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Falmouth Docks faces quiet month
2:03pm Wednesday 4th December 2013 in News
The European ship repair market is an extremely cyclical and cut throat business as we have witnessed during the past quarter, says the Packet's In Port expert David Barnicoat.
A downturn in shipping and the continued delays to the dredging of Falmouth Harbour to allow access by bigger vessels meant a reduction in the A&P workforce was unavoidable, forcing the company to implement redundancies.
With fluctuating freight rates ship owners are sometimes forced to cancel dry-dockings at the last minute due to market conditions or other events.
A&P Falmouth’s managing director Peter Child confirmed that December will be a very quiet month for the yard.
Star Reefers, who operate the youngest fleet of specilaised reefer ships in the world, had three ships scheduled for dry-docking here in December. The Star Standard, Star Trust and Star First were expected to dry dock for minor repairs and hull painting. Star Standard is now expected later this month with the other vessels postponed until mid 2014 as one of their vessels being extended in China had a collision during final sea trials and this has changed the current operating schedules.
The company has chartered out four of its Star First series vessels to Fyffes for a further two years until the end of 2014. The vessels have been chartered to Fyffes since they were delivered from the yard under a ten-year charter agreement to Siem Shipping about six years ago.
The charters have now been extended for a further two years at “rates which generate a positive return.”
Looking further ahead to February, A&P Falmouth has secured a contract to refit the Irish Ferries ferry Oscar Wilde which will follow the second Condor Ferry Express in January.
Mr Child said: “We are working hard to secure two more ferry contracts with another ship owner.”
The halcyon days of Falmouth repairing 15 ferries in a season are long gone. Now with fuel costs, crew wages and port dues ferry operators are reluctant to have their ships make long passages to a repair port.