a container capacity of 342 TEUs plus the design accommodates both defence as well as DFDS requirements. The total order sum was DKK 950m (€ 128m) of which 80% was financed by a 12 year loan extended by KfW IPEX-Bank GmbH.
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