MONUMENTAL INVESTMENT: GB Shipyard announces $600 million transformation project

MONUMENTAL INVESTMENT: GB Shipyard announces $600 million transformation project
Grand Bahama Shipyard.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Grand Bahama Shipyard has announced that it is embarking on a $600 million transformation, marking a substantial investment in the Grand Bahamian economy. 

The shipyard, together with shareholders Royal Caribbean Group and Carnival Corporation, recently received government approval to proceed with an expansion project that is estimated to bring billions of dollars in economic impact to Grand Bahama’s economy. 

The investment is intended to help the shipyard regain its position as the largest cruise ship repair facility in the world. The price tag of $600 million includes the construction, delivery to Freeport, and commissioning of two world-class floating docks that will allow the shipyard to service the entire range of cruise ships in operation and under construction, as well as much of the world’s commercial shipping fleet. 

Prime Minister Philip Davis hailed the expansion project as “a new and promising chapter in the story of Grand Bahama.” 

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments & Aviation Chester Cooper, said: “The timing of the Grand Bahama Shipyard expansion project coincides beautifully with our efforts to revitalize Grand Bahama’s tourism industry. This project is just the impetus that Grand Bahama needs to further boost the island’s economic growth. It is a strong show of confidence that Grand Bahama Shipyard is establishing the world’s largest ship repair facility in the Bahamas.” 

Minister for Grand Bahama Ginger Moxey stated: “As the shipyard undergoes this remarkable evolution, it will serve as a beacon of progress, bringing jobs, entrepreneurial spin-off opportunities, and a renewed sense of pride to the people of Grand Bahama. Together, we embark on a journey toward a brighter and more prosperous future.” 

Already the largest private non-tourism employer in The Bahamas, the expanded shipyard operations will create a significant economic boost in Grand Bahama, with opportunities for Bahamians, local businesses, and contractors, including hundreds of full-time jobs at the shipyard once it is in full operation.

“For half a century, we have worked side-by-side with The Bahamas and Bahamian businesses and contributed to the growth of the Bahamian economy while delivering unforgettable cruise vacations to millions of people,” said Josh Weinstein, CEO and Chief Climate Officer of Carnival Corporation & plc.

“The success of our enduring partnership is built on our shared conviction that people must always be at the forefront of our thinking. That mindset is evident in the Grand Bahama Shipyard transformation project, which invests significantly in local businesses, creates jobs, and contributes to a legacy of economic vitality in the country.”

“For more than 50 years, we have partnered with The Bahamas to deliver exceptional vacations to millions of guests and create opportunities for local Bahamian communities,” said Jason Liberty, president, and CEO, of Royal Caribbean Group.

“We are proud to expand our longstanding partnership and see establishing Grand Bahama as a premier maritime destination for repair and revitalization of all kinds of vessels, as a project that will drive economic growth for the Bahamian industry and create a positive impact for the people of The Bahamas for generations to come.” 

Sarah St. George, acting chairman of Grand Bahama Port Authority, added: “We join our partners in celebrating this historic achievement and congratulate Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Group for their commitment to Grand Bahama and Grand Bahama Shipyard. We also thank the Government for their close collaboration on this transformational project. For the past four years, re-establishing Grand Bahama Shipyard as a premier global ship repair facility has been the single-minded focus of all parties. We’re tremendously excited for this huge expansion.” 

The two new floating drydocks are under construction at CSSC Qingdao Beihai Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. in Qingdao, China, with expected delivery in 2025 and 2026. Once completed, they will be among the largest floating docks in the Western Hemisphere – including a mega dock that will have the largest lifting capacity in the world – capable of servicing all existing and currently planned cruise ships worldwide, as well as a broad range of other vessels. 

In addition to new floating dry docks, the project includes supporting marine works and infrastructure construction in Grand Bahama, which is set to begin in the last quarter of 2023 and be completed in 2025.

Additionally, the shipyard is expanding its apprenticeship program, with a goal to have 16-20 new apprentices per year. Designed to develop needed technical skills for the shipyard, the program will also expand access to well-paying, long-term career opportunities at the shipyard and other industrial employers. The four-year apprentice program will be further enhanced through partnerships with technical colleges. Similar programs in the past proved successful in helping to develop and train Bahamians for the marine trade workforce. 

Conceived in response to the cruise industry’s need for a shipyard in proximity to its Florida and Caribbean operations hub, the Grand Bahama Shipyard was established in the year 2000. The expansion of Grand Bahama Shipyard not only fulfills the cruise lines’ requirement for a nearby facility but also enhances the range of services offered.

This expansion will reportedly include needed support for the refurbishment and modernization projects undertaken by some cruise lines on the accommodation side of their ships, breathing new life into older vessels.