Cruise ship repair follows special jobs
As the first cruise ships dock for regular seasonal overhauls in the big German yards, the impression of a relatively quiet summer is hard to dispel, but appearances may have been deceptive, reports Tom Todd
At the rapidly expanding Petram Group repair centre in Bremerhaven’s Kaiserhafen, Lloyd Werft Bremerhaven (LWB), now busy again with newbuilding, was expecting P&O Cruises’ 82,505gt Arcadia in late November. She’s the second of the seasonal cruise ship callers after AIDAcara in October. Arcadia was arriving 25 November for conversion and repair until 15 December, LWB said.
A lot of work was being crammed into just over two weeks – an indication of the intense competition still around for contracts like this. In the case of Arcadia, steel works were being contracted out while interior work was being handled by the yard itself.
The ship last called in 2008 when she underwent a major stern and cabin refit, but she will in fact be the second Carnival Cruises Group ship to call this year. LWB Managing Director Rüdiger Pallentin said: "It is good to know, at a time when things are not always easy for German shipbuilding, that not only our performance is valued by clients placing small repair orders, but also that we can hold our own on the market with the bigger conversion projects. This second job from the Carnival group inside just six months makes that impressively clear".
Arcadia was docking in the big Kaiserdock II where LWB was to build and install a new deck house on Deck 10 weighing 75tons. It was also building 23 passenger cabins and a suite, all with balconies, in the new deck house structure, increasing passenger capacity from 1,952 to 2,000 and passenger cabins from 976 to 1,000. The ship was to get a new 550 m² sun-bathing area above the new cabin block and additional catering and air-conditioning facilities.
Extensive dock and repair work was also scheduled on Arcadia, including underwater hull blasting and conservation as well as repair and conservation above the water-line. Bow thrusters, stabilisers, the two pod drives and all seacocks were being overhauled and life-saving equipment, boats and davits checked. Pipe systems in the engine spaces and accommodation areas were up for renewal.
Elsewhere at LWB, completion of conversion work on the 93m, 4,600dwt platform supply ship Island Centurion was expected as this report went to press. The ship arrived at LWB in October 2012 for conversion into a well-service ship up to mid 2013. However sources told The Motorship that because of additionally requested work the stay had been extended into October 2013. The similar conversion of sister ship Island Captain was reportedly lasting until the end of the year.
Booked in at LWB for 13 days of regular maintenance and class work in October was the 38,600gt AIDAcara. She follows the 68,500gt AIDAbella in April. Mr Pallentin said the order marked not only "the success of our efforts to win AIDA as a customer, but also proof of the good work we have already completed".
Mainly technical work was due this time. It included conservation, tank cleaning, gearing and rudder work, gangway weight tests and seacock inspection. AIDA Cruises personnel themselves organised the conversion and renewal work in the passenger areas.
Also in October, two ships docked together in LWB’s giant 281m long, 38m wide Floating Dock III. It is now planned to widen this dock to accommodate post Panamax ships but for the moment ships are docking together where appropriate to fully utilise dock capacity in the face of high demand. In this case Dock III was shared by SAL’s 90m heavy cargo ship Paula and the 96m Norwegian tanker Stolt Shearwater. Among other smaller ships calling of late were the 100m Gefo tanker Donizetti, overhauled in LWB’s Kaiserdock 1, and Schulte’s 99m LPG tanker Happy Eagle.
Bigger ships tackled by the flexible LWB reportedly included the 33,169dwt HJH bulker Fitnes, the US car transporter Courage and the 63,381dwt Chemtrans Sky. LWB earlier also completed repairs on the 82,265dwt bulker Twinkle Island.
The new German Dry Docks (GDD) appears to have gone quiet about its dock activities of late, despite reports of docks well-occupied with a variety of ship types. The variety reflects competence and experience at member yards Rickmers Lloyd and MWB so it is difficult to understand why GDD is not saying much officially about its work.
But reports said that among callers of late has been the 4,639gt Norwegian seismic ship Atlantic Explorer, which docked at MWB for maintenance and repairs. The 91.3m former trawler is the second seismic ship to call at GDD for such work this year. She follows the 91.4m PGS fleet sister Pacific Explorer, of 6,051gt, in May. Kotug’s 78t bp RT Pioneer docked in GDD’s Dock 1. Harren’s heavy cargo ship 104m Condock II berthed alongside for work while Dock 5 at MWB hosted the 26,833gt container ship Nedlloyd Adriana for conservation work. Her place in dock was taken by sister Nedlloyd Juliana.
The 2,200teu container feeder Alva Rickmers also docked for repairs at MWB. One of four idled feeders bought by Rickmers, she came in for repairs under tow and without power. Elsewhere GDD used a dock at associate LWB to repair the 22,382gt DFDS ferry Sirena Seaways. She sustained bulbous bow and hull damage after ramming Parkeston Quay in Harwich, UK, earlier this year. The 13,054dwt tanker Mississippi Star came in for repair of fire damage also sustained in an English port - this time Teesport.
At Bremerhavener Dock (BREDO) MD Dirk Harms reported that “overall, dock utilisation has been very satisfactory”. Work had however been pretty routine he added with ships mainly in for regular dockings and general work, he told The Motorship. Another report was a little more colourful, noting the wide pallette of ships at BREDO lately or waiting for attention at the adjacent Labradorkai.
Mr Harms, who took over as head of the yard earlier this year, listed the 8,919dwt SAL heavy cargo ships Annegret and Grietje among recent callers for routine work. Others were Candler’s geared multipurpose tweendecker Glory of 8,374dwt, Roerd Braren’s two 28,000dwt multi-purpose tweendeckers African River and African Wind and the 100.5m naval tender Donau. The 8,627dwt Unitas container feeder Marstan also helped keep BREDO busy of late.
A rather more unusual visitor this time was one of the world biggest private luxury yachts, the 133m Al Mirqab, built in Germany in 2004 by Peters Werft. Local sources were quoted as saying the yacht came for lengthy maintenance and repair, some of it on the Labradorkai, but also spent ten days at BREDO. Another visitor, apparently unexpected, was the 9,570gt German adventure cruise ship FTI Berlin which reportedly called for urgent water tank steel repair. Reports said she was due for conversion and renovation this year but an FTI spokesman told The Motorship it was likely to go to a foreign rather than a German yard.
A further German cruise ship, the 8,378gt Hanseatic, finally left BREDO after an extended stay caused by an engine compartment fire. It broke out during welding of a ballast tank. The overhaul also included cabin modernisation, suite renovation and a revamp of the observation lounge.
Also seen at the Labradorkai was the accommodation ship Altmark, which reports said had housed the crews of the Donau and also the 89m sailship Gorch Fock during recent stays at the yard.
Gorch Fock occupied a dock leased from BREDO by Elsflether Werft for this year’s regular annual overhaul. A year earlier she left BREDO after her last overhaul which lasted an unexpected eight months. Extensive hull rust took the ship to three shipyards and left her Navy owners with a bill put at between €8 and €10 million.
This year’s work does not appear to have cost as much. An Elsflether comment suggested it might be around the €5 million mark while a military spokesman told The Motorship it was “within the limits expected” for a routine six week stay covering engine and other maintenance and hull inspection on a sail ship. The military spokesman said the latest overhaul covered an 18,000 hour main engine service and 6,000 hour services on her three auxiliary Diesels.
BREDO clearly finds dock leasing a viable business. The BVT Werft in Bremerhaven earlier leased a dock for this year’s 40,000 sea mile checkover and general overhaul of Germany’s newest sailing ship, the three-masted Alexander von Humboldt II for Germany’s SailTraining Association (DST).
She was completed two years ago at BVT and reports said the 65m long sailship was in good shape after a thorough check. Her captain Jens Middendorf was quoted as saying he was amazed at the almost complete absence of growth on her hull.
The ship’s modern equipment was serviced during the 12 day stay. Jirka Menke at the DST reported suppliers Volvo serviced her D16 MH 552kW main engine, auxiliary D12D-E of 310kW and her emergency diesel Type D7A-AT of 116kW. Other manufacturers checked bow thruster and variable pitch propeller and her sea valves were overhauled. Guarantee work was carried out on the ballast system and pipe network and “diverse” repairs and improvements were reported in the engine room while a useful small loading boom was added.
Alexander von Humboldt II is a non-profit foundation and much of its yard as well as sea operation work is done by volunteers. “We welcome mechanics and electricians,” said Jirka Menke hopefully.
In Hamburg, Blohm+Voss finally saw the back of the FPSO Enquest Producer after life extension modernisation and conversion which lasted over a year and a half.
The former 92,000dwt FPSO Uisge Gorm got not only a new name but also new refinery technology and a complete engine, ballast and storage tank overhaul. Her crew quarters were renovated and her steel structures reinforced.
A second, smaller FPSO at B+V, PetroJarl Banff, was due to leave in the third quarter of the year, as this report was going to press. That 20,800dwt vessel came to the yard in September 2012.
Petrojarl Banff (ex Ramform Banff) has undergone turret modification and acquired a new bilge keel and anchor winch. Her flare tower and other structures have been re-enforced, blast wall extended and process and mechanical plant overhauled. She has also undergone class work and general repairs.
Both FPSOs have moved around the yard a lot as work on them progressed and that lent credence to comments in September to The Motorship by yard spokesman Michael Brasse.
Acknowledging that not a lot of new repair projects had been booked in during the summer Mr Brasse explained: “Our repair sector is still fully occupied with the Enquest Producer and Petrojarl Banff orders.As a result, not much has happened elsewhere on the repair front”.
He was talking about summer however and things were changing as this report went to press. In early October B+V matched BREDO’s Al Nirqab and docked another of the world’s biggest luxury private yachts – the adventure yacht Octopus - for overhaul. It will have been a coup for the Hamburg yard in the increasingly competitive German yacht refit sector. Lucrative too, said observers, because often long dock and berth times are needed for mega-yacht overhaul or conversion.
It was reportedly the first time that the 126m Octopus, also German-built, was at B+V. The yard said only that the 9,932gt ship had docked in Dock 10 “for a routine refit” but gave no details of the work. Observant locals noted, however, that a large radome for satellite communications had been mounted on the ship.
Worthy of note earlier were the docking and general repairs on the giant port crane HHLA III and the docking, rudder and bottom repairs on the 14,355dwt hopper dredger Barent Zanen.
Michael Brasse said in September that, while nothing was written in stone, he expected both FPSOs to have left before the onset of the yard’s cruise ship repair and overhaul season.
However, at least one cruise ship had already docked as October got underway even though Petrojarl Banff was still at the yard. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises spokeswoman Anne Berger told The Motorship the 28,890gt Europa, a regular customer of Blohm + Voss, went in for 13 days. During her stay “the usual technical maintenance, overhaul and conservation works” were carried out, including cleaning and maintenance of her two Azipods, she said. Ms Berger added, however, she was not aware of any work carried out in the engine room. Elsewhere suites were revamped, new carpets laid and the pool area renovated, she said.
Germany’s small ship repair and conversion business remains the backbone of the industry and continues to keep dozens of small yards busy from the Ems to the Peene, as well as inland. They may not handle the big motorships but they do make a giant contribution to a sector in which offshore repair and newbuild projects like those currently at B+V, LWB or Nordic, are the exception rather than the rule.
Even Dirk Harms at busy BREDO takes time out to report the diverse small tugs, pontoons and coastal tankers which berth alongside his big ships and help fill the employment gaps. For many other bigger yards too it is now a matter of course to snap up small tonnage – tonnage they would once not even have looked at.
Many of the same small ferries and local excursion ships turn up year after year for their regular overhaul or services, keeping small yard work forces busy year round. They usually go to the same local yards but the servicing of hundreds of official workboats, specialised ships and ocean-going fisheries and research ships run by German Government agencies across the country regularly gets shared among the yards.
One yard in favour now is Lindenau in Kiel which completed the latest month-long overhaul of the 72m German fisheries protection ship Seefalke. Owned by the German Government and operated by the Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE), the versatile 1,981gt ship called for class renewal and other routine work.
The yard also reported compressor and hose work late summer on the 53.7m Bitunamel Feldmann offshore tug/supply ship Noortruck. It told The Motorship that a compressor upgrade, small repairs and a stern anchor installation were also carried out on the 82.4m Fehn cargo vessel Fehn Calais.
Another non-government vessel at Lindenau was 52m long former excursion boat Gloria D for extensive overhaul including engines and for conversion reportedly into a private yacht. Reports said she had been bought by a business man in Stade after lying idle locally for years and had been renamed Atlantis but her future was unknown as of October.
Bigger fish like the 37,557dwt tanker Seychelles Progress also came in for, among other things, engine overhaul. She’s the latest in a series of former Lindenau-built tankers to call. The Navy frigate Lübeck underwent a sixth month overhaul and modernisation at ADM Kiel during which, among other things, her MTU main engine and auxiliaries were swapped.
Lindenau, insolvent for several years, now appears on steadier feet since it became part of Privinvest Holding at the start of the year and joined the group’s two other local repair and newbuilding facilities - Nobiskrug in Rendsburg and ADM Kiel (the former HDW Gaarden). Together the trio with a combined work force of about 900 now represent a potent new repair base which could well attract a lot of traffic and voyage repair work on and around the busy Kiel Fiord and the Kiel Canal.
“The market is reacting increasingly to this very favourable location” said Privinvest joint MD Holger Kahl recently. He and fellow joint MD Susanne Wiegand said Lindenau had been in demand since it joined the group and that unidentified offshore ships had called for fitting-out and re-equipping as well as small and large workboats. Investment and modernisation there were continuing, they said.
They also said their yards were well-booked for the next three and a half years. Most of that is clearly private mega yacht and naval newbuilding but it also reportedly includes a fair slice of repair and maintenance. The potential for yacht work at German locations from Kiel to Rostock is clearly growing but contract details remain few and that will not change. Privinvest will no doubt remain contractually bound not to say much about yacht work – as will other leading German private yacht builders like Lürssen.
However, when Privinvest does decide to tell the media about a particular commercial repair project, it goes overboard – like it did with the refurbishment of a ro-ro pontoon-feeder for the Port of Kiel.
Working in the docks of ADM Kiel, Nobiskrug refurbished the 1,800ton floating pontoon to carry a 32m wide steel deck bridge 23m between ro-ro ships and the shore while also accommodating ship ramps.The new ro-ro facility is capable of bearing axle loads up to100 tons and is part of a new €5.4 million revamp in Kiel’s Ostuferhafen cargo and cruise ship handling site. Nobiskrug also carried out Kiel Canal engineering repairs and has just completed the renovation of a 1,400ton Brunsbüttel lock door. The work on that 46.5m long and 9.36m wide facility was also carried out at ADM Kiel by Nobiskrug – a combination of competencies now regularly used by Privinvest and clearly proving advantageous.
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