Encouraging Signs for Repair Sector in Europe

LNG tanker Matthew: another feather in B + Vs cap.
LNG tanker Matthew: another feather in B + Vs cap.
Tole Tivat repairs Spruttenberg.
Tole Tivat repairs Spruttenberg.
Poles tackle three for Red Funnel. Master converts Norways Kongsnes.
Poles tackle three for Red Funnel. Master converts Norways Kongsnes.

It has been an encouragingly active Summer and Autumn for many of Europe's ship repair and conversion facilities and thus a refreshing contrast to the gloomy order situation in much of the newbuilding sector. Big ship work may have grabbed the headlines this Autumn, but specialised small vessel projects have also made some impressive marks.

Among the biggest ships in the news has been the 76,000gt Costa Victoria . She will return to German repair and conversion yard Lloyd Werft Bremerhaven (LWB) in January for extensive upgrading. The liner was completed there in 1996, by the skin of her teeth as LWB's erstwhile parent Bremer Vulkan collapsed in scandal around her.

Costa Victoria will spend a month at LWB. Passenger and some public areas will be upgraded and new features added. She's just the latest big cruise ship prestige conversion job to come LWB's way of late.

However, whether the ill-fated 76,049gt Norway ex France will be repaired, sold off or even scrapped was uncertain as MJ went to press. She was still 'parked' at LWB awaiting a decision on her future from owners NCL. Out of service since May following a boiler explosion, she was towed to LWB, which has converted her several times.

Passenger ship conversion is also big news at present at Neptun Stahlbau in Warnemunde, which is still doing well as part of the prestigious west German cruise shipbuilder Meyer Werft.

The 15,000gt Danish Scandlines ferry Prinsesse Benedikte was dry-docked in October as the first of four ships booked for conversion this winter. She got an additional hanging deck. The 10,850gt Prins Richard was booked mid November and was due back in service before Christmas.

Up to May next year they will be followed by the 15,000gt German Scandlines ships Schleswig-Holstein and Deutschland . As well as new hanging decks and expanded passenger facilities, the Danish ships were also being modernised with work ranging from conservation to engine overhaul.

LWB's main rival in the big ship sector, Blohm + Voss Repair in Hamburg, has been mainly involved with tankers and bulkers of late.

It completed the conversion of the 65,675dwt Norwegian LNG carrier Matthew , a job which is another feather in the cap of the versatile yard. The project included installation of a new workshop and genset room as well as new winches and a free-falling rescue boat.

At the other end of the scale, the increasingly broad activity of B & V Repair of late has also included a specialist small passenger ship project: the undercover overhaul and conservation of the 105m mega yacht Lady Moura , which B + V built in 1990.

Fellow German facility HDW-Nobiskrug in Rendsburg has overhauled the 49.9 m long and 22.5m wide SWATH (small waterplane area twin hull) pilot vessel Elbe .She has been in service, along with two smaller SWATH tenders, since 2000 after completion at Abeking & Rasmussen and this was her first overhaul and repair. Along with routine work the HDW subsidiary also carried out steelwork and the repair of some minor collision damage on the 1450 ton displacement vessel during her two week stay.

North in Denmark, the passenger sector has also provided a recent big highlight at Orskov Yard in Frederikshavn with the conversion of Fjord Line's 31,356gt Fjord Norway .The yard installed new Frydenbo steering gears, twin screw Rolls-Royce Marine rudders and two new 2180kW Brunvoll bow thrusters in the 161m long and 27.6m wide ferry ship to increase manoeuverability in port.

Orskov Project Manager Bjorn Strandos told MJ that along with the bow thruster upgrade, a new power management system was also installed, the main switchboard rebuilt and general upgrading and repairs carried out.

Parallel to the conversion, Danish company Danish Interior upgraded the public areas as well as passenger cabins on Fjord Norway . Dipping into specialist projects elsewhere in Europe, Sweden's Oresundsvarvet dry-docked the 9,438grt, 107.8m Swedish icebreaker Oden for heavy rudder and propeller works. MD Jonas Hansson told MJ that work also included the rebuilding of bridge windows and bottom painting.

The rudder stock was dismantled, machined and welded with stainless steel to prevent cavitation corrosion.

Propeller blades were overhauled and Cedervall boxes were dismantled, overhauled and assembled. Reinforcement steel work was carried out in the tanks and a new steel foundation built for the vessel's VSAT aerial.

Oresundsvarvet went bankrupt in 2002 but has been revived successfully this year. That success will continue through the winter because Hansson told MJ the yard expected to dry-dock the 20,028gt rail ferry Trelleborg formaintenance in December and January. The work covers routine maintenance including painting, machinery, pipe and steel work.

In Holland, Keppel Verolme completed the notably complex and comprehensive conversion of the 25,000dwt, 165m long Kvitnes . The €30 million cost of that work is, apparently, what the former self loading bulk carrier cost when she was built in 2001 by Germany's Sietas Werft.

Renamed Rocknes , the ship is now a so-called flexible fall pipe vessel, demonstrating once again the offshore competence of the Dutch yard.

The Kvitnes work involved the installation of a moon pool and dynamic positioning plant.

However, her ore self-loading features have been cannily retained and she can still serve in that sector if needs be.

South in Montenegro, a repair yard not often heard from, the Tole Shiprepair Company in Tivat, reported it had completed the complex bottom and crankshaft repair of the 99.8m long general cargo carrier Spruettenberg to the satisfaction of Hamburg owners Vega Reederei.

Sales and Marketing Manager Vladimir Srajer told MJ the 52 day project had included the renewal of bottom steel plate, as well as rudder and propeller repairs and the dismantling and refitting of the main engine and gearbox for a total renewal of about 80 tons of steel .

He said Tole Tivat was the only private ship repair and conversion facility in Montenegro. 'Very competitive prices, working round the clock, seven days a week and good cooperation with customers are some of the advantages which attract German, Italian, Dutch, Russian and other European shipping companies to Tole when they need ship repair services in the Mediterranean area', he said.

Across the English Channel in the UK, recent work at versatile Portsmouth ship repairers Fleet Support Limited (FSL) has included the twin docking of two punchy British Antarctic Survey (BAS) research ships - the 90.4m long RRS James Clark Ross and the 80m long RRS Ernest Shackleton .FSL and BAS are in the second year of a five-year docking agreement for the two ships.

The 5,732gt Ross spent a month in dry-dock for annual survey, maintenance and painting, while the 4,000gt Shackleton spent a similar period undergoing thruster repairs. Other work included internal outfitting, crane maintenance and windsock mast repairs.

Commercial work this winter will supplement a busy programme of naval work. Three Condor ferries, two this year and one in January, will dock for annual survey and maintenance.

Burgess Engineering will concentrate on aluminium welding repairs while much of the mechanical work will be carried out by FSL, reported FSL spokesman Phil Rood.

Work will also include maintenance on the vessels' water jet propulsion system.

Another British shipyard showing competence with smaller ships of late has been Milford Haven Ship Repairers, where a new drydock for ships up to 140m length and 19m width is now up and running after being out of action for nearly 11 months.

Among the dock's first visitors have been the 65 m wooden sailing barque Tenacious for routine maintenance and the 101.6m long, 4842gt James Fisher cargo ship Rudderman , for its second special survey.

Britain's Red Funnel however turned to a Polish shipyard for the conversion of three small ferries belonging to group member Southampton, Isle of Wight & South of England Royal Mail Steam Packet Company.

Remontowa in Gdansk beat off local competition to bag the UK contract.

Red Osprey has already been to Gdansk and is being followed in mid January by sister Red Falcon . An option has been secured to convert a third of the 3,000gt ships, Red Eagle , next Autumn.

The 83.5m long vessels will be lengthened by 9.6m to 93.1m and get an additional vehicle deck.

In the last year, demonstrating a wide range of capability, Remontowa also inspected and upgraded the 52m high Norwegian offshore platform Port Reval , which has been used as a floating hotel and technical support base.

Earlier it converted the 103.7m cable layer Toisa Pisces into a small floating refinery. The vessel had already been converted once from an offshore supply ship into a cable layer. Owner Sealion Shipping ordered her rebuilding to cut mining costs.

Some 400 tons of steel went into the rebuild of Toisa Pisces .In November, Remontowa was installing new inner bulkheads with about 250 tons of steel on Knutsen OAS Shipping's Ragnhild Knutsen and in early January, the same Norwegian owner's shuttle tanker Tove Knutsen will be drydocked for a non-typical conversion, which the Polish yard is tackling for the first time.

The main task will be to build a new inner bottom and new inner bulkheads involving about 2,000 tons of steel to comply with upcoming new EU maritime safety regulations.

The ship's dynamic-positioning system will be also upgraded to DP2 class. That will mean the creation of a new auxiliary engine room for a new 2.3MW genset and the replacement of the existing genset and of the forward tunnel thruster with a new azimuth thruster. The ship's electric and automation system will also be modified and extensive painting and maintenance carried out.

Another Polish yard boasting a trio of ships for conversion this winter is Nauta Ship Repair Yard in Gdynia, which is lengthening three 101.0m long Norwegian paper products carriers for Lys Line Rederi between November and the end of next March. The job will bring to seven the number of ships Nauta has lengthened for the Norwegians.

The 5,350dwt ships Lysvik , Lysbris and Lysblink will be lengthened by 27.1m and strengthened giving them extra capability all round. Deadweight will increase from 5,350 to 7,500dwt, loading capacity from 7,352 to 11,271cu, deck capacity from 2,746 to 4,070m 2and container capacity from 112 to 160 TEUs.

Elsewhere, Sczcecin's Repair Yard 'Gryfia' converted the 9,233grt Feederscandic and Feederbaltic for Bremen-based European Sea Highway Services (KESS). Metal garages were installed on the weather decks of the 99.9m long ships.

Neighbouring Master Shipyard completed the conversion and virtual rebuild of the 43.67m long Norwegian fisheries training vessel Kongsnes in three months. That involved drydocking at Gryfia.

Finally, Morska Stocznia Remontowa Shipyard in Swinoujscie overhauled and converted accommodation on the 67.5m, 2,167gt emergency tug Waker for her Dutch owners.

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