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Image courtest of Silvana Pupella

How Superyacht Shipyards are Coping with the COVID-19 Pandemic

20 March 2020 • Written by Miranda Blazeby

Leading superyacht yards from around the world have revealed how they are coping with the challenge of the global coronavirus outbreak.

Yards have adopted a series of measures to prioritise the health and safety of employees and minimise disruption to underway projects.

German yard Nobiskrug, which is currently building the 77-metre superyacht Black Shark, told BOAT International that it has implemented a “crisis management team” at the shipyard.

Projects underway at Nobiskrug currently include Project Black Shark

The task of this team is to “centrally monitor the various reports and new recommendations for action and implement them,” a statement from Nobiskrug said.

However, the yard remained optimistic and production is proceeding. “We remain confident that as a brand, an employer, a shipyard and builder of exceptional superyachts, we will continue to deliver on our commitments to our customers.”

Dutch shipyard Heesen has also made a number of changes to its working practices, which include introducing alternate shifts for yard workers to minimise human contact. Half the office staff are now working from home on a rotational basis.

Project Cosmos is currently underway at Heesen

Heesen employees also have the option to volunteer to work from the office to prioritise remote working for those with children. All non-essential meetings have been cancelled in favour of virtual alternatives.

The yard said it is not yet scaling back production and no projects have been delayed so far.

“For now, things are still under control and for the foreseeable time.” The yard said it is “missing one piece of equipment” for a yacht under construction but added it is a “non-essential part.”

“At Heesen we are actively and proactively following the government’s guidelines to curb the coronavirus outbreak,” the yard added.

Heesen recently confirmed the sale of Project Electra

UAE yard Gulf Craft said that delays will be “inevitable” but the builder was ready to adapt to the challenging circumstances.

“We are a very vertically integrated company and, if forced, we could produce nearly everything in-house,” a statement issued by the yard said.

It added that its production is currently “running to plan”.

“We still have yachts that need to be delivered as per the contract we have with the owners and thanks to our in-house capabilities, most of our production is self-sustained.”

It added that the in-build Majesty 175 and Majesty 120 have now entered their “final stages” while other projects including two Majesty 100s and a Nomad 75 SUV will be ready for delivery in the coming weeks.

The Majesty 175 Image courtesy of Tom van Oossanen

Like other shipyards, Gulf Craft has implemented home working for many staff and has introduced a “flexible plan” for production workers. This sees employees dealing with overseas suppliers working in the afternoon while employees dealing with local partners work in the morning.

“This allows for enough spacing in our offices and departments, keeps the required people in the office and continues our operational plan with minimal disruption,” the statement said.

Dutch superyacht yard Oceanco is doing its part “to help limit the social and economic impact of the disease” while protecting employees, it said.

A statement issued by chief executive Marcel Onkenhout read: “We have effective and secure systems in place that enable our teams across all areas of the business to continue our services from their remote places of work.”

Other measures include minimising the number of staff in the offices and on the ground at the shipyard. However, Onkenhout assured that underway projects have been “safeguarded” with “appropriate measures”.

Icon Yachts

At Icon Yachts, half of corporate office staff are now working from home with a rotational system in place.

A statement issued on behalf of the yard emphasised that there have been “no positive cases” of the virus in Harlingen, where the shipyard is based, or in the yard itself. As a result, production continues at the yard. Workers have been issued with face masks and gloves and been asked to maintain a safe distance from one another with no handshaking.

While the yard remains open, Icon said there would be “some slowing down of production activities”. The yard’s refit business is also continuing and does “not face any significant delays”. Icon estimated its production activities would begin to recover from April.

“We follow the guidelines issued by our government, and we are prepared to take all necessary steps to prevent the further spread of this disease; overall we can remain optimistic that all projects will continue to move forward as smoothly as possible in the challenging times ahead,” the yard said.

Damen launched Blue Ocean earlier this month

Amels and Damen Yachting have also taken steps to implement social distancing at work, while production shifts have also been introduced to “reduce contact to a minimum”.

However, managing director Rose Damen emphasised the yard “remains open for business”.

“During these times we retain our focus on the projects we are currently working on for our clients, whilst simultaneously working hard to minimise the impact and spread of the virus,” she said.

Elsewhere, Horizon Yachts in Taiwan “continues business operations as normal”. The builder attributed this to “extremely rapid response and safety protocols implemented by the Taiwanese government.”

In Finland, sailing yacht builder Nautor’s Swan said it is “working hard to make sure to contain possible delays the emergency could cause.”

It added: “Although the current situation is very delicate, we are staying fully positive and we believe the world will come out of this stronger than ever.”

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