In the dock

Navalria Drydocks was founded in 1978 as a ship repair yard. Based in Aveiro, Portugal, the yard has progressed over its lifetime into a number of other services including newbuilding and onshore fabrication work. The site possesses a 100 metre drydock, 60 metre floating dock, 38 metre ship lift and a 50 metre slipway. With these, alongside a variety of workshops and offices, Navalria can offer construction and repair services to vessels of aluminium or steel, as well as repair work for wood and glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) vessels.

One of the yard’s most significant developments happened four years ago. Technical and commercial director Nuno Santos discusses it further: “In 2008, Martifer – a company involved with steel constructions and renewable energies – bought the shipyard in order to build a prototype of a wave energy convertor. Martifer has the Future Lives in Ocean Waves (FLOW) project to build wave energy equipment. The yard had to be converted to be able to build the energy equipment, and these use basically the same tools as those used for shipbuilding. The financial crisis has put the FLOW project on standby so we are putting the shipyard facilities to good use by branching into shipbuilding.”

Since moving into shipbuilding, business for Navalria has been reliably steady and the yard has gained a good reputation within the regional community for its skill. Most recently a contract for the building of two river cruising hotel vessels – Amavida and Queen Isabel – was awarded to Navalria by Douro Azul, Portugal’s foremost river cruise operator. Navalria had already delivered similar vessels in the past to Douro Azul so, when this 22 million euro contract was tendered in March 2012, Navalria was a logical winner.

“We were competing with other shipyards from Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands but our combination of quality, delivery time and price won the tender,” says Nuno. “These ships will cruise in the beautiful landscapes of the Douro river, northern Portugal, amidst the vineyards where Port wine originates. They will make weekly cruises, stopping each night in a different location until they reach Spain.

“We are proud of what is being installed onboard. Extensive facilities are included for the benefit of passengers including regular rooms and suites with balconies, restaurants with verandas, a lounge, swimming pool, spa, terrace deck, helicopter deck, gymnasium, and complete onboard HDTV with broadband internet access. The vessels will have Bureau Veritas classification and comply with the latest European directives for passenger vessels for inland navigation. Considering the topography of the Douro valley, exceptional manoeuvrability is a must. This is achieved by means of two azimuthal columns for propulsion, each with two counter-rotating propellers and bow thrusters capable of sideways and forward thrust.”

Amavida and Queen Isabel will be similarly fitted out and are 79.5 metres in length with a beam of 11.4 metres. The two vessels are under construction at the moment and are expected to enter operation in the first half of 2013, when Amawaterways and Uniworld will take on operational duties.

River cruise ferries are just one of the types of vessels that Navalria has worked on, some more niche than others. In the last few years the yard has constructed Ro-pax ferries, day cruisers and river cruisers of course for a variety of local ship owners including Transtejo, Douro Azul and Via d’Ouro. With more than three decades of ship repair experience behind it, the yard is also able to repair many different vessels with ferries, tugs, dredgers and fishing boats amongst the most common during the last two years.

A combination of new markets and high profile projects has helped Navalria remain busy despite Europe’s economic troubles. “The market continues resenting the global crisis but we have managed to keep contracts running, which gives us confidence in the future,” explains Nuno. However these wouldn’t be possible without Navalria’s own strengths. “We have a very flexible and competent team and the yard is capable of adapting to each client’s particular demands. Furthermore, belonging to a big steel construction group, the yard has immediate access to extensive know-how, machinery, management and workforce,” adds the director.

Looking forward, then, Navalria appears to be in an excellent position to continue on its path of construction and repairs whilst Martifer awaits the return of its FLOW project. Nuno talks about the future of the yard with confidence: “We have several offers out in the market at the moment and are also in the process of tendering for other projects. Over the next few years we will maintain both the repair and newbuild activities. There is a market in Europe and Africa for vessels under 100 metres and Navalria has proved its competitiveness with these vessels. We are also keeping an eye on the offshore market where we can supply auxiliary structures for both the oil and gas and the renewable energy sectors.”

Major cruise vessels contract
Owned by Martifer
Plenty of future opportunities