24 Aug 2012
Commercial refit methods offer valuable lessons for superyacht industry
Bay Ship & Yacht Co. is close to completing an 11m mid-body extension on M/Y SuRi, the San Francisco Bay shipyard confirmed. The ex-crabbing vessel, which served as her owner’s shadow vessel to a 50m Hakvoort for a number of years, was 51.8m before she arrived at the facilities in January. At the time of her extension, said naval architect Boris Kirilloff, she was the largest yacht refit job in the US.
The owner of SuRi commented that one of the most attractive reasons for taking the project to the yard was its ability to partially complete the plug for the extension in an on-site warehouse prior to her arrival at the end of January this year, reducing the duration of her down time.
“Because we are a yard with a lot of commercial vessel experience, we are used to a quick turnaround with our clients. Commercial vessels need to have work completed as fast as possible and get moving on again, in order to keep making money,” said Eric Haberli, director of superyacht business development at Bay Ship & Yacht Co, who has worked in yacht construction and refit for over four decades. “I think the commercial approach to how refit is done has to spill over into the yachting industry. Nobody can afford the process to be less efficient – neither the yard nor the client.”
In two months the company is adding a 3,000T floating dry dock to its 1,200T synchrolift and 2,800T dry dock facilities, and last year it purchased a 90T crane, as well as a plasma steel cutter.
Haberli said that although there was a period over the last few years where more superyachts were taking a ‘deferred maintenance’ approach to refit work when the economy was less stable, this has generally come to an end: “There is a lot of paint work going on now whereas before some owners were not willing to spend money on anything other than antifouling. I think that [refit work] has picked up and is almost back to what it was before.”
Charlie Dana of Newport Shipyard in Rhode Island, known for its work on sailing superyachts, commented recently that although in 2010 the refit yard saw a decline in activity after two increasingly active years, 2011 was its busiest year to date and 2012 was looking equally positive.
Over recent years the US capabilities and facilities on offer to superyachts for refit and maintenance have been increasing, particularly in Florida. Rybovich has injected considerable funds into its facilities and seen an increase in activity as a result, and Derecktor Florida is currently in the process of installing a 900T travelift in Dania to increase its capacity.
As the new build work has slowed, more new construction yards are offering refit work to clients. Trinity, for example, offers refit alongside its new build yacht, commercial and military work. The shipyard has said that by bringing in refit, it is able to maintain its workforce levels in periods with less new construction activity. Delta Marine has also increased its refit activity in recent years, and as mentioned before, Derecktor Shipyards has experienced ever increasing refit activity in Florida while its Connecticut new build facility remains closed under its Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, first filed in 2011.
As Haberli concludes, for traditionally new build yards, refit may not just be an option for when construction work is slow to come in. It represents a profitable business model. Even though more vessels may be coming to the US for their service work, the refit marketplace is becoming increasingly crowded as more companies set their sights on these potential customers. The key is to be able to stand out in a crowded marketplace with specialist skills and facilities, such as those that attracted the owner of SuRi to Bay Ship & Yacht Co.
Bay Ship & Yacht Co. Profile | Bay Ship & Yacht Co. Website
Newport Shipyard Profile | Newport Shipyard Website
Rybovich Profile | Rybovich Website
Derecktor Profile | Derecktor Website
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