Video Interview: Dominicana Caribbean Shipyards Opens

Greg Trauthwein

Last month Ciramar Shipyards signed a strategic alliance with Fassmer Technical Projects to build and repair ships in the Dominican Republic under the Dominicana Caribbean Shipyards name.

“There’s been a need for a long time for a new shipyard to rise within the Caribbean region and the Americas in general, to be able to professionally service various ship types that transit the area,” said Craig R. Gundry, GM, Fassmer Technical Projects. “Luis and I came together a number of years ago and started a relationship working with each other in different ways. We were doing retrofits in various industries, including the cruise and oil and gas. As (we were) structured, we could already service a good amount of vessel types. But with (this) upgrade where we’re going to be able to do retrofits, conversions and major repairs on post-Panamax vessels.”

Luis E. Contreras, President, Ciramar (left) said the company aims to invest $50m in the shipyard to increase capacity and efficiencies. Image courtesy Ciramar

Through the agreement, Ciramar will expand its portfolio of solutions providing attention and service to a potential market of more than 7,000 ships that traverse the region annually, enabling it also to tap opportunities in the growing U.S. offshore wind power industry.Ciramar traditionally services about 65 dry dockings per year across a wide range of vessels, from tankers and barges, to bulk carriers, container ships and tugboats. Oftentimes it found itself with vessels waiting in line to get serviced.

Via the collaboration with Fassmer, Luis E. Contreras, President, Ciramar, said the idea is to provide faster turn-around on service, effectively expanding capacity to accommodate more, and larger ships each month. Contreras has high hopes for the collaboration with Fassmer, as currently Ciramar has three floating dry docks and 120,000 square meters of land, with a planned investment of $50 million to expand the facility. “That means adding another dry dock and also bringing a synchronized platform to move ships around the shipyard.”

Ciramar is a nearly 40-year-old company founded in 1984 by Contreras’ father, also named Luis, who graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy, with an advanced degree in naval architecture from the University of Michigan, making him the first naval architect in the Dominican Republic.

While the deal to expand will impact the shipping community with more options, Contreras sees a big impact for the local economy too, as the shipyard currently has about 400 (employees and contractors) people working. “This new alliance … will allow the generation of more than 600 specialized direct jobs in the first stage, projecting an expansion to more than 1,200 direct jobs in the next three years,” said Contreras.
Fassmer is a 171-year old German company with long experience in shipbuilding and repair, and this new teaming seeks to leverage that experience in a geographically ideal locale.

“There are lessons learned, best practices and knowledge transfer that we can impart,” said Gundry, ultimately giving the Dominican yard the tools, knowledge and training needed to deliver “European standards” in regards to ship repair and drydocking. The scope of the deal also includes maintenance, manufacture and local marketing of mechanical products, including propellers, stabilization and steering systems, thrusters, azimuth thrusters; as well as naval automation; ship repair; and personnel training with consulting in the design of naval devices.

Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 40,  Aug 2021

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