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Articles - Ship Repair - History

Business Is Brisk

Dubai Drydocks, the Middle East's largest ship repair yard, has announced 1997 figures which show a slight increase on those figures for the previous year (see Table One, below). The facilities were profitable for two straight years, and the 1997 results were achieved despite a lull in ULCC/VLCC repairs during the fall period when owners of such tonnage were keen to keep their ships at sea during a period of high freight rates.

Table One Vessels Repaired 1996 1997 (completed) ULCCs 23 22 VLCCs 44 35 Tankers 42 57 Bulk Carriers 24 27 General Cargo 31 40 Miscellaneous 20 24 Totol 184 205 DWT 24,430 23,233 Although the total number of ships completed by Dubai Drydocks increased by 21 compared with the previous year, 1997 saw a three month period when large tankers did not arrive on a regular basis, and thus the total deadweight figure declined from what was a record year during 1996. According to the repair yard, the first seven months of 1997 recorded a total of 37 VLCC/ULCCs completed, an average of some 5.3 tankers per month. During the three month period from August to October, repairs to only seven supertankers were completed, an average of 2.3 per month. The last two months of the year saw a dramatic increase as freights fell and owners were forced to carry out postponed repair contracts. A total of 13 such large tankers were completed in the November-December period, an average of 6.5 per month. Meanwhile, Bahrain Arab Shipbuilding and Repair Yard's (ASRY) success continued in 1997, despite increasingly fierce competition in the worldwide shipping market, especially from Dubai Drydocks and those yards operating in the Singapore area. The year 1998 started well and ASRY had received an encouraging level of enquiries, together with strong forward bookings.

Overall, ASRYs 1997 results were satisfactory and the yard obtained a good share of both the international and local ship repair markets.

A total of 116 vessels were repaired throughout 1997, with 101 ships of all types and sizes being accommodated in ASRY's three docks. These figures are slightly below the 1996 record level, as demand was relatively static in the fourth quarter due to owners deferring repairs until early 1998. In terms of vessel size and type, ASRYs market remained weighted toward crude oil tankers, products, chemical and LPG carriers, but with good demand for bulk carriers, general cargo and feeder containerships. Higher steel demand due to class requirements and life extension programs resulted in steel renewals of 4,164 tons, a 19 percent increase over 1996. Demand for high quality internal tank blasting and coating continued to be well maintained, with several vessels undergoing significant blasting/coating work. A substantial volume of pipework was also carried out, with more than 120,000 ft. (36,000 m) of various diameter pipe used.

A notable achievement in 1997 was the conversion of three Petrobas vessels for operation as shuttle tankers. The conversion work included the installation of bow loading arrangements, as well as other routine work. These vessels helped to increase the total amount of cable installed by ASRY throughout the year to cover 76,000 ft. (23,000 m).

The first drydocking of the new generation of HSS ferries outside the builders yard in Finland commenced with the HSS catamaran Stena Explorer, docking for annual survey and overhaul operations at Belfast's Harland and Wolff Ship Repair & Marine Services.

The vessel, which was due to reenter service last month does not drydock on its twin hulls, but is supported on the underside of the wetdeck between the twin hulls, by 10 steel towers (each approximately 33 ft. high and seven ft. wide.

A hydraulically adjusted platform mounted on top of each tower carries custom-designed soft cappings and the complete mount ensures that the weight distribution at each individual tower can be precisely adjusted and controlled by hydraulics, during the process of pumping down the drydock level and transfer of the vessels weight to the towers. Preparation of the towers took approximately 14 days.

The Stena contract is part of a two-ship deal, with the second ship, Stena Voyager, due to arrive at the yard this spring. In addition to drydocking surveys, Stena Voyager will undergo change-out of gas turbine power plant and water jet propulsion units during its period in drydock.

Modification work at Poland's Gdansk Shiprepair Yard (GSY-Remontowa) continues with the two sisterships being docked from Copenhagen-based ferry operator DFDS AS. The first to arrive was the 21,545 grt passenger/ car vessel Prince of Scandinavia, which is undergoing general modernization, including hull conversion and construction of additional side displacement tanks, increasing the vessel's stability. Passenger cabins are also being modernized and the ferry has now been equipped with modern life saving equipment. Also included in the work are overhaul and installation of new electrical air conditioning and ventilation systems.

General repair work includes blasting and painting, renovation of walls on car decks and main engine work.

Sistership, Princess of Scandinavia, which arrived earlier this year, is undergoing similar work, which is geared to getting the ship in spec with regulations set the Stockholm Convention and SOLAS.

While the privatization of Lithuania's Western Ship Repair Yard continues, the yard has been busy with some 70 percent of its current turnover coming from the international market. A total of 130 ships were repaired at the yard during 1997, which is a gradual rise in the numbers over the past seven years. The competitiveness of the yard is seen with steel prices currently being offered around $2.50 to $3 per kg, and labor prices at $14 per hour. Steel capability is about six to eight tons per day, but during the Al Messilah conversion contract (car carrier to livestock carrier), carried out during 1997, a figure of 11 tons per day was achieved.

The yard has already made inroads into the conversion market this year with the lengthening of a Danish general cargo vessel. The first contract for 1998 was for the conversion from a fishing trawler, Atlantic Challenger, to a seismic survey vessel for Norwegian owners. A similar contract is also being tendered for its sistership, Atlantic Horizon.

U.S. boxship operator Sea-Land Services has booked four of its ships at Germany's Werft, Bremerhaven, one of the busiest yards in Northern Europe. The ships involved are the 58,943 dwt OOCL Innovation, and the 58,869 dwt Nedlloyd Holland, Sea-Land Performance and Galveston Bay. Each repair operation will take two weeks to complete.

Apart from these four ships, Sea-Land also has another five containerships due to be drydocked in Northern Europe later this year.

During 1997, China's Qingdao Beihai Shipyard (QBS) carried out repairs to around 125 vessels, and out of this total, 85 percent were docked in the yard while it was seeking to build an 2,424.6 ft. (800 m). long berth in Yellow Island, Qingdao. The program is expected to be completed in 1999. The yard has started the year well with two conversions involving the 4,007 dwt Panamanian tanker China Seaways and a 4,089 dwt Panamanian general cargo vessel. Both ships are being converted to asphalt carriers and are owned by Kobe's Kyowa Sansho.

 
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