Grand Bahama Shipyard has a strong year ahead for refit work and has achieved a ‘step-change’ in the work it carries out. Its chief executive explains
Grand Bahama Shipyard (GBS) is riding high – 2018 is a record year for repairs, refurbishments and revitalisations at the yard, with 29 cruise ships on its orderbook for this year.
This follows a robust 2017, when 23 cruise ships underwent refits at the shipyard.
The shipyard welcomed a new chief executive David Skentelbery in March this year. Mr Skentelbery has been with the company since January 2016, initially as chief commercial officer and more recently as acting chief executive. He has big plans for the yard’s future, with the cruise sector currently contributing 60% of the yard’s work. “We want to grow this and have the ability and capacity to do this,” he said.
Mr Skentelbery will play a key role in building strong relationships with government officials and other stakeholders – an important responsibility in being able to make improvements to the shipyard, further develop a highly-skilled workforce and sustain the shipyard as one of Grand Bahama’s largest and most significant economic contributors.
Commenting on the work the yard has undertaken in 2017 and so far in 2018, he told Passenger Ship Technology “The business is doing well. We are growing the capability to do larger, more complex projects and we intend to continue to do that. We are gaining in resources and competencies to do bigger projects.”
He singled out how project management was a very strong skill of the yard. “It is a core competency of the yard and means that we have the ability to demonstrate to cruise lines [that we can] take on [a] larger scope of work rather than traditional ship repair.”
Indeed, the cruise ship projects over 2017 and 2018 have set a record not just through the number of them but also through their scope. Mr Skentelbery said “We are confident that we can take on a greater scope of work traditionally managed by cruise lines.”
“That was a step-change in the scope of the work that we manage”
An example is the work the company carried out in Q3 2017 on Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Elation. This was the first time that GBS provided Carnival Cruise Line with a turn-key solution for a major revitalisation project that included deck fabrications for cabins and passenger areas and other complex steel fabrications, along with installing a ducktail and sponsons. GBS managed cabin contractor Almaco.
Mr Skentelbery summed up “ It was a step-change in the scope of the work that we manage.”
Risk and costs are reduced by allowing the shipyard to put the package together and manage the complete solution which is a benefit for the cruise operator. “Cruise ship companies are very busy with newbuilds and refurbishments so having a company like GBS that has more to offer than traditional shipyards is a good advantage for them and something that we will develop in future,” said Mr Skentelbery.
He explained that putting the package together was very much a partnership approach with the cruise line.
The company is now working on another project for Carnival Cruise Line that is similar to Carnival Elation. GBS’ turn-key solutions will include fabricating and installating new steel structures, including a cabin block structure that will incorporate additional cabins; new structures that will become balconies for mid-ship and aft cabins on several deck levels; fabricating and installating a ducktail and sponsons; and steel fabrications as base components for interior work that will enhance general public spaces. GBS will also fabricate the major support structures for a new waterpark. Standard overhauls to piping and mechanical systems are planned, along with complete hull treatment, thruster, stabiliser and ABB Azipod overhauls. The timescale is 30 days.
Other notable projects in 2017 include positioning additional diesel generator modules on four vessels and installing a cyclo-convertor, the latter being a collaborative project between GBS, ABB and Carnival.
On the hotel side, GBS supported the Carnival hotel refurbishment team with interior structural modification works on several vessels.
Other major work included Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s (RCCL) Grandeur of the Seas, which received a scrubber system, enhancements to upper-deck aluminium and steel structures and complete hull blasting and application of silicone coating.
While Princess Cruise Line returned with two vessels, Caribbean Princess and Pacific Princess. In both, GBS replaced approximately 11 tonnes of steel in structural projects on their hulls and upper decks.
Celebrity Summit was also drydocked at GBS last year for a major Azipod overhaul. The vessel was ready to return to operations within seven days.
Another cruise operator,Norwegian Cruise Line, drydocked five ships within the first half of 2017. Among the most notable projects of these five ships were the works done on Norwegian Sky, Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Jade. GBS supported Rolls-Royce on the overhaul of CPP and thrusters on Norwegian Sky. Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Jade’s extensive work programmes included full blast and applying silicone coatings, installing new ballast water treatment system pipelines and overhauling thrusters, stabilisers and Azipods.
RCCL will have two revitalisation projects in 2018 – major projects will run concurrently with GBS turn-key projects of fabricating and installing aluminium deck blocks for incorporating suites. On these projects, GBS will also fabricate the major support structures for new waterparks.
Holland America Line will add cabins on several of its vessels, to give customers direct access from the cabin to the promenade deck.
Commenting on the refit market, Mr Skentelbery said “There is a requirement to upgrade some older ships, so we are seeing larger, more complex revitilisation projects.”
He said the challenge was the timeframe in which to deliver a “safe and environmentally-friendly project”. He emphasised that planning and risk management were the keys to success. “All the projects have [their] own individual challenges and complexities, but a seven-day project can be as challenging as a 27-day project.”
Commenting on environmental upgrades being carried out by the yard, Mr Skentelbery said “We have been carrying out scrubber retrofits on various vessels for some time now. We will get ourselves ready for LNG in the cruise market. We have just started looking at this but need to fully understand what is coming towards us and work closely with cruise lines to understand what they require from us to be ready for them.”
Commenting on the cruise retrofit shipyard market, he said “There is competition out there – shipowners have choices. Our location is a great advantage, being so close to the US main cruise ports, but we are not complacent about that because there is competition on the other side of the Atlantic.”
But Mr Skentelbery said “we believe we are competitive in terms of capability and price”.
David Skentelbery (Grand Bahama Shipyard)
The board of directors of the Grand Bahama Shipyard approved the appointment of David Skentelbery as chief executive in March. His role is to oversee the yard’s overall direction and management.
Mr Skentelbery has been with the company since January 2016, initially as chief commercial officer and more recently as acting chief executive. He has been in the marine industry for over 40 years and has worked globally in senior management roles and board positions both in shipping companies and shipyards.
Mr Skentelbery “will play a key role in building strong relationships with government officials and other stakeholders – an important responsibility in being able to make ongoing improvements to the shipyard, further develop a highly skilled workforce and sustain the shipyard as one of the Grand Bahama’s largest and most significant economic contributors,” the board said in a statement when he was appointed.