$350 Million Expansion Planned for Grand Bahama Shipyard

investment to expand Grand Bahama Shipyard
The cruise lines are planning to expand Grand Bahama's capabilities (Grand Bahama Shipyard)

Published Jul 15, 2021 6:01 PM by The Maritime Executive

Efforts are underway to expand the capabilities of the Grand Bahama Shipyard located at Freeport in the Bahamas. According to the government of the Bahamas, the new investment will be one of the biggest investments in the island’s history. When completed, the yard will be capable of handling and servicing the largest ships in the world.

Developed in response to the cruise industry’s desire for a shipyard facility close to its base of operations in Florida and the Caribbean, Grand Bahama Shipyard started in 2000 with one drydock capable of handling ships up to 27,000 tons displacement. The yard added a second drydock in 2001 capable of handling ships up to 50,000 tons displacement and by 2009 a third drydock was added, giving the yard a lifting capacity of up to approximately 82,500 tons displacement. Ownership of the yard includes 40 percent stakes each from Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Group, with the remaining portion held by the Grand Bahama Port Authority.

“I am pleased to announce that Carnival and Royal Caribbean have agreed to a new, combined investment of approximately $350 million in the Grand Bahama Shipyard,” Bahamas Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis recently told the House of Assembly. “To understand the scale of this investment, the House may recall that the original investment and other investments to date in the shipyard have totaled approximately $250 million.”

Carnival Corporation confirmed the plans for the investment, which will be used to expand the yard’s capabilities. The largest portion of the investment will go into the addition of two large drydocks capable of handling the newer generations of cruise ships. Currently, the largest cruise ships have to head to Europe for their maintenance and overhauls.

Grand Bahama’s largest drydock was damaged in an April 2019 accident. They were doing a partial lift of one of the world’s largest cruise ships, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, when the dock cracked and one of the cranes toppled over hitting the cruise ship. The yard also suffered damage during Hurricane Dorian in September 2019 but has continued to operate while plans for the future were developed.

Giora Israel, Carnival Corporation’s senior vice-president for port and destination development, told the Bahamas’ Tribune Business news outlet that the plan is to build two new drydocks including one that will be the largest floating drydocks in the Americas. They explored building the docks in Europe but determined that they will be built in Asia.

Dr. Minnis speaking about the plans said the expansion of Grand Bahama Shipyard is set to begin as early as this October. The new drydocks are expected at the yard in the second half of 2022.

“Grand Bahama is on the move and Grand Bahama is coming back,” the Tribune Business quoted Dr. Minnis as telling the House of Assembly.  “The government and the owners of the shipyard will work on a new partnership agreement that benefits the people of Grand Bahama.”

Expanding the facilities of Grand Bahama Shipyard provides the cruise lines with a nearby facility to meet the needs of its ships. The yard was also working to expand its range of services, including supporting more work for the hotel side of the cruise ships hosting the large revitalization projects some cruise lines have been undertaking to modernize older ships.