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Dramatic year for German shipbuilding

20 Apr 2017

Bow assembly at Meyer - riding high on newbuilding surge

Bow assembly at Meyer – riding high on newbuilding surge

It has been a dramatic year in German shipbuilding with newbuilding on a high and repair and conversion facing consolidation challenges and changing markets, writes Germany Correspondent Tom Todd.

Against an acknowledged global decline in shipbuilding, German yards are holding their own thanks to strong positions in newbuilding markets like cruise ships, luxury private yachts and RoRo as well as naval and specialised tonnage.

Germany was the second biggest newbuilding market in the world last year after China – something not seen for a long time. The chances of that continuing are good, analysts say, but there are words of caution. Peter Hackmann at leading cruise ship builder Meyer Werft notes that ‘competition will continue to be very intense’ from Asia and China in particular. Reinhard Lüken, who heads the German shipbuilding association VSM, points to the potential of recent yard changes but also cautions that ‘we must not rest on our laurels’.

As of April the Meyer Group had orders for 26 ocean-going and inland cruise ships plus a ferry and a gas tanker. Fourteen cruise ships were on order at Meyer Papenburg and ten at Meyer Turku. All are for delivery by the end of 2023 and five are prototypes.

Steel cutting for the first of two 181,000gt LNG cruise ships for delivery to AIDA Cruises from Papenburg next year and in 2021 began in February. Two sisters are being completed in 2019 and 2021 for Costa Cruises in Turku.They are Meyer’s first complete LNG-driven ships and Peter Hackmann told The Motorship that LNG was “especially relevant among the many technical innovations in newbuildings”. Others he singled out were LED lighting, cruise ship fuel cells for power generation and IT innovations.

The LNG newbuildings will have MaK 16 M 46 DF engines and LNG supply and handling systems from Caterpillar. Topping even the LNG ships for size, however is a 200,000gt cruise ship for completion by Turku for RCI in 2022.

In late April Papenburg was delivering its biggest ever ship. Norwegian Cruise Lines’ 168,750gt Norwegian Joy is the second Breakaway Plus ship after Norwegian Escape last year. It has five main engines of total 102,900 hp – twoType MAN B&W 14V48/60CR and three MAN B&W 12V48/60CR. All with scrubber systems, they combine with a propulsion system comprising two ABB Azipod XO units of total 40MW to provide 22.5 knots.


Norwegian Joy is for the Chinese market. Also for Asia is Papenburg’s second newbuilding of this year, the151,300gt World Dream. A sister to Genting Dream, completed last year, it is being delivered late October. The ships have four MAN B&W diesels – two 12V 48/60CR and two 16V 48/6 units – providing more than 23 knots.

Meyer’s second German yard, Neptun in Rostock-Warnemünde, was this year delivering two more inland cruise ships as well as an LNG gas tanker prototype – the Super 1A ice class 18,000cbm LNG carrier Coral EnergICE for Anthony Veder will use LNG boil-off gas as a fuel for its main MaK 8M46DF engine and two CG132M-16 gas auxiliaries.

In 2018, after completing a 75.9m ferry for a local operator, Neptun assumes a new role as the builder of floating engine room units (FERUs) for the entire Meyer Group. It is building an initial one now – for the first of Meyer’s two AIDA LNG cruise ships. FERU production proper starts next year with the inauguration of a new production hall in which millions of euro are being invested. Meyer head Bernard Meyer said “Neptun is assuming an important role as a systems deliverer ….”. Three FERUs will be built in 2018 and three more in 2019 and 2020 before things get into full swing with four FERUs a year up to 2023 for a total of 22 engine rooms.

Neptun managing director Raimon Strunck told The Motorship the new hall, about 140m long, 60m wide and 45m high, will be used to build entire engine rooms including LNG tanks where required.“We will install all the components in Warnemünde, including main engines, gas plants, all the other components, pipes, cables coating and insulation. In addition we will test and take the machinery into operation”, he said. “Everything that lies in the 140m midship section of a ship will be built by us ready to use” and when completed and floated out “Papenburg and Turku will not need to touch a single thing!”, Strunck declared.

Neptun also hopes for series benefits with the FERUs – something already won with a long line of river ships. Strunck, himself an engineer, told this correspondent “we want to increase productivity by at least 25%. Building four of these big components equates, in pure mechanical engineering terms, to building 12 river ships a year”.


Meyer Papenburg is also getting new hall space to improve productivity. Structural components for improved ‘conveyor belt’ section assembly were being supplied and installed in May and June this year by EMS Schiffbau in Emden. Under a deal worth €4 million, EMS was supplying ten 25x34x2.8 m, 210 tonne platforms to serve as surfaces for a block conveyor belt where sections will be assembled before moving to outfitting. To accommodate the new flow, Meyer’s Hall 1V is being lengthened by some 100m.

Now underway at Genting’s new MV Werften (MVW) Group on the German Baltic coast is an ambitious five year production programme worth a reported €3.5 billion. It’s hardly a year since Genting bought the three Nordic Yards facilities in Wismar, Stralsund and Rostock-Warnemünde for €240 million and, with almost wand-waving speed created new work and jobs in a shipbuilding region facing decline.

MVW spokeswoman Susanne Meyer told The Motorship the first of four 135m inland cruise ships – Crystal Bach – was being delivered this summer by Wismar and a sister, Crystal Mahler, soon afterwards. She said there would be four ships in the giant dock after keels are laid late May for Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel. They are for delivery next year to Crystal River Cruises, a Genting subsidiary.

Work is also getting underway this year on the group’s first expedition cruise ship and its first ocean-going cruise ship. Three Endeavor Class cruise yachts of 20,000gt are being built at MVW’s Stralsund yard for delivery 2019, 2020 and 2021 to Genting’s Crystal Yacht Cruises. Finally two Global Class cruise ships of more than 200,000gt are under build in Stralsund and in MVW’s Rostock yard for delivery to Genting’s Star Cruises in 2020 and 2021. ABB will supply the power, propulsion and automation packages for those ships – Azipod D units for the cruise yachts and three Azipod XO thrusters each for the Global giants.

Noting the specialised capabilities of MVW’s three yards Susanne Meyer noted that final outfitting of the biggest two ships was planned for Wismar. “The large, covered shipbuilding dock hall is particularly suitable for fitting out of the Global Class ships”, she said, while the size and weight of the Endeavour Class cruise yachts were well suited to Stralsund’s shiplift. “Our three yards are big and modern, capable of optimal production and able to build independent of weather”. Their closeness to each other also meant maximum synergies, she added.


Meyer also drew attention to plans for even further expansion. “We are currently investing in the modernisation of facilities and logistics infrastructures,” she said. That refers to a €75 million investment in a new thin-plate production plant with advanced laser-hybrid welding. It is being installed in September and commissioned next February. Genting is also investing €72 million in a Wismar plant for pre-manufactured ship cabins.

After 2021 Genting says a “heightened” production programme will kick in at MVW, with two Global Class ships and two Endeavor cruise yachts planned for completion every year.

At Genting’s other shipyard location, Lloyd Werft Bremerhaven (LWB), there are indications of some quiet optimism and confidence in a new flexible future. That appears to have replaced some of the disappointment over the surprise reversal last year of Genting’s original plans for newbuilding on the Weser.

A gradual consolidation is now evident at LWB along with a return to what the yard has always done best – repair and conversion. It has said it will concentrate on both newbuilding and conversion of yachts and special ship prototypes as well as on the conversion of cruise ships. It already has plenty of experience in all those sectors as well as in commercial repair.

LWB acknowledged that the latest change of direction means “far-reaching” structural and work force adjustments and there has already been some short-time working and some lay-offs this year. That, as the yard consolidates and sets its sights on increasing quality, minimising interfaces and creating synergies using its own production capacities and its new Design Centre.

Among the latest callers at LWB has been the 42,289gt cruise ship AIDAvita. AIDA Cruises said it had chosen LWB for routine classification and maintenance work as well as for “extensive beauty treatment”. LWB refurbished the first AIDAblu and AIDAbella a few years ago. AIDAvita stayed for 11 days in March and April for what AIDA Cruises said was “comprehensive” work. In addition to regular safety and maintenance, many areas of the ship were remodelled or upgraded and exteriors painted, AIDA also said.

LWB has also said that “in co-operation with other local shipbuilding concerns, the docks, workshops and production capacities of Lloyd Werft will in future be utilised for other types of ships”. It already regularly shares docks with neighbouring repair and conversion yard German Dry Docks (GDD).


That yard has now also just created a new ship repair and conversion alliance with the BREDO Dockgesellschaft in Bremerhaven and the Mützelfeldtwerft in Cuxhaven. They have joined forces in cross-yard docking in the face of what they described as “cut-throat” competition on the market. GDD operates five docks, BREDO four – all in Bremerhaven – while Mützelfeldtwerft has one on the busy Elbe estuary.

GDD managing director Guido Försterling told The Motorship that by bundling activities and concentrating on individual strengths it was hoped to “increase synergies, flexibility and the exploitation of … capacities”.

BREDO managing director Dirk Harms added: “Each yard had to reject orders in the past when its own docks were occupied” and the alliance meant “higher dock capacity and direct reaction to fluctuating workloads”. The inclusion of GDD drive specialist associate MWB Power means the alliance can now offer scrubber retrofits and ballast water treatment alongside repair, large-scale conversion and lengthening.

On target at GDD for end May was what is said to be the world’s first conversion of a container feeder ship to DF propulsion. Wessels Reederei’s Christian P. Hoepfner told this correspondent the existing MAN 8L48/60B engine on the Type SSW 1000 Wes Amelie was being converted into a Type 8L51/60 DF engine and a complete gas system installed. Hoepfner said if the conversion succeeded, three sister ships would also be re-equipped.

Just completed by GDD has been complex engine and drive maintenance on the unique, multi-purpose 7,363dwt =, D2 offshore cable and support ship Ndeavor. Its propulsion system comprises two TH1500MZ bow Azimuth thrusters, two TH1000MKLR retractable Azimuth thrusters and one 56TT800ML tunnel thruster. Its two engine rooms have four MTU diesel-electric plants. Elsewhere MWB Power repaired engine damage on the 17,002dwt container feeder Langeness.

BREDO’s Harms said the11,647gt Norwegian explorer ferry Fram was expected for regular docking late April. It is the third Hurtugruten ferry to call recently, following the 16,140gt explorer post ship Trollfjord and sister Midnatsol. Trollfjord came for a month of dock, maintenance and class work. Its two Rolls Royce Aquamaster Contaz 38 pods were exchanged for more energy efficient units.

Other BREDO callers included the13,450dwt cargo ship Diana for docking and propulsion system work. More unusual was the docking of the 10,238dwt heavy lift module carrier Vir Varenya for work prior to a new wind farm rotor blade and gondola transport charter. The work included deck mounting of special lash equipment and sea fastenings and renaming as Vestvind.

BREDO also tackled rudder repairs on the small cargo ship Alrek while the 15,161dwt chemical tanker Lemonia, the 17,300dwt cargo ship BBC Amazon and the 8,199dwt container feeder Samba all called for routine maintenance.


In Hamburg, “about 300” shipyard workers faced redundancy in the wake of the take-over last autumn of Blohm + Voss by Bremen-based Lürssen Maritime Beteiligungen. B+V – once Germany’s mightiest shipyard – has struggled to stay afloat in newbuilding in recent years under several owners. It has however held its own as a top address in commercial repair and refurbishment, particularly for cruise ships, tankers and offshore vessels. The city does not want to lose that edge.

Earlier this year B+V managers under managing director Dieter Dehlke spoke of “high cost structures, missed investments and a low order backlog”. They concluded: “Blohm + Voss is in a critical condition”.

In April Lürssen quoted an unidentified spokesman at B+V saying “The Lürssen Group offers a sound ownership structure… Lürssen is planning to utilise our shipyard to strengthen its repair and refit activities for commercial ships, navy ships and yachts. This means that previous refit and repair services, including cruise ships, will continue.”

Hamburg Economics Senator Frank Horch, a former head of B+V, also believes Lürssen is now the best possible partner for B+V.

At B+V Repair until late April was the 56,700dwt con-ro cargo ship Atlantic Sail for general repairs and container cell guide modification. Other recent visitors included the 11,730dwt wind turbine installation vessel MPI Enterprise for hull coating, valve overhaul, thruster maintenance, exchange of alu anodes and anchor chains and chain chest inspection as well as crane maintenance. MPI Offshore managing director Peter Robinson was quoted as saying the work went to plan. Another recent caller was the 69,153gt cruise ship Oriana for coating, propulsion system servicing, bow and stern thruster maintenance, steel and pipe repairs and chiller unit exchange.

Recent repair work at Hamburg’s Norderwerft – now a Blohm+Voss sister within the Lurssen Group – included bulbous bow repairs to the 72,00dwt container ship BF Fortaleza and replacement of gearing on the 12,500dwt cargo carrier Lone.

Lürssen spokesman Oliver Grün told The MotorShip the overhaul of the entire engine room on the 17,800 container ship Thetis D had been ”a particular challenge”. He said the main engine, badly damaged in an accident, was lifted out and transported to MAN by floating crane. A further highlight, Grün said, was a scrubber system retrofit on the world’s first hybrid LNG barge Hummel, which serves as a floating power plant in Hamburg.


The Lürssen Group, continues to lead the field in Germany’s lucrative if understandably secretive private mega yacht and naval work sectors. A family concern like Meyer Werft, Lürssen now groups six repair and newbuilding yards from Bremen to the Polish border, together employing some 2,800 people. It builds some of the world’s biggest and most expensive yachts, like the 180m Azzam in 2013, and has a substantial share in naval work for Germany and others.

Lürssen however is just one of a number of German yards – among them also Abeking Rasmussen, Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems and German Naval Yards – doing such technically sophisticated and lucrative work. It may fall outside the traditional scope of The Motorship shipbuilding reports but it remains a German mainstay along with cruise ship building and components supply. One recent report said the value of naval orders alone this year in German yards could well exceed €10 billion for the first time.

Elsewhere impressive new tonnage is currently emerging at individual yards away from the mainstream. Hamburg’s PellaSietas is building a 132m long trailing suction hopper dredger for German authorities. It is for delivery late next year which the yard says makes the job “challenging” given the complexity of the €95 million newbuilding. It will load 7,500m3 and have “particularly eco-friendly” diesel-electric drive for Elbe tidal operations.

Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) is again building its classic ro-ro 4100 cargo ships 17 years after the first in the series helped establish the yard as a world leader in ro-ro tonnage. FSG owner Siem Shipping ordered four 4100s, two for charter to DFDS and two for Turkey’s Ekol. FSG said the type “has been reworked and prepared for the latest requirements of energy-efficient operation”.

The first 4100 appeared in 2000 and 30 have been built since then, making it one of the most successful of all German series. The original ships were 193m long and of 2,640 lane metres. Their successors are 210m long and of 4,100lm.

The first of the two DFDS ships, Gardenia Seaways, was handed over in February. The second follows in September. DFDS said further cargo, combined ro-pax and cruise ferry newbuilds were being considered – which could bode well for FSG.


The yard is also building a ro-pax ferry for the Irish Continental Group for delivery in May 2018. It will be 194.8m long of 2,800lm. Reports meanwhile tipped early finalisation of financing on a new 42,000gt FSG ro-pax ferry for Brittany Ferries. A letter of intent for the design and construction of the new LNG-driven, 185m long, 2,600lm newbuild was signed in December. For delivery in 2019, Brittany Ferries said it was “a concrete step towards the construction of a new generation of Brittany Ferries ships” – another indication FSG could be in line for more.

Being handed over in May by Ferus Smit in Leer was the 10,500dwt offshore supply ship Symphony Provider – second in a pair of sophisticated ECOBOX DP2 long-range newbuildings. The Dutch-owned yard delivered sister Symphony Performer in December.

The latest newbuildings are driven propelled by two MAK 8M25 main engines and one MAK 6M25C generator for DP operations. Propulsion is from two ducted azimuthing 2,200kW Schottel 4000 SRPs aft and three1,200kW Schottel STT 5 bow thrusters forward.The DP system is Kongsberg K-Pos 21 DP 2.

Jan Vellenga at the yard told The Motorship the facility will build two more ships and that work will start in August on four 16,500dwt ships for Arklow.

The atest substantial prestige job at bulging specialist yard Fassmer is a new 74m survey, wreck location and research newbuilding for the Berlin Transport Ministry. The €113.8 million ship will have dual fuel LNG-diesel drive and be the world’s first ocean-going ship of its kind. Named Atair it will replace a current namesake and will be Germany’s most modern locally serving research ship. It will operate from early 2020 with the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) and boast a 3,100kW Wärtsilä main engine and two dual-fuel generators.

Finally, current specialist ship work is not restricted to newbuilding. Personnel from Elsflether Werft are using BREDO dock space for repairs lasting into 2018 on the German navy’s 81.2m sail training ship Gorch Fock 11. The cost is expected to be about €75 million and a navy spokesman told this correspondent the work on the three-masted barque included “the renewal of the biggest part of the external hull as well as the masts and the upper deck”.

There had been fears Berlin might baulk at the high cost of repairing the sailship and scrap it. However it is now planned to keep the 60 year old Gorch Fock sailing until 2030. “This will give the Navy sufficient time to plan a new sail training ship”, the spokesman said.