With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to impact new build and refit operations around the world, SuperyachtNews is speaking to shipyards to establish the current status of each facility. At the end of March, UK-based Pendennis opted to reduce all but essential activities at the shipyard. During that period, the vast majority of Pendennis’ employees were asked to remain at home with their families until it was deemed safe for them to return to work.

“We used the closure period to ensure ‘best practice’ with all possible measures being put in place to minimise the risk to our staff, yacht crew and contractors on site, and to ensure compliance with social distancing and any lawful directive by the UK government,” explains Toby Allies, joint managing director at Pendennis. “Having consulted with the national trade body for the marine sector, our local member of Parliament, and national government policy, it was very clear that Pendennis, along with multiple other manufacturing businesses in the UK irrespective of sector, were being encouraged to return to work.”

“It’s our in-house permanent team that enable us to keep working – we always attribute much of our success to our people but, in times like these, it becomes even more apparent just how important they are...”

A phased return to work at Pendennis has been actioned over the past few weeks, and the yard is now operating with just over two thirds of its total workforce onsite at any one time, with office staff working from home where possible. “It’s our in-house permanent team that enable us to keep working – we always attribute much of our success to our people but, in times like these, it becomes even more apparent just how important they are,” adds Allies.

In order to ensure the health and safety of those accessing and working at the facility, extra measures have been implemented, including return inductions, daily temperature checks, one-way systems, two-metre distancing markings, extra hand-washing stations and an enhanced cleaning schedule, amongst other initiatives. The management team is listening to its employees to make sure they feel safe, reviewing the situation daily and all appropriate action will be taken to follow any further changes to government policy.

With regards to the impact on projects, Allies explains that the situation has provided Pendennis with the opportunity to review its working practices and make changes to operations that will benefit both the company and its employees. “We’re currently trialing new shift working patterns to enable us to ensure safe social distancing while gradually increasing production levels,” he says.

“There will of course be some impact on our projects but, by working very closely with the owners’ teams, our project managers are looking to minimise any delays or disruption to the ongoing work. That’s another benefit of having a large permanent on-site team – we’re very flexible and adaptable to the changing situation and, although we do use subcontractors to supplement our team, we are not reliant on an external workforce.”

“We have also found that our refit enquiry level has increased in the past three months, with many new and returning yachts choosing Falmouth and Pendennis as a safe haven and a reliable, proven refit shipyard for their upcoming works...”

The pandemic has also caused a change in how superyachts are being used, which has raised questions about how the new build and refit markets will be affected this year. “We are fortunate that we were already working on a few long-term projects when the restrictions were put in place, which means that we have work to be getting on with now that we are able to continue safely,” explains Allies. “We have also found that our refit enquiry level has increased in the past three months, with many new and returning yachts choosing Falmouth and Pendennis as a safe haven and a reliable, proven refit shipyard for their upcoming works.”

Pendennis is now starting to take serious enquiries for the upcoming winter period and beyond. “We would advise anyone considering a refit with us to get in touch as soon as possible to discuss their requirements – especially those looking to take advantage of our 75m dry dock or non-tidal wet basin for the 2020/21 winter period,” Allies concludes. “With yachts still needing to undertake routine maintenance, and many using this opportunity to embark on extended works, we’re confident that highly-regarded shipyards offering low-risk options, such as Pendennis, will be the destination of choice for the season ahead.”

Image credit: Pendennis

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