This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2018 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
Located less than 100 miles from cruise line homeports in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Grand Bahama Shipyard (GBS) has grown alongside the cruise ship industry. In 2007, it handled 18 cruise ships, 56 commercial vessels and 31 smaller wet dock projects. Growth has continued with the yard having serviced 20 cruise ships and 49 commercial ships in 2016, and a further 23 cruise ships last year.
GBS has an excellent reputation as a full-service ship repair yard. It has three floating dry docks with a lifting capacity of up to 82,500 tons displacement, serviced piers, and wharves with onsite capabilities for performing steel, aluminium, mechanical, paint and electrics works. These onboard repairs are supported by fully equipped workshops.
“We listen to our customers and are very aware of industry developments and future requirements,” says Graham Couser, vice president of sales and marketing at GBS. “We have become more than a yard; we are now integral to our customer’s requirements for successful dockings. Our goal is to improve and increase our capabilities in the next five years, to handle everything from routine maintenance and occasional emergency repair projects to major refurbishment programmes.”
One notable development will be the use of LNG as a fuel. In readiness, GBS has secured GTT certification for containment system repairs and prepared a ‘clean room’ where LNG pumps and valves can be overhauled in a controlled environment.
The yard has also invested in its paint equipment – a vital element of any repair project. “Some owners choose to renew the complete paint system, while others choose to ‘touch up’ the existing system,” says Couser. “GBS has invested in the most modern hull-blasting equipment for ultra-high-pressure water blasting. This system constantly provides the required profile for good adhesion of the various products now available, especially the silicon-based coatings preferred by the cruise lines.”
An extensive 2018 cruise repair schedule is well underway, with vessels from industry majors Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Pullmantur Cruises Ship Management, and V Ships Leisure already completed and in service.
Highlights of the year so far include the revitalisation of a Carnival vessel, completed within 30 days. GBS offered a turnkey solution for the fabrication and installation of new steel structures, including a cabin block structure that incorporates additional cabins, new structures which became balconies for midship and aft cabins on several deck levels, and steel fabrications as base components for interior work which will enhance public spaces. GBS will fabricate the major support structures for the new waterpark, and will make and install a ducktail and sponsons, which increase the stability of the vessel to safely accommodate these additional upgrades and attractions. Standard overhauls to piping and mechanical systems are planned, along with complete hull treatment, thruster and stabiliser overhauls and ABB Azipod overhaul. On another Carnival Cruise Line vessel, ‘bridge wing suites’ – which have proven popular with guests on other ships in the company’s fleet – will be added.
Royal Caribbean International will have two revitalisation projects in 2018. Major projects will run concurrently with the GBS turnkey projects of fabricating and installing aluminium deck blocks for the incorporation of suites. On these projects GBS will also fabricate the major support structures for new waterparks. A success from the first ‘signature of excellence’ programme, Holland America Line will add ‘Lanai Cabins’ on several vessels, giving guests direct access from the cabin to the promenade deck.
GBS expends considerable resources in planning projects to ensure work is done in a timely manner. “The initial enquiry and tentative booking can be discussed at least five years in advance,” says Couser. “The detailed planning and advance preparation process for which GBS is known, especially where the addition of new steel or aluminium structures will be required, can begin as far ahead as two years, giving time for engineering studies and classification society approvals and timely, cost-effective procurement.”
GBS has a core team of staff and around 800 highly skilled contracted workers – and this can grow to 1,500 depending on requirements. “Labour resourcing is vital to any project’s success and a key element in the process,” says Couser.
Once all the information is collected the plan is used by all to track progress during the work – but it doesn’t finish there. “After the project is completed the group gets together, evaluates it and suggests improvements for future projects,” says Couser. “The ambition is always to increase the quality while reducing time and cost.”
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