Leading French port Marseille Fos is set to re-open its giant Drydock 10 shiprepair facility – mothballed since 2000 – this autumn following a €28 million renovation project due for completion in September.
Work started early last year under a port authority plan to reintroduce a repair and maintenance base for some of the largest ships afloat. The 465-metre long, 85m wide drydock – third biggest in the world after Lisbon and Dubai – is aimed principally at mega cruiseships but will also target the latest generation container carriers, LNG tankers, bulk vessels and offshore rigs.
The dock first opened in 1975 to specialise in VLCC repairs but closed after 25 years as the market moved east. Marseille is now looking to capitalise on its position as the leading French cruise port by offering a repair base that minimises ship downtime – 65% of the world’s largest cruise vessels operate in the Mediterranean. Many of these visit the port, which last year saw cruise passengers rise by 12% to a record 1.3 million from 493 calls.
The 25-year operating franchise has been awarded to a group including Italy’s San Giorgio del Porto, the Mediterranean’s largest shiprepairer; their subsidiary Chantier Naval de Marseille, which already operates two smaller drydocks at the port; and Mariotti, the world’s fourth largest cruise ship builder.
Main elements of the overhaul are the construction of a new 9, 100 tonne dock gate and refurbishment of the electrical and pumping systems, with project management by French civil engineers Spie batignolles TPCI. Half of the project finance has been provided by the State and by two regional government authorities. The balance is coming from the port authority’s own funds and through a €5.9 million loan from the government-controlled investment body Caisse des Depots.
The Marseille Fos port authority is calling for expressions of interest in opening a visitor attraction on an upper storey of the former J1 warehouse, where the lower floors house the international ferry passenger terminal. The successful occupier would be granted an initial term to the end of 2017 pending finalisation of a long-term plan to transfer other passenger terminals to J1 and the surrounding area under a port-urban development scheme offering public amenities.
Press enquiries: Paul Ellis, Direct Public Relations, UK +44 (0)1923 260960