For all shiprepair yards in the Mediterranean, 2021 proved to be a challenging year due to the significant impact on the shipping market and disruption of shipyard operations caused by the pandemic. Italy’s Fincantieri Group was naturally impacted by such factors, but the company reflects on a generally positive outcome for its repair activities.
According to Fincantieri’s vice president, shiprepair and conversion, Andrew Toso: “Considering the issues and difficulties that were faced, especially during the first half of 2021, including supply chain disruptions, reduced sub-contractor availability and restrictive working practices, our shiprepair yards managed to sail through the year relatively well and maintained a consistent level of activities.”
A series of conversions for Windstar Cruises provided a significant element of work for the Fincantieri Palermo yard for much of the year. The re-delivery of the Star Pride to the owners in October brought to a successful conclusion the three-ship deal involving the 26m lengthening of each ship, the replacement of the main engines and the renewal of electrical generators and automation systems. Additionally, extensive refurbishment of interiors and public areas, passenger cabins and open decks was undertaken during the drydockings. Star Pride remains at Palermo until it resumes guest operations later this year with a series of cruises in the Mediterranean.
During the final quarter of 2021, with the cruise industry gradually returning to business and restarting normal itineraries, the Fincantieri repair yards were kept busy with works on a number of cruise ships resuming service. Carnival Horizon arrived at Palermo Shipyard and went directly into its No. 4 drydock in late December, whereafter standard underwater works were carried out, including hull painting, and urgent maintenance was undertaken on the main propulsion pods. The ship’s livery was upgraded to the new red, white and blue design inspired by the iconic Carnival funnel colours scheme. The works were completed on schedule and the Horizon undocked and sailed away on 8 January 2022.
These vessels were followed by the P&O Australia cruise ship Pacific Explorer, which was in dock for three weeks during February and left the shipyard during the first week of March. Regular underwater maintenance works were carried out on this vessel, including the thrusters and stabilisers, while the underwater hull and topside was hydro blasted and coated. More recently Costa Venezia arrived at Palermo in March for a 10-day standard docking in dock No.4
The Fincantieri shipyard at Trieste was also engaged with cruise ship activity, including the visit of Costa Fascinosa during the second half of October, and then Costa Luminosa between November and December. Luminosa was hydro blasted and repainted, while major maintenance works were also completed during its stay at the yard.
Toso says: “With the return of the cruise industry to ‘normality’ seemingly on track, we are looking forward to a busy 2022 at our repair and conversion yards, not only for standard drydocking and repairs, but also for larger cruise ship upgrade and conversion projects which seem to be in the pipeline.”
The ferry market, a traditional Fincantieri staple, is also bouncing back after a slow period. During January this year January two GNV ro-ro passenger vessels, SNAV Adriatico and GNV Antares, were drydocked at the same time in Palermo’s Dock No. 4 for routine underwater works and hull coating.
Fincantieri is also generally optimistic about a steady recovery of demand in the tanker and offshore repair sector as well. As Toso reflects: “Current global events are having an effect on shipping in general and the oil and gas industry in particular, and we may yet see some recovery and investment in this sector. The current trends may bring increased opportunities and significant projects for shiprepair yards, especially those involved with oil and gas vessels, during the rest of 2022.”