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The experts who comprise the ideal in-yard team

Piers Flood offers an honest appraisal of the perfect composition of specialists appointed to oversee refit work.…

Piers Flood, fleet technical manager at Döhle Yachts, offers an honest appraisal of the perfect composition of specialists appointed to oversee refit work.

As most industry observers have noticed, the world superyacht fleet is continuing to grow, not only in terms of numbers but also in size and complexity. And as the fleet grows, so does the requirement for service, maintenance and refit. This comes with a corresponding increase in cost and the risk that the refit will not meet the owner’s expectations.

A few years ago, many refits could comfortably be managed by a competent and experienced captain, and this can still be the case for smaller yachts. However, there’s a strong argument that for larger yachts, professionals with a primary skill set in refit should be appointed to ensure quality is maintained, cost creep and late delivery are minimised and the owner receives redelivery of a fully compliant yacht.

Piers Flood, Döhle Yachts

So what should be the roles and skill set of the client’s team?

To address this, we’ve created a yacht for exactly this scenario with typical refit requirements for a vessel approaching her second (10-year) class special survey, with the owner wishing to refit the luxury interior, overhaul major machinery and tenders, and refinish the exterior paint, all with a budget of €12 million.

For this fairly typical project, the ideal client’s team would consist of:

Project manager/owner’s representative
This person is responsible for the overall control of the project, either permanently in the shipyard or with regular attendance, and would liaise with the shipyard management, major third-party contractors and other stakeholders.

They’d have the owner’s trust and be provided with a suitable Power of Attorney to take decisions to ensure the project runs on schedule and meets the owner’s expectations.

They’d have extensive experience of shipyards, refit projects and a good level of knowledge of all the major work being undertaken, as well as a clear understanding of the requirements for the certification (class and flag) of the yacht. Most importantly, this person would identify the risks in the refit, develop mitigation measures and manage the cost, quality and schedule.

The project manager should be involved well before the yacht arrives in the yard (arguably before the refit shipyard is selected). This ensures the worklist, schedule, quality standards and contracts can be developed in good time and that all significant risks are identified and risk-mitigation measures developed.

Owner’s yacht managers (or the owner)
This person is the project manager’s communication route to the owner or who the project manager reports to. They’d be informed of the works planned, budget and likely schedule before committing to the refit, and ensure authorisation is obtained from the owner.

Once works are in progress they’d be regularly updated on developments, risks or major project developments and obtain the owner’s approval for any change orders.

Paint specialist
This is normally a third-party consultant reporting to the project manager. They’d be competent, certified and accepted as a suitable expert by the paint contractor.

They’d possibly be involved in creating the paint specification for the refinishing, including quality standards and inspection frequency, and would regularly attend to inspect paint, raise issues with paint contractors and develop solutions to issues, as well as advising the project manager.

Legal representative
This person might be from the client’s family office or legal firm but often is a specialist marine legal consultant who liaises with the project manager. They’d review the shipyard contract (with the project manager’s assistance for technical sections) to ensure it’s balanced and legally protects the owner’s interests.

Insurers
This is often an overlooked stakeholder in a refit, but is vital to ensure planned refit works are approved, including the shipyard’s and major sub-contractors’ contracts. They’d ensure that the liability and risk are acceptable and suitable insurance is in place should a serious issue occur. They’d also review various risks (for example, hot works procedures, fire or security watch requirements) and review and approve/reject any waivers requested by the shipyard.

Interior designer
They’d liaise with the owner/owner’s managers and project manager and be able to turn the owner’s design concepts into reality. They’d have a clear understanding of the requirements for the design as well of the schedule and budget, and also have sufficient knowledge and familiarity with contractors to manage and control design-specific works, ensuring delivery and installation of the luxury design.

Financial representative
This person is usually in the owner’s office and part of the owner’s management team, and is responsible for paying the shipyard and major sub-contractors, making payments with the owner’s authorisation.

As most shipyards operate a ‘no departure until final invoice is paid’ policy, timely payment of invoices is vital to ensure the schedule is kept to.

They should be given regular updates from the project manager of the financial position, including any increases in cost due to variation orders and dates when significant payment requests or invoices are expected to be issued.

Compliance specialist
It’s usually most efficient to undertake class or flag surveys and recertification during the refit period to avoid a separate period of yacht downtime. For this reason, major refits are often planned at special five-year class survey periods.

This person would report to the project manager and liaise with the captain, project manager, shipyard, class and flag to ensure the requirements for survey and certification are met.

Approval, inspection or certification may be required for major changes, both by class or flag surveyors and a remote class or flag office, assisted by the compliance specialist. By redelivery, the compliance specialist should have ensured that all surveys, audits, inspections, approvals and certificates are in place.

Technical specialist
This person is for works requiring specialist knowledge, reporting to the project manager and likely retained for only short periods. They could be tender/toy/submarine/helicopter consultants with the expertise and industry contacts to ensure works are specified correctly and the cost and schedule are realistic.

This article first appeared in The Superyacht Refit Report. To gain access to The Superyacht Group’s full suite of content, publications, events and services, click here to join The Superyacht Group Community https://www.superyachtnews.com/shop/ and become one of our members.

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