Panamax floating dock arrives in Walvis Bay

namibia floating dockJULY 5, 2013 — Ship repair company Elgin Brown and Hamer (EBH) Namibia says that its Panamax sized third floating dry dock arrived in Walvis Bay today.

EBH Namibia announced its plans to add the dock last month (see earlier story).

NAMPORT, the Namibian Ports Authority, is the majority shareholder in EBH Namibia. The balance of shares were recently acquired by South Africa's DCD Group, making EBH Namibia part of the DCD Marine cluster of companies.

The company says the arrival of the third dock will substantially increase its docking capacity and its ability to compete on an international scale. The third dock will be able to accomodate vessels up to 190 meters in length and 33 meters in beam.

"The increase in capacity will allow us more flexibility to provide a world class service to our customers. The size of the dock alone will allow us to expand our markets and attract work that might have had to go elsewhere," says Hannes Uys, Chief Executive Officer of EBH Namibia.

He said that the company identified a need to increase its docking capacity in late 2011.

"We explored various options, and finall y sourced the ideal size dock in Newcastle, Australia, and the purchase was concluded in November 2012," says Mr. Uys.

The floating dock was previously owned by Australian shipbuilder and repairer Forgacs Engineering and had long been a Newcastle harbor landmark. At the time of its sale, Forgacs CEO Lindsay Stratton told local media that due to a lack of demand for drydocking ships, the dock had remained closed since late 2010.

The arrival of the unit in Walvis Bay is being hailed as good news for the Namibian economy.

"The significance of the arrival of the third dock cannot be overestimated in terms of job creation and skills development in Namibia, as well as economic growth in the region," says Mr. Uys. "Since its inception in 2006, EBH Namibia has contributed an estimated N$1.3 billion to the Namibian economy."

The commissioning of a floating dock the size of the Panamax does not come without its logistical challenges, however.

Willie Esterhuyse, Commercial Manager at EBH Namibia, explains: "Having been out of operation for almost three years, the dock required preparation work to ensure safe delivery to Namibia. This included the replacement of approximately 200 tons of steel which was carried out in Batam, Indonesia. The newly refurbished dock left Batam on April 18, 2013, but bad weather meant that the arrival has been delayed by almost 30 days."

The commissioning of the dock in port, scheduled for September 2013, entails four dimensions, according to Mr. Esterhuyse. All work will be carefully planned to ensure a minimum impact on current operations.

"The first dimension is the preparation of the site, which includes the placement of the mooring blocks, dredging, moving Namdock 1 to her new position and placing Namdock 3 in her new position," says Mr. Esterhuyse. "This process is well underway and simultaneously the remobilization of all equipment, such as cranes, pumps, valves and the offloading of the floating crane has to be carried out in the main port. The third and fourth is the continuation of the repairs carried out in Batam and the training of our dock operational staff."

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