The port authority of La Rochelle, France has selected superyacht refit firm Atlantic Refit Center and the industrial engineering company Eiffel Industrie as joint winners of the 'Your Atlantic Yachting Shipyard' competition, launched last October. The award ensures that Atlantic Refit Center will manage the development of superyacht refit within the shipbuilding and repair centre at the port of La Rochelle.

Atlantic Refit Center (ARC) and Eiffel Industrie have worked together on superyacht refit projects in the past, with ARC project managing and subcontracting major steel and mechanical engineering works to Eiffel’s marine division, which mainly focuses on cruise ships at Chantiers de l'Atlantique in Saint Nazaire.

ARC focuses on significant refit works for superyachts over 70m, including works on 72m Skat and the award-winning conversion of the 72m former Scottish fisheries vessel into Enigma XK.

Aerial view of the port of La Rochelle, France with its enormous wet basin.

“Eiffel is in this partnership as industrial support for Atlantic Refit Center, which is leading the yacht maintenance and refit programme in La Rochelle,” explained Stéphane Marcelli, general manager of ARC. “The port is renting the facility to us, and we are working with them on infrastructure development while we work on our next set of refit contracts for the coming winter season.”

Top of the list of requests from the port is a cover for the 180 x 22m dry dock no. 1. For past works, vessels in the dock have had individual wraps, but Marcelli is working hard to persuade the port to invest in a permanent cover for the dock. A covered dock would bring ARC’s facilities in line with what’s on offer at Pendennis in Cornwall or the competing refit programmes in the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Italy and the South of France.

The port is also considering the future use of the large wet basin within the port, which Marcelli says he sees a future for. “Larger commercial ships will not be able to enter this dock, so we have proposed a conversion of the basin into a yacht marina,” Marcelli says. “That’s definitely a long-term project, along with the possible development of the adjacent land for a hard-standing refit area for vessels between 25m and 45m.”

Detail of the area up for development, showing the wet basin and two dry docks

Marcelli is keen to stress that an important part of the project is ARC’s development of an apprenticeship scheme with the French government that will focus on skills transfer to a younger generation while providing affordable labour for the yard.

The development project will be structured in stages, the first being a five-year plan, which will include work on dry dock no.1, the adjacent boatyard, the repair space at Quai Camaret and on-site offices.

The shipbuilding and repair centre will continue to host traditional ships in dry dock no.2 and the adjacent boatyard. The works will boost and generate huge business for the local companies already operating in the shipbuilding and repair centre, Marcelli says.      

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