IBI’s global round-up of the key superyacht refit operators and the work being carried out in 2019
Superyachts are also becoming more sophisticated in terms of design and the amount of technology on-board, resulting in shipyards having to offer a wider range of services for contracted jobs.
Consequently, demand for shipyard services is on the rise. Major investments are being made worldwide that not only boost capacity, but allow repair and refit companies to cater for a wide spread of yachts. These investments are being made by superyacht builders entering or expanding into the refit market, existing refit businesses, and newcomers that see an opportunity.
There are estimated to be well over 300 companies that participate in superyacht refit and repair. As superyachts are extending their cruising ranges, especially into the Asia-Pacific region, the need for support facilities has widened and both existing and new companies are offering facilities that allow superyachts to be more adventurous in their cruising activities, as reflected by the growing number of expedition and explorer superyachts. For a full round-up of gloabl refit activity read on:
The vast majority of refit work is undertaken in Europe, with countries such as France, Spain, the Netherlands and Germany being the leading players. In northern Europe, several of the leading yacht-builders such as Lürssen, Abeking & Rasmussen, Feadship, Amels and Royal Huisman feature among the largest refit businesses.
In Germany, the Lürssen group of shipyards accounts for around three quarters of the superyacht refit work performed in the country. This includes a sizeable portion by Blohm+Voss, which for the past few years has been part of the Lürssen Group. Research on the German market by the Superyacht Group points to the average length of superyacht refitted by Lürssen as 76m and more than 2,600 gross tonnes.
The combined facility resource of the Lürssen group yards includes dry docks of 351m and 220m, covered sheds up to 170m, and lifts of 2,500 and 4,500 tonnes. The maximum size of yacht it can handle is over 200m.
Another large superyacht builder, Abeking & Rasmussen, is another leading company in the refit market with its facilities including lifts up to 2,000 tonnes and a shed of 120m. Other German yacht-builders active in refit include Bremen-based Drettmann Yachts, Kaiserwerft in Rostock, Kusch Yachts, Lloydwerft in Bremerhaven, and Nobiskrug in Rendsburg. The latter’s facilities include drydocks up to 426m.
Lloydwerft, which has built large yachts in the past such as the 115m Luna, has more recently expanded its yacht refit activity following its takeover by the Genting Hong Kong group, Asia’s largest cruise ship operator and the owner of Wider Yachts. Genting is also a major shareholder in the Grand Banks group.
There has been a major expansion of refit work in the Netherlands, especially by the main superyacht builders, with new facilities recently being opened or acquired. Nearly 90% of refit work in the Netherlands, according to the Superyacht Group research, is between 30m-75m with the remainder up to 120m.
Oceanco recently acquired two large halls formerly owned by Heerema Fabrication, a builder of offshore constructions located in the port of Rotterdam. The two halls, each 204m long x 50m wide and 36m and 43m high respectively, will be used by Oceanco for both new-build and refit work. The latter will be on Oceanco-built yachts. The company had been able to construct superyachts up to 140m, so this new acquisition will considerably boost its capacity.
Feadship has always included refits as an integral part of its branding and this has resulted in it being the largest superyacht refit business in the Netherlands. The company recently opened its fourth shipyard to add to the considerable facilities. The other three already provide covering not only for new builds, but also refit.
The new yard is located in the port of Amsterdam and was developed over a two-year period to boost Feadship’s capacity to handle larger yachts requiring deeper water.
Also setting up in Amsterdam in recent weeks is superyacht-builder Royal Huisman, which manages its refit activities through its Huisfit division. The new Amsterdam facility formerly belonged to Holland Jachtbouw. This facility was taken on from ownership by the port and will be used both for new builds and refits. Royal Huisman CEO Jan Timmerman commented at the opening: “In extending our facilities in the Amsterdam region, we will be able to properly meet the growing demand among current and new customers. This second shipyard will, over a longer period of time, serve as an excellent addition to our existing site in Vollenhove both for new builds and refits.”
Amels, the superyacht new-build and refit arm of the Damen Shipyards Group, is also very active in the refit market and with its two shipyards in Vlissingen, offers considerable capacity for both very large superyacht new builds and refits. Amels counts among the top superyacht refitters in the Netherlands. Its facilities include the main Vlissingen shipyard, which rates as the largest Dutch yacht-building and refit yard by volume.
The main yard is complemented by the Vlissingen East facility, a former naval shipyard that remains largely a commercial and naval yard, but is increasingly carrying out superyacht work. Its facilities include a 210m (690ft) build hall able to be used for both new-build outfits and refits, and a 215m (706ft) covered dock which can accommodate the world’s largest superyachts.
Another important yard is Balk Shipyard, located in Urk, which handles yachts up to 65m and a refit volume similar to that of Amels, making it one of the top Dutch superyacht refitters.
Other Dutch superyacht builders undertaking refit work include Hakvoort Shipyard, ICON Yachts and ICON Refits, Jongert, Moonen and Mulder Shipyard. Of these companies, Hakvoort can handle yachts up to 63m, Jongert up to 60m, and Moonen and Mulder, up to 50m.
At ICON Yachts, the rise in the volume of refit work it secured has been the trigger for its shareholders to proceed with a major expansion plan. This included building a new floating shed in order to welcome more and bigger projects. The new shed has almost doubled capacity. It is 130m long x 30m wide with 28m of mast clearance, and was built in the latter half of 2018.
2018 was a particularly busy year for refit projects, including the 82m Secret (Abeking & Rasmussen), the 67m Global (Lürssen), the 62m Virginian (Feadship) and other confidential projects.
The best-known superyacht refit company in the UK is Pendennis Shipyard. While also being a new-build yard, Pendennis is primarily involved with refit work of superyachts from 30m-100m. In 2017 it handled a record 11 refit projects, resulting in record company turnover.
In October last year, Pendennis announced an expansion of its Mediterranean operations with the development of a new refit facility at Vilanova Grand Marina – Barcelona. This new centre will add to Pendennis’s base in Palma. The Vilanova facility will be equipped with a 640-tonne travel lift and there are available berths for superyachts from 25m-120m.
The UK superyacht refit sector experienced the collapse of two of its players – namely, Burgess Marine and Solent Refit. Most of the assets of Burgess were acquired by Southampton Marine Services (SMS), which has been active in the superyacht refit market for a number of years. It recently teamed up with Hythe Shipyard, owned by Fairline Yachts, to offer a repair and refit service package covering the Solent area of the UK and very relevant to superyachts and small boats.
The Solent area is the main area in the UK where refit work is undertaken. Other companies in this area are Southampton Yacht Services, part of the Oyster Yachts business, Endeavour Quay Ltd and Hamble Yacht Services. These three companies can respectively handle yachts up to 42m, 38m and 30m for repair or refit work.
In the southwest of the UK, yacht services business Yacht Projects has linked up with the Penzance dry dock for securing refit contracts for yachts up to 75m.
In the Baltic Sea region, companies in Finland, Poland and Sweden are active in superyacht refit work. Baltic Yachts, based at Jakobstad in Finland, has the capacity to work on refit projects on yachts up to 80m. In Gdansk in Poland, Conrad SA performs refits alongside its new-build operations and is able cope with superyachts up to 60m. In Sweden, superyachts up to 40m can be worked on by Swede Ship Marine AB in Fagerfjail.
The French superyacht refit sector is one of the biggest globally and has a raft of well-known companies and locations that share in this market in places such as La Ciotat, Marseille, Toulon and La Rochelle.
Of any location in France, La Ciotat epitomises superyacht refit with its main facilities now overseen by MB92 La Ciotat following its acquisition of Compositeworks and the Lursssen/B+V operation. The huge complex includes a 200m drydock, which will be supplemented by a 4,000-tonne shiplift platform as from the last quarter of 2021. MB92 won the 35-year concession to operate this new facility, which will be able to deal with up to eight superyachts up to 105m simultaneously.
MB92 in Spain and France is a member of the ICOMIA Superyacht Refit Group and other French members include Monaco Marine and IMS, both names that are inherently associated with superyacht refit activities.
Monaco Marine, with the exception of its small facility in Monaco, operates seven locations in France which include Antibes, La Seyne, Marseille, La Ciotat and Beaulieu sur Mer. Last year the group opened two new sites in Marseille and La Seyne-Toulon representing a multimillion-euro investment. The new sites increased its portfolio to eight locations and the ability to handle superyachts up to 140m (460ft).
In Marseille, Monaco Marine operates a refit and maintenance facility for superyachts up to 140m. The new shipyard has a 320m (1,050ft) dock and is equipped with two workshops of 250m2 each over a ground area of 8,700m2.
In La Seyne-Toulon, a new €15m facility includes a 40,000m2 ground area and a 14,645m2 water space. This new yard was initially dedicated to the handling of yachts up to 55m (181ft) with a lift capacity up to 500 tonnes. The yard will also have a specially-built slipway which will allow for the hauling-out and launching of large multihulls.
Monaco Marine says that La Seyne will be unique on the French Riviera as it has the capacity to cope with as many as 28 yachts at one time, both ashore and afloat. The company plans to go further and is already looking at handling much larger yachts.
IMS operates from two sites close to Toulon known as the IMS 300 and IMS 700 shipyards. The two yards cover a total area of 77,000m2, of which 20,000m2 are sheds. There are two travel lifts of 320 and 670 tonnes capacity respectively. There is a total of 25 floating berths for superyachts up to 80m. As a relatively new participant in this market, it has quickly built up a strong market presence.
In Marseille, two of the companies operating there are Sud Marine Shipyard and Palumbo Marseille. The former operates a facility with two dry docks and can serve superyachts up to 170m. The Palumbo Marseille facility can accommodate superyachts up to 126m.
Another well-known player in this market is the Atlantic Refit Center in La Rochelle, a busy refit facility that includes two dry docks of 176m and 101m.
The two key superyacht refit hubs in Spain are Palma and Barcelona, but like France and Italy, the country boasts a bank of other companies widely distributed on its coast. The three front runners in the superyacht refit market in Spain are MB92 in Barcelona, Astilleros de Mallorca and the STP Shipyard in Palma.
Major expansion is underway at MB92 and STP recently installed a new 1,000-tonne capacity travel-lift, which is the largest in Europe.
At MB92, the company announced a restructuring earlier this year to better manage its next phase of growth. That growth centres on expansion both in Barcelona and La Ciotat. The latter is covered elsewhere, but in Barcelona a new 4,800-tonne capacity shiplift platform is due to be commissioned later this year.
MB92 is majority-owned by the Turkish Dogus Group. With its planned expansion at both Barcelona and La Ciotat, plus the 2017 acquisition of Compositeworks and that in 2018 of B+V La Ciotat, MB92 reported a significant increase in turnover at both yards. As such, MB92 says, La Ciotat is currently operating at full capacity.
The range of yachts that visited MB92 in 2018 has also grown in average size, thanks in part to a number of new clients in the 100m-plus bracket – a segment whose occupancy rates increased by 25% in Barcelona.
Other key Spanish refit players include Atollvic Shipyard, Navantia SA, Varadero Sotogrande Shipyard at Marina Sotogrande, Varadero Port Denia, Varadero Valencia, Varador 2000 and Vilanoa Grand Marina, where Pendennis Shipyard is developing its new Mediterranean refit base.
With Gibraltar being a popular port of call for superyachts, especially those taking on fuel, this small territory also offers a shipyard facility well experienced and equipped for superyacht work. Gibdock Ltd offers three drydocks up to 272m, of which the smallest one can be partially covered in.
The yard’s location at the entrance to the Med makes it an ideal location for handling superyachts and it is an important part of the company’s workload. Gibraltar port is able to accommodate the largest superyachts and offers a good range of berthing facilities complementing the shipyard.
Italy – Med coast
Italy’s Mediterranean coast hosts a long list of yacht builders, several of which do refits, as well as dedicated refit and repair companies. This long coast includes such ports as Genoa, La Spezia, Savona, Naples, Pisa and Viareggio to name just a few that are bases for refit business. Among the yacht-builders on this coast active in the superyacht refit market are Tankoa, Otam, Mondomarine (now a Palumbo Group brand), Baglietto, the Italian Sea Group with Nuovi Cantieri Apuania, Vismara, Lusben as a division of the Azimut Benetti group, and Perini Navi.
One of the best-known refit businesses is Amico, with branches in Genoa and Loano. This is one of the biggest superyacht refit companies in the world and is currently undergoing a major expansion designed to create a new Megayacht Hub in Genoa. Started last year, it is set to be completed in 2019.
Amico’s facilities were already substantial, with a range of large sheds and dry docks for the largest of superyachts. The multimillion-euro expansion will strengthen the company’s leading position and increase capacity, focusing on repair and refit of superyachts in the 40m-150m range.
The main element of the expansion is a 15,000m2 yard expansion, including the construction of a 4,000-tonne shiplift capable of hoisting yachts up to the displacement limit (around 95m), with a shore-moving system capable of transferring yachts on the hard without interference between the different slots.
The three open on-the-hard slots, plus the six refit sheds for yachts up to 60m, will still be operational together with the 835-tonne travel lift. The two covered, graving dry docks will benefit from improvements, and further open graving dock solutions up to 200m will provide added value to the existing services.
The expansion includes a new technical marina with changes being made to a 60,000m2 area providing new quays, improved logistics and crew dedicated areas. This marina will be able to berth superyachts up to 110m.
In total, Italy’s Mediterranean coast hosts some 50 companies that in one way or another service the superyacht market through repairs, maintenance or refits. This means that any cruising superyacht does not have to travel far to find an answer to its needs.
In March 2020, Viareggio will once again play host to YARE, the international business event dedicated to refit and aftersales in the superyacht industry. The event has steadily grown in popularity, with 13 yacht-builders and around 700 companies from the five industry sub-sectors (shipyards, refit, suppliers, ground and marine services) expected to attend next year’s 10th anniversary event.
Malta’s strategic location in the centre of the Med and its long shipbuilding and repair history make it an important hub for superyacht repair and refit.
The main player is Palumbo Malta Superyachts Ltd, which operates a yard providing two dry docks of 164m and 144m with a full range of skills and services. The smaller of the docks has a retractable cover and the yard’s provision for crew has been enhanced with new accommodation and sports facilities.
Other key players in Malta are the Melita Marine Group and the Manoel Island Yacht Yard. Melita offers facilities including floating docks for superyachts up to 100m or more. It offers a full range of services and crew facilities. The Manoel Island Yacht Yard can cope with superyachts up to 50m and provides a full skill set and crew facilities. The Bezzina Shipyard also handles superyachts up to 50m.
The main refit yard in Croatia is NCP Repair Shipyard at Sibenik, where facilities include a 75m drydock, lifts up to 1,500 tonnes, and a 70m shed. In 2017, NCP had a change of ownership with the Swiss Maritime Investment Co becoming the majority owner. In addition to superyachts, which is a major part of NCP’s workload, it also handles commercial and naval vessels. The Swiss company is understood to have shareholders from Denmark and the US, as well as Switzerland.
With the country’s strong yacht charter market, Croatia hosts a number of other refit companies which include Avangard Shipyards and Istria Yachting d.o.o. in Pula, Brodogradiliste Cres in Cres, Brodogradiliste Punat Shipyard in Punat, and Servisni Centar Trogir (SCT) in Trogir. These latter yards offer a range of facilities including dry docks, shed and lifts for handling superyachts up to a maximum of 160m.
With its long maritime heritage, of which yachts have been an integral part, Greece is working to expand both its superyacht new-build and refit activities.
One possible addition to the country’s established core of shipyards was a plan by the Chinese group Cosco, which runs Piraeus port. Under its expansion plans for the port, a new shipyard facility with a large synchrolift was being planned with superyachts as a key focus for the new facility. However, this project is now in doubt after concerns from Greece’s archaeological authorities were raised about the planned site for the yard.
Greece boasts about half a dozen shipyards actively engaged in superyacht repairs and refits. These include Atlas Shipyards in Piraeus, Halkitis Shipyard at Perama, Spanopoulos Shipyard in Piraeus, Privatsea Marine Services at Elefsis, and Neorion Shipyards on the island of Syros. All of these yards are able to handle superyachts in the 100m-160m range and undertake superyacht work alongside commercial and sometimes naval contracts.
Italy | Adriatic coast
Italy’s Adriatic coast is home to several refit businesses. Ancona, which hosts such builders as Ferretti Group’s Superyacht Shipyard and Palumbo Yachts working with the ISA and Columbus brands, is also a centre of refit work. Through its CRN brand, the Ferretti Group provides a full refit service in Ancona where it aims to handle two or more projects a year. Palumbo is open to refit work, although this is mainly done at its yards in Malta and Savona.
A relative newcomer to Italy’s Adriatic coast refit businesses is Pesaro-based Cantiere Rossini, which is now completed after three years’ work and a total investment of €25m. The new yard is designed to handle superyachts of up to 55m (180ft) and offers a comprehensive range of facilities which include a 560-tonne travel lift manufactured by Cimolai Technology, 15,000m2 of hard standing, and a private marina with 12 berths for yachts of up to 55m. There will also be a range of crew facilities.
Other companies performing refit and repair work on Italy’s Adriatic coast include Cantiere Navale Raineri Srl in Bari, Cantieri Navali San Rocco in Trieste, Cantieri Navali Chioggia in Chioggia, Dominator in Fano, and Rimini Service Srl and Timone Yachts in Trieste and Senigallia.
In Montenegro, a new yacht repair and refit facility is set to become operational in Q1, 2020. Located at Bijela, just across Boka Bay from the Porto Montenegro marina, this former commercial repair yard is being redeveloped into a dedicated superyacht facility through a 50:50 partnership by Adriatic Marinas, the owner of Porto Montenegro, and the Dutch Damen Shipyards Group which owns Amels. This is a €20m project and the cost of cleaning up the former commercial shipyard was funded by the Montenegrin government. Recruitment of an anticipated eventual workforce of 450 has recently commenced.
The new yard, which will operate under a long-term concession from the government, will offer facilities for superyachts up to 100m or more, including a drydock. There will be space to work on more than a dozen yachts at one time and within five years the management foresees it handling around 100 superyachts a year. The new facility will be called Montenegro Yacht Service (MYS).
As one of the world’s leading superyacht-building nations and a major shipbuilding country, it is not surprising that Turkey is also a leader in the superyacht refit and repair area. Istanbul, Antalya and Bodrum are key centres for this activity.
Turkish yacht-builders participating in this type of work are Turquoise Yachts, Barka Shipyard Dunya Yachts, the Ned Ship Group, Perini Navi, RMK Marine and Sarp Yachts. A full refit service is offered by these companies catering for all sizes of superyachts from 30m to over 100m.
With the Middle East being a rising yachting destination, especially the UAE with Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the demand for repairs and refits is increasing. Dubai, with its Al Jaddaf and Dubai Maritime City facilities, hosts a number of companies providing refit and repair services for larger yachts and superyachts.
Gulf Craft, as the largest yacht builder in the region, undertakes some work in the refit and repair areas alongside its extensive new-build operations. Legacy Yachts is another based in Dubai which offers services on yachts up to 100m.
There are plans for Drydocks World and its links with P&O Marinas and P&O Maritime Services to establish a superyacht refit facility in Dubai. Some work on superyachts is already performed and with marina capacity for larger superyachts in the emirate increasing, so the need for a facility able to handle larger superyachts will be needed.
In Qatar, NDSQ (Nakilat Damen Shipyards Qatar) based at Ras Laffan has actively been carrying out refit work since it was set up in 2010. It has completed several refit and repair projects and has a capacity for vessels up to 170m.
A new superyacht repair and refit facility was established last year in Bahrain through a partnership between the locally-based Suprema Marine Services and Lusben, the yacht refit arm of the Azimut-Benetti Group. Suprema Marine Services, which was previously based in Dubai, has set up a new facility at Durrat Marina in Bahrain. This facility will be able to handle yachts up to around 50m (164ft). Staffed by seasoned professionals, the facility includes 5,000m2 of hard stand, a 110-tonne travel lift, and 100 berths.
Lusben is the internationally-recognised yacht refit and repair business of the Azimut Benetti Group. It was established in 1956 in Viareggio and can handle yachts from 20m-140m (66ft-460ft).
In Canada there are a clutch of superyacht repair and refit companies in British Columbia, reflecting the extensive yachting sector in and around Vancouver. Among the companies operating in Vancouver or Richmond, BC, are the Bracewell Marine Group, Delta Marine Services Seaspan Vancouver Shipyards and West Bay Sonship Yacht Builders Ltd. These and other companies in this area have the capacity to work on superyachts from 30m-60m.
With its vast yachting industry, the USA has no shortage of shipyards able to handle refit and repair work on superyachts. Ft Lauderdale is a key centre with such facilities as the Lauderdale Marine Centre. In West Palm Beach, Rybovich is another leading player able to work with superyachts up to 100m and provide a full range of services.
Likewise with Thunderbolt Marine in Savannah, Saunders Yacht Works in Alabama, the Ocean Marine Yacht Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, the Marine Group Boat Works in San Diego, the Newport shipyard in Newport, RI, the Front Street Shipyard in Belfast, ME and Derecktor Shipyards in Dania Beach, to name a few.
Other well-known names active in this market are Burger Boat Company, Delta Marine Industries, Dania Cut Superyacht Repair, Bay Ship & Yacht Co, Bradford Marine and Hinckley Yacht Services.
The latter is developing a new superyacht refit facility at Fort Pierce in Florida designed as the first in the US to be able to lift superyachts of 60m or more. This new facility is based on a 30-year concession and will see an investment of some US$33m, which will include the world’s largest travel lift of 1,500 tonnes.
The new yard will have a depth of 8m and direct access to the Atlantic Ocean. An eight-acre apron will provide 1,000ft of deep-water berthing. The yard is anticipated to be operational by the autumn of 2020 and include a drydock able to accommodate superyachts of 4,000 tonnes.
The one US member of the ICOMIA Superyacht Refit Group is BAE Systems in Jacksonville. Superyachts are part of the work mix at this large yard, along with commercial and naval vessels. The yard’s facilities include a depth of 12.5m, a 13,500-tonne capacity floating dock, marine railways of 4,000 and 1,000 tonnes, and some 500m of berthing.
Among the key centres are Antigua, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and Guadeloupe.
Antigua Slipway Ltd in St Johns, a Caribbean sailing hub, has the ability to repair and refit superyachts up to 45m. In Freeport, on Grand Bahama Island, Bradford Marine Bahamas is a well-known company servicing the superyacht market and able to handle superyachts up to 90m or so.
On the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, IMM (International Marine Management) has over recent years established facilities in Guadeloupe and St Maarten. The former offers a 55m-long dry dock with alongside working on superyachts up to 200m or more. With its newer base at Isle del Sole base in St Maarten, IMM is among the most active superyacht refit service providers in the Caribbean.
Across the Caribbean region meeting the needs of cruising and charter superyachts, there are a series of shipyards offering a range of services to cope with repairs and maintenance. These include Curacao Marine in Willemstad, the IBC Shipyard in the Dominican Republic, Grenada Marine and Spice Island Marine Services in Grenada, Subbase Dockyard in St Thomas in the USVI, and Peake Yacht Services in Trinidad.
A major facility is operating in San Juan in Puerto Rico – namely, the Port Caribe Shipyard & Marina. This company runs two refurbished facilities and brings together a marina area in Old San Juan Harbor and the former Isla Grande US Navy shipyard.
The marina area of Port Caribe, located between Piers 6 and 9, offers over 1,600m (5,000ft)-plus of deep-water quays for both alongside and Med style stern-to berthing. The stern-to berthing will go up to 110m (361ft) with alongside going as large as required. The nearby Isla Grande shipyard includes a 200m (660ft) dry dock, 457m (1,500ft) of quay, and a 40-acre hard-stand area for working on yachts ashore. The private investment in Port Caribe amounts to over US$70m.
In Cuba, the French Nautech Group operates a facility in Havana, Cuba which can accommodate superyachts up to 150m. It also has a base in Martinique.
With the growth of explorer and expedition yachts, the southern extremity of South America is an increasingly popular cruising area. There are shipyards but few with experience of working on superyachts.
In Chile, one exception is Alvoplast SA, a yard in Valdivia that is able to handle superyachts up to 40m. In Brazil, superyacht-builder MCP Yachts also has some capacity for performing repair and refit work on superyachts. MCP Yachts occupies an area of around 10,000m² between the cities of Santos and Guarujá and which represents some of the most modern shipbuilding infrastructure in Brazil.
The company headquarters consist of a design bureau, administration offices and multi-purpose sheds for aluminium processing, carpentry work and the building and finishing of vessels. The yard’s on-water facilities include a 150-tonne travel lift. This new site was designed to increase the company’s construction capability and simultaneously provide maintenance services for the luxury yacht market.
A superyacht destination in its own right, and a port of call for superyachts on various routings, Cape Town is, without any doubt, a strategic location. In superyacht new-build terms, it is also the base of the famous Southern Wind sailing yacht brand.
A recent indicator of the potential that Cape Town could hold as a superyacht repair and refit centre was shown when two superyachts, one a new Southern Wind 105ft vessel and the 43.3m Royal Huisman aluminium sloop Sea Eagle, were both in the Robinson dry dock. This fuelled talk of the potential for Cape Town to be a superyacht repair, refit and maintenance centre.
The Asia-Pacific region, promoted over the past decade or more as the world’s third superyacht cruising area, is slowly moving down that road. Some 50 to 75 superyachts a year are now visiting this huge region and with the Olympics in Japan next year and the America’s Cup in New Zealand in 2021, a significant increase in the number of superyachts could result.
There are fears over adequate support for visiting superyachts, but across the whole region from Tahiti and Fiji in the east to Mauritius, the Maldives and the Seychelles, there is a network of repair and refit facilities that can meet a substantial part of the demand there would be.
As the marine hub of South East Asia, Singapore is well served by several shipyards which in the main deal with commercial work but with the downturn in the oil industry some have started including yacht work to supplement their workload. Among the regular yards doing superyacht work are Penguin Shipyard International Pte Ltd which can work on vessels up to 60m, and SML Shipyard which can handle superyachts up to 125m.
The main superyacht refit yard in the Philippines is HYS Yachts located in Subic Bay which is a yard known for its conversion projects of usually commercial vessels into superyachts. Last year the company invested in a new floating dock with a lifting capacity up to 500 tonnes or vessels of 45m in length.
With Thailand having ambitions to attract more superyachts both for cruising and charter, if a new foreign-flag charter licence is introduced, then its shipyards will face the prospect of handling more superyacht work. Currently the Boat Lagoon Marina shipyard in Phuket is one that can provide a range of services but new capacity is being developed.
The Phuket Superyacht Shipyard is due to open soon and it will provide a facility with an 820-tonne travel lift and 40,0000m2 of hardstand. It will be able to accommodate superyachts up to 65m. A second new facility is due to open in Krabi with a 700-tonne travel lift, which is a project of one of Thailand’s commercial shipyards.
India is in the very early stages of developing its yachting industry but for any superyachts choosing to visit the country a facility in Mumbai operated by the West Coast Marine Yacht Services Pvt Ltd can provide repair and refit services. The yard is able to handle superyachts up to 70m.
With an expectation of more superyachts visiting the Asia-Pacific region and plans for a foreign-flag charter licence hoped to be implemented later this year, Australia’s superyacht refit companies are in expansionist mood.
In Cairns, where two out of the three main shipyards actively work on superyachts, BSE Cairns Marine Slipways has recently introduced the largest travel lift in the world with an 1,120-tonne capacity. This new piece of equipment replaced the company’s former 60m drydock. This lift was funded by a A$8m grant awarded to the yard as part of a pre-election pledge.
The other yard, Norship Marine, which also received A$8m, is still to spend its money but there are major plans to develop the marine industry capacity in Cairns following a review of the sector and its future. What the review recommended was the instalment of a 3,000-tonne capacity synchrolift which would allow the port to handle much larger vessels including superyachts up to 80m or more. As part of this, a major dredging programme is underway to provide greater depth to allow for larger craft.
Further south in Brisbane, the two major shipyards – The Yard and Rivergate Marina & Shipyard – are also contemplating expanding their facilities. The Yard, which is already handling a lot of superyacht work and is well-equipped with a good range of sheds up to 90m, is looking to invest in a 1,280-tonne travel lift over the next year or so.
Rivergate, which can already handle superyachts up to 90m, has applied for planning permission for a 2,600-tonne synchrolift which would strengthen its position in the marketplace. If planning for the synchrolift is not approved, it may choose another option which could be a large travel-lift.
On the Gold Coast, both the Gold Coast City Marina & Shipyard (GCCM) and the Boat Works are spending around A$100m on expanding their facilities at Coomera. At GCCM, a major expansion of the shipyard is planned with a 1,000-tonne capacity travel lift being considered to expand the size of superyachts it will be able to handle.
Adjacent to this, the Boat Works is also doubling its size with its new 52-acre North Precinct. This will include a new 300-tonne travel lift and marina berths allowing it to handle superyachts up to nearly 60m. Work on this project is already well advanced and the first phase is due to be opened in October. A new set of sheds, with the largest being 41m long, and a large hardstand area are also part of the project.
As part of making the Boat Works into a superyacht destination there will also be special crew, accommodation and sporting facilities developed. The full project, which is moving forward at a rapid pace, is due to be completed in 2020.
As part of the expansion plans at both GCCM and the Boat Works, the Gold Coast Waterways Authority is undertaking a major dredging programme to maintain a suitable depth for superyachts up to 75m or more.
In the Northern Territory, the port of Darwin is also assessing its future in respect of superyacht infrastructure. Refit and repair wise, this was improved a year ago when Tasmanian Seafoods opened a new facility which can handle superyachts up to about 40m with a 150-tonne capacity travel lift. Darwin is a key port of entry for superyachts cruising the Kimberley area of northern Australia.
In New South Wales, the main superyacht refit facility is Sydney City Marine, which can handle superyachts up to about 60m. A new facility is due to come onstream at Newcastle which will be operated by Thales and potentially include superyacht refits among its workload.
In Western Australia, the marine centre at Henderson, south of Perth, is home to Echo Yachts which recently completed the largest superyacht completed in the country – the 84m trimaran White Rabbit. Echo Yachts and its sister company, Evolution Commercial, perform refits on superyachts and commercial craft.
Yachting Developments Ltd is New Zealand’s main superyacht builder and a leading refit company. Based in Hobsonville, near Auckland, it is almost the sole survivor of the country’s once sizeable superyacht new-build industry. The company can handle superyachts up to around 60m for refit projects.
In Auckland, other leading companies engaged in the superyacht market and refit work include Orams Marine Services Ltd and Titan Marine Engineering Ltd, able to cope with superyachts up to 95m and 86m respectively.
In Tauranga, a new marine precinct known as Vessel Works has opened as a marine servicing hub for superyachts, commercial and recreational vessels. Vessel Works brings an array of marine companies together on a 6,300m2 heavy-duty hardstand. Hikinui, the Vessel Works’ mobile vessel-hoist, can lift vessels of up to 350 tonnes and 50m long, and move them around the site.
Whangarei is also a major centre for yacht work and a number of companies based there contribute to this task. They include Oceania Marine Ltd, Ship Repair NZ Ltd, Port Whangarei Marine Centre and Q-West Boat Builders. Between these companies, superyachts from 30m-120m can be handled.
In terms of the Pacific Islands, Port Denarau Marina in Fiji has a boat yard which can provide a wide range of services to superyachts, and in Tahiti, Papeete-based Technimarine has the capacity to work on superyachts up to 40m. Its facility includes a 300-tonne travel lift.
A major new development representing a NZ$100m investment will provide Auckland with a new refit facility located at Site 18 in the city’s Wynyard Quarter. The facility was subject to a Development Agreement between the city’s redevelopment agency Panuku Development Auckland and leading marine services company Orams.
It is hoped the project’s marine work will be completed by the end of 2020. Area 18 will feature a marine haul-out and refit facility and target vessels up to 800 tonnes, which accounts for 85% of the world marine market. The facility should be ready in time for the 36th America’s Cup in 2021.
The range of new investment going into the refit sector across the world highlights the major growth that is underway and will continue into the future. With around a 150 new-builds over 30m joining the global superyacht fleet annually, the need for this new investment is readily underpinned with the expectation that more will follow.