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Astander: Boom Continues In '98

Astilleros de Santander (Astander) had to turn down work offers last year because of heavy patronage of its facilities. By landing a total of 60 repair contracts and one conversion project during 1997, the Spanish yard maintained the record-breaking momentum of recent years, as manifested in both order intake and occupancy rates.

Occupancy of its 755 x 105.6 ft. (230 x 32.2-m) and 525 x 78 ft. (160 x 23.8-m) graving docks was logged at 100 percent for four months of the year, and is reported to have never dropped below 90 percent for the rest of the time. Out of consideration of contractual commitments to the two drydocks and alongside berths, and cautious to avoid jeopardizing performance and service on the work already booked, Astander said it had to decline 13 firm job proposals over the course of 1997. The Santander yard's strong ties with the Norwegian shipowning community were reinforced, to the extent that 50 percent of its business last year emanated from that quarter. In addition, it consolidated its position in especially demanding areas such as the German and Dutch markets, and achieved breakthroughs in Denmark, the U.K.

and elsewhere. Part of the Astilleros Espanoles (AESA) group, Astander has developed a particular standing in the tanker category, spanning the gamut of oil, refined products, chemical and LPG carrier types. That area of specialization was accentuated last year through a contract flow which accounted for 70 percent of the yard's work overall. A highlight of the northern Spanish firm's activities was the transformation of the 2,737-gt, former Russian supply ship Neftegaz 7 into a research vessel, renamed Geo fjord, for Norwegian owners. Elements of the work included 33.5 ft. (10.2 m) lengthening, installation of a dynamic positioning system including four new thrusters, construction of a new deckhouse, and provision of scientific research wherewithal. With the commissioning of a 200-ton crane at Drydock No. 2 and completion of the enlargement and modernization of alongside berth facilities in February 1998, the investment program started last year has largely run its course.

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