By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
MONTHS after a crane collapsed and damaged Grand Bahama Shipyard’s largest dock, Carnival Corporation is planning a $100 million investment to build a new and bigger dock.
Giora Israel, senior vice president of global ports and destination development, said the investment, which has not been finalised and is in the beginning stages of discussions, will also comprise development of infrastructure to expand the shipyard’s capacity.
“We are determined to make this yard again a great yard, possibly bringing it back to the number one cruise ship repair facility in the world,” Mr Israel told reporters yesterday in Miami. “(The dry dock) will be the biggest floating dock to be built in the last decade anywhere in the world and it’s likely to be built in China.”
A Royal Caribbean International ship was being serviced when the dry dock’s crane collapsed, injuring eight employees.
Mr Israel said officials expect to lose tens of millions of dollars this year after the accident left the company functioning at only 25 percent of its capacity.
“We are now in a situation that is obviously not very welcome in Grand Bahama of having the world’s largest cruise ship repair facility really crippled and its production gone down dramatically,” he said.
Hundreds of expatriates have already been laid off and forced to return to their countries. However, the company has committed to employing all its Bahamian staff on a 40-hour work week schedule even though, Mr Israel said, it could let go about 100 of them because of the reduced needs.
“We are just sweating it through until we are able to get the operation back,” he said. “We have a lot of pressure from shareholders to support our operating expenses, obviously labour, but also our debt servicing for the loans that are outstanding at the yard. The cruise lines that are 80 percent owners of the shipyard, Royal Caribbean and Carnival, have not yet taken out one single penny of a dividend.”
Shipyard officials hope to meet government representatives within the next few weeks to discuss plans for expanding the shipyard.
In addition to last year’s crane accident, Hurricane Dorian damaged another one of the docks at the facility, further reducing its capacity.
Mr Israel said the setbacks came even as officials began discussing plans for a larger dry dock that could take in larger ships. He said to break down the damaged dock, the company has spent about $10m.