Traditional twist

Whilst the history of Assens Shipyard A/S stretches back an impressive 160 years in its own right, the shipbuilding heritage of Assens harbour, Denmark, goes much deeper – back 1700 years to the time of the Vikings. Following the reconstruction of the harbour in 1847, Assens Shipyard was formed three years later in 1850 and since this time has been a purveyor of the area’s long standing traditions offering refit, repair and new build services to Denmark’s shipping industry.

Building upon this reputation, Assens Shipyard is currently undergoing a major 25 million Danish krone (kr) investment programme in order to update and extend its facilities. “At present there are very few Danish shipyards that are investing in upgrading their facilities,” explains Erling Pedersen, managing director of Assens Shipyard. “However despite the recession, we have continued to see very high volumes of work within the business and this has prompted us to look towards the future by investing in our facilities. In recent weeks we have installed a new high-capacity crane, and are also undertaking works to increase the depth of the harbour and establish a new quay.”

At the core of this programme is Assens Shipyard’s new floating dock facility, which is due to be operational from early July 2011. Capable of accommodating vessels of up to 100 metres in length and 18.5 metres in width, with a lifting capacity of 2100 tonnes, this investment brings with it increased opportunities for the business. The new dock sits alongside the company’s existing floating dock, which has a capacity for 65 metre vessels with a width of 14 metres. Furthermore, this dock is completely covered, and heated where necessary, in order to undertake special and demanding works.

“Today we can undertake work on vessels of up to 80 metres in length, but with this investment our goal is to attract customers with larger vessels,” notes Erling. “We definitely foresee an increase in our workload over the next few years given our ability to accommodate this new size of vessel. In addition, our covered dry dock facilities will continue to attract bookings as we can undertake this work at any time of the year.”

In fact, Assens Shipyard’s existing capacity is currently fully booked right up to September, with the business looking to bring in further projects following the launch of its newest dry dock. To date, Assens Shipyard has predominately concentrated on the local Danish market, including the Danish Navy, supplemented by various work from Greenland and Norway. However, the business is now turning its focus to the tender markets of Germany over the next year due to this boosted capacity.

With many years of experience behind it, Assens Shipyard is able to offer its services to vessels of all classes, including workboats, reefers, sailing vessels, trawlers, tugs and ferries. The bulk of the company’s activities are made up of repairs, maintenance and dry-docking services, but it also brings its expertise to conversion and refit projects, as well as service and inspection activities. Aside from ship refits and conversion of any kind, Assens Shipyard also constructs new build vessels. Currently the business is working on a 48-metre passenger ferry, which is due for delivery in September 2011.

“There are a lot of small ferry companies within Denmark servicing various islands, and we secured the contract for this new vessel, despite being up against shipyards from Eastern Europe, which are traditionally cheaper than those in Denmark. I believe this is in part due to our ability to undertake all aspects, such as the propulsion system and vessel engine, in-house which reduces hardware costs. We have also aligned ourselves with a shipyard in Poland, which carries out the initial steelwork, before transferring that to our site in Denmark for the more complex outfitting process,” elaborates Erling.

He continues with the other strengths of the business: “We have a reputation for being able to turn around vessels very quickly, which means that even though we charge Scandinavian prices, clients benefit from a reduced downtime. The reasons why we can achieve this level of performance is through our skilled craftsmen, many of which have worked within the industry for years, and ability to undertake all services in-house. This removes the necessity for expensive subcontractors. In order to facilitate this delivery, we have carefully located our various facilities in close proximity to each other, to minimise the amount of time lost moving between areas.” Certainly, Assens Shipyard’s busy order book demonstrates the benefits of this flexible and efficient nature. Whilst retaining the heritage of a family-run client-focused business, the current major investment plans indicate that Assens Shipyard is aware of the commercial advantages of a modern facility. As the business prepares to attract both new and old clients with its expanded offering, Erling concludes with his ambition for the future: “Over the next few years, I envisage the business looking to target the tanker market. Due to the strict regulations of the major oil companies, this is a sector where money is regularly spent on maintenance and upgrades. Previously we didn’t have the capacity to accommodate these vessels, but with the introduction of our new dry dock, we will be looking for opportunities within the Norwegian and German market.”

Long history in traditional shipbuilding region
Major investment programme underway, including new floating dock
Looking to move into tanker market