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Chinese yards active in passengership refurbs, next progression is newbuilds

Chinese yards active in passengership refurbs, next progression is newbuilds
One telling snippet from the Cruise Shipping Miami 2015 panel on Newbuilding & Refurbishment came from the back of the room during the Q&A session, when a naval architect told  panelists and audience alike about the excellent reburbishment of the 1,100 pax ferry Fior di Levante.

The vessel went back into Greek service in late 2014, after major works - undertaken at a COSCO yard in China.

The movement to the East for both newbuilding and refitting of passenger vessels provided one of several important themes for the session.

Moderator, Raoul Jack, from PFJ Maritime Consulting Ltd, actively working with Asian yards, mentioned the recent MOU between Carnival Corp and CSSC on a newbuild, with considerable input from Fincantieri.

Jack offered his view on the question of whether China’s yards will be able ascend into the roster of facilities active in the passenger sector with the observation: ‘Yes they are already refurbishing'…and on the question of newbuilds, 'where there is a will, there’s a way.’

Costa has already completed a major refurbishment of Costa Atlantica (including adding balconies) at Huarun Dadong Dockyard (HRDD), located in Shanghai - not coincidentally at the centerpoint of the burgeoning Chinese market discussed throughout the three day conference sessions.

Each of the panel presentations circled back to the simple fact that refurbishment of ships requires an enormous amount of logistical and workflow planning.

Kevin Douglas, RCCL’s vp of technical projects, newbuilding, in describing a variety of such revenue-boosting initiatives undertaken to boost onboard revenue offered the statistic that drydockings are now costing $2.5m per day.

Presenter Brynley Davis, managing director of The Image Group provided a different example of profitable refitting- where shipboard photo displays (of as many as 50,000 images per voyages) are now displayed digitally, freeing up space for an additional ten cabins in one case study.

Environmental projects, notably retrofitting of scrubbers, add to the workload.

Scrubbers were covered in detail by Carnival Corporations vp technology, Michael Kaczmarek, who described a number of early successes with open-loop scrubbers, but noted the occasional difficulties that first-movers might encounter.

The workflow numbers reveal the enormous complexity- with Douglas noting that: ‘On a bigger project, we will track 6.5 to 7 thousand tasks’.

It takes time for yards to build up refurbishment capabilities; panelist Ignacio Galan from Navantia yard in Cadiz, Spain detailed the yard’s multi-year relationship with RCCL, noting that the reputation for reliability and knowledge take time to build up. As the yard has taken on more complex projects, ‘good logistics is essential’, he explained.

A theme emerging from the remarks of Douglas, and that of floorings supplier Jaco van Overbeek from the maritime group within Bolidt is that newbuild experience can be transferred to refitting, and vice versa.

Douglas described experiments with virtual balconies on inside cabins first deployed during a docking of Navigator of the Seas, but then adapted to the newbuild Quantum of the Seas.

Likewise, van Overbeek talked about the adaptation of Future-Teak (replacement for the aging wood floorings typically installed during dockings) to newly constructed vessels. The Bolidt executive noted another feedback loop - the complexity of the drydockings has brought about a move to pre-fabrication, better suited to workflow issues where builders coordinate numerous sub-contracts.