Damen commits to redevelop Montenegrin Bijela shipyard
by Miranda Blazeby
Dutch superyacht yard Damen has pledged to transform Montenegro’s historic Bijela shipyard together with the Montenegrin government and Adriatic Marinas.
Plans to redevelop the former shipyard in the UNESCO protected Boka Bay have been in progress since 2012. They moved a step closer on November 30 when a Concession Agreement for the shipyard was signed following the completion of a number of technical surveys.
The agreement states that the shipyard will be transformed over the next 12 months into a superyacht repair and refit facility, with completion due in 2020. However, the shipyard could be in operation as soon as winter 2019.
More than 300 people are expected to return to the marine industry as a result of the agreement and recruitment and training through Damen’s apprenticeship programme is already underway. Plans are also in motion for state-of-the-art lifting and repair equipment to be brought to the facility.
The shipyard is located in the same bay as the luxury superyacht marina and village Porto Montenegro, which will provide the yard with “a strong customer base”, according to chief executive of Damen, Rene Berkvens.
“Together with our partners we take a long-term view on making yacht maintenance and refit in Montenegro a success,” he added. “With the continuous full support of the Montenegrin government, and in close cooperation with our strong partner and the local community, we aim to restore the yard’s health, increase employment and pursue fitting commercial opportunities both locally and internationally that will contribute to rebuilding activity levels.”