Portugal's Navalrocha Shipyard Shows Strongest Performance Since 2017

Navalrocha Shipyard

Published Oct 5, 2022 10:17 AM by The Maritime Executive

Portugal's Navalrocha Shipyard is reporting a strong performance in 2022 following a flurry of high-profile naval contracts, a resurgence in cruise sector work plus expansion across new markets. 

Supported by a dedicated supply chain, the Lisbon shipyard continues to adapt and evolve following the pandemic, ultimately recording one of its busiest periods since 2017. Due to high levels of demand, it has accommodated pier side repair projects, adjacent to the city centre drydocks to manage periods of peak capacity, while dispatching specialist engineering teams to support neighbouring shipyards, further increasing work volumes.

Standout projects have involved naval frigates, general cargo vessels, tugs, passenger ferries, Antarctic expedition cruisers, bunker tankers and oil/chemical carriers, alongside continued growth in the BWTS and seismic survey markets.

Early in 2022, Navalrocha sought to reinforce its strong track-record in the military sector delivering further work for the Portuguese Navy, deploying a team of specialist engineers to neighbouring state-run Arsenal do Alfeite Shipyard to deliver piping work aboard the NRP Sagres. Similar ‘engineering support’ projects have served the Argos-class patrol boat NRP Dragão, responsible for coastal defence, border protection, immigration law-enforcement, search and rescue duties, and the NRP Bartholomeu Dias multi-purpose frigate.

The projects mark a string of naval contracts over the last 12 months, including the NRP Andrómeda hydrographic survey vessel followed by the NRP Don Carlos I and NRP Almirante Gago Coutinho - both former US Stalwart-class ocean surveillance ships, which were later adapted in Portugal for hydrography and oceanography surveys. Most recently, the yard welcomed the NRP Corte Real Vasco da Gama-class frigate to Dock 1, for propeller shaft, blade repairs and painting.

By February, new client Seaventy docked the Evora sight-seeing cruise vessel for a short-stay reclass project involving painting and mechanical upgrades, lasting two weeks. This was shortly followed by a major refit involving Seadream I, a yacht-style cruise ship operated by SeaDream Yacht Club. The 35-day project mirrored work to sister vessel Seadream II which Navalrocha delivered in Summer 2021, involving considerable mechanical, piping, steel, blasting and painting, along with wide-scale interior refurbishment.

Continuing momentum, the yard welcomed MM Marine’s Symi and Kithnos ocean-going product tankers for BWTS installation work, combined with general repairs including blasting, painting, piping and mechanical work. It marked the latest in a series of BWTS projects for MM Marine which operates one of the world’s largest and most modern fleets of high specification bunkering tankers, including inland waterway barges to ocean-going offshore bunkering tankers.

Moving through the year, the Italian-flagged Bice Amoretti oil/chemical tanker, owned by the Amoretti Armatori Group, visited for a 16-day reclassification, involving mechanical and propulsion work, a main engine overhaul and BWTS installation. Later, Reboport returned with the Castelo de Sines tug vessel for widescale repair work including extensive blasting. This followed Reboport’s previous bookings, including the oceanic tugboat Castelo de Sao Jorge, recognised as the ‘most powerful’ vessel in the national tugboat fleet, and the Poseidon tug vessel. Fellow tug operator Rebonave also docked the Montevil for expansive steel work plus an auxiliary engine overhaul, ahead of the arrival of its sister vessel Montemuro.

A final project at the end of summer saw repair work delivered to Seaventure expedition ship, which boasts the highest ice class awarded to passenger vessels, supporting cruises to Antarctica.

A consistent programme of delivery so far in 2022 comes off the back of a significant breakthrough towards the end of 2021, after Navalrocha secured new work with global ocean conservation group, Sea Shepherd. The organisation, which was propelled into the public spotlight through the popular Netflix documentary Seaspiracy, entered the yard at the tail end of 2021, docking the Sam Simon and Bob Barker ocean patrol vessels. The former weather survey and long-range fast ice vessels are both named after American TV celebrity benefactors who donated substantial sums enabling their purchase. Currently operating in West Africa, in partnership with several African countries, they aim to bring an end to illegal fishing. While in Portugal, the vessels underwent pier side repair including main engine, propeller shaft, blasting, painting, piping and minor steel works.

Navalrocha Commercial Director Sergio Rodrigues said the yard will soon announce exciting news of further new clients wins, after securing a multi-faceted contract with a high-profile Dutch dredging company, involving significant renewal work across a series of vessels, starting in October. 

"Our yard continues to drive expansion in key growth markets including chemical tankers and LPG carriers," said Mr Rodrigues. "Both areas hold major potential due to our strategic location, close the industrial port hub of Sines, which has an ever-growing global profile as the gateway to Europe. We are also well positioned for vessels travelling to ports further north including Aveiro and Viana de Castelo. Elsewhere, we will continue offering all customers a number of unique benefits. Firstly, our sheltered base in the Tagus Bay provides ideal ship repair and conversion conditions, with more than 300 days of sunshine every year. We can provide faster and more cost-effective solutions to ship operators looking to avoid the congested Strait of Gibraltar or Mediterranean. Furthermore, the scale of our operation places us at an operational advantage with three easy-to-manage drydocks. This ensures every project receives ‘priority treatment’ from a 70-strong workforce and cluster of world-class sub-contractors located on site. 

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