Namdock 3 Arrives in Walvis Bay Port
Ship Repair Company Elgin Brown and Hamer (EBH) Namibia has announced the much-anticipated arrival of its third Panamax floating dock in the port of Walvis Bay on Friday, an event which has important strategic implications not only for the company, but for the Namibian economy as a whole.
Since its inception in 2006, EBH Namibia has built up a solid reputation for its capacity to offer a holistic service in all aspects of ship repair and the maintenance and repair of offshore supply vessels. With its two floating docks (Namdock 1 and Namdock 2), a consistent track record and strategic geographic location, the company has gained the competitive edge in the shipping industry on the African west coast.
The arrival of the third dock will now substantially increase the company’s docking capacity and its ability to compete on an international scale.
“The increase in capacity will allow us more flexibility to provide a world class service to our customers. The size of the dock alone will allow us to expand our markets and attract work that might have had to go elsewhere,” says Hannes Uys, Chief Executive Officer of EBH Namibia, explaining that in late 2011 the company had identified a need to increase its docking capacity.
“We explored various options, and finally sourced the ideal size dock in Newcastle, Australia, and the purchase was concluded in November 2012.”
The new Panamax floating dock, 195 meters in length, will enable EBH Namibia to service vessels up to 190 meters in length and 33 meters in beam, increasing the company’s dry docking capacity by 15 000 tons. The dock, as the existing two floating docks, is fully financed through the operations of EBH Namibia.
“The new dock will increase our ability to service the local and international shipping industry by 60%. This is in support of Namport’s (the Namibian government’s Ports Authority) plans of increasing container trade in the region,” Uys notes.
Namport is EBH Namibia’s main shareholder, with the balance of shares having been acquired in 2012 by the DCD Group (making EBH Namibia part of the DCD Marine cluster of companies).
“The significance of the arrival of the third dock cannot be overestimated in terms of job creation and skills development in Namibia, as well as economic growth in the region” Uys says. “Since its inception in 2006, EBH Namibia has contributed an estimated N$1.3 billion to the Namibian economy.”
The commissioning of a floating dock the size of the Panamax does not come without its logistical challenges, however.
Willie Esterhuyse, Commercial Manager at EBH Namibia, explains: “Having been out of operation for almost three years, the dock required preparation work to ensure safe delivery to Namibia. This included the replacement of approximately 200 tons of steel which were carried out in Batam, Indonesia. The newly refurbished dock left Batam on 18 April 2013, but bad weather meant that the arrival has been delayed by almost 30 days.”
The commissioning of the dock in port, scheduled for September 2013, entails four dimensions, according to Esterhuyse. All work will be carefully planned to ensure a minimum impact on current operations.
“The first dimension is the preparation of the site, which includes the placement of the mooring blocks, dredging, moving Namdock 1 to her new position and placing Namdock 3 in her new position. This process is well underway and simultaneously the remobilisation of all equipment, such as cranes, pumps, valves and the offloading of the floating crane has to be carried out in the main port. The third and fourth is the continuation of the repairs carried out in Batam and the training of our dock operational staff.”
A project of this magnitude requires enormous skills input, as Uys points out. “One of our greatest challenges is a shortage of skills. While employees will be incorporated into the project as and when required, we will be embarking on an active recruitment drive, as well as implementing skills exchange programmes with international shipyards, and mentorship training.”
He estimates that the project will create around 150 job opportunities, the majority of which will be offered to local residents.
“This is a very exciting phase in EBH Namibia’s history. We believe that the arrival of the third dry dock will greatly increase our capacity to offer a complete service and enhance the port of Walvis Bay – and Namibia - as a global player in the ship repair industry,” he concludes.