Continuing quality

Located in Falmouth, A&P’s port boasts one of the world’s largest natural deep-water harbours. It is one of the largest ship-repair complexes in the UK, with three large graving docks and 750 metres of extensive alongside deepwater berths that can provide capacity for vessels up to 100,000 tonnes. A busy working port that handles over 100,000 tonnes of product every year, A&P Falmouth has more than 30 firms based in the docks that provide a complete range of marine services to the customer; these include towage, area port health, diving services and tank washing. On top of extensive workshop facilities, A&P Falmouth offers the ability to dock without gas-freeing, bunkering facilities, in-water surveys and propeller polishing.

A&P Falmouth has been providing ship repair and conversion services at the port for over 150 years, developing into a modern yard, with the largest of its three graving docks spread across 40 metres by 260 metres. It has also created long-standing relationships with clients such as the Ministry of Defence and P&O, and the yard recently completed a major project with longstanding partner Grimaldi for four new rudders. With many shiprepairing partnering agreements in place for up to 15 years, it is clear that A&P Falmouth is dedicated to efficiency, reliability and quality.

Its superior location gives A&P Falmouth the added benefit of being used by 24,000 plus cruise passengers annually who see Falmouth as the gateway to Cornwall. In 2012 the 112,000 tonne American Caribbean Princess successfully visited Falmouth bay, highlighting the importance of calls from cruise ships to Cornwall for the economy. One of the major issues highlighted by Cornwall Council’s planning policy advisory panel and cabinet in 2011 was the need to dredge the channel into Falmouth Docks, which would safeguard existing port functions and developing businesses that require the use of the port by larger vessels. A&P Falmouth is hoping, with the support of partners such as Falmouth Harbour Commissioners, to benefit from the dredge of its access channel by building a new load out quay. This would provide an 8.2 metre deep channel with a nine metre deep berthing pocket at all states of tide on a 400 metre long berth. “Cruise ship calls are good for business and the local area, of course,” says David Daniel, commercial director at A&P Falmouth. “The idea is to enable the largest cruise ships to come in, which clearly benefits the whole area.”

A&P Falmouth had a very productive year in 2012, working with a number of different clients, including the Royal FalmouthFleet Auxiliary (RFA) and the Royal Navy. “Last year was busy for us, we did a major docking refit on RFA Lyme Bay, worked on a wide range of vessels including reefers, ferries, passenger ships, tankers, car carriers and offshore vessels. This year we completed a refit for Seven Osprey, and have bookings for a cable lay vessel, offshore vessels, product tankers and more reefers. We are in negotiations for other projects and are hopeful of a healthy start to 2013,” enthuses David. A&P Falmouth has further work with the RFA Argus and Mounts Bay in the first half of the year and potential work with the Royal Navy in the pipeline.

Another major project for A&P in 2013 is the design and development of a vessel to make installation of tidal energy devices more cost effective and easier. The renewable energy project was awarded a grant of £1.5 million by the Technology Strategy Board for the design, development and commission of a barge equipped with a state-of-the-art Dynamic Positioning (DP) system. A&P will be providing a dry dock for the barge in Falmouth, and will also contribute its expertise to the production management and development process.

Considering the economic difficulties faced by businesses in the shipping industry, A&P Falmouth is keen to work with ship owners to ensure costs are kept as low as possible. “It is a case of working together. Clearly prices have to be right in a challenging and competitive market and the recent fall in the sterling exchange rate has reduced UK prices considerably for customers,” says David. “There has to be a willingness to work with the ship owners to make sure they stay within their budgets, to minimise costs and work towards getting the vessels turned around as quickly as possible. Time is money.” The company has seen the shipping industry squeezed during the recession and is looking to continue developing long-term relationships with ship owners. “I think long-term partnerships are the preference of ship owners, but it does have to be at the right price,” adds David. “We are still a people business, and we believe that ship owners need to have confidence in us to do what we say we can do for them.”

Looking towards the immediate future, David sees a continuation of current policy at A&P Falmouth. “We have our strategy of continuing to offer quality products to ship owners and to work with them to deliver vessels on time and on budget. To us, this is what it is all about, particularly when times are hard.”

A&P Falmouth
Ship repair and conversion
Providing a dry dock for a barge in Falmouth
Future port expansion