Monday, August 1, 2011


Subic's reberthed dry dock is bringing repair orders in
Floating drydock revives Subic ship repair industry‏
dec 2007

Almost a decade and a half ago, Filipino workers watched in gloomy silence while she was towed away to her new home at a US military base in Guam.

Now, the Auxiliary Floating Drydock Medium 5 (AFDM-5) — operated mostly by its former technicians during US Navy days is reviving the ship repair industry here-- helping Subic re-establish its status as a maritime center.

The AFDM-5 is now the main feature at Subic’s Bravo Pier, where the newly formed Subic Drydock Corporation (Subicdock) has established in the last six months a base for the operation of a ship repair facility.

Former US Navy officer Gerald “Gerry” James Hammond, who now serves as Subicdock general manager, said that since the AFDM-5 was brought back to Subic last June, it has already serviced 18 clients.

“We have already serviced many ships, including our own vessels — tugboats and barges,” said Hammond, who got his first assignment in the US Navy as dock personnel in 1976 and remained on board for 13 years.

“Now we got the super ferry Westpac Express out from Guam. We got a lot of float repairs, but (the Westpac Express) was really the first US float we got since we opened up,” he said, referring to the high-speed super ferry used by the US Military Sealift Command (MSC), which is undergoing repair here.

Now, the “exceptional performance” of the AFDM-equipped 18,000-ton capacity Subicdock is spreading all over the shipping community, said James Edge, director of the Asian Navigation Ltd., which is a customer of Subicdock.

“The shipyard has been working the whole hours to ensure that the deadlines are met, and the jobs have been delivered on time. So, instead of going somewhere else, vessels now go to Subic for repairs,” said Edge.

Subicdock president Catalino Bondoc, who, Malayan Towage and Salvage Corp. (MTSC) chief executive officer, brought the AFDM-5 to Subic last June, said the floating drydock is proving to be a precious piece of floating structural machinery despite the passing years.

Brought to Guam in 1992 when the US naval base in Subic Bay closed, the AFDM-5 was used for the repair of small- and medium-sized vessels of the US Marine’s Military Sealift Command, as well as commercial ships.

Thereafter, it was sold to Cabras Marine Corporation, a private company rendering ship repair services in Guam and Micronesia.

In 1999, the AFDM-5 was awarded to Bondoc’s Malayan Towage, the largest towage and salvage company in the Philippines, reportedly in the amount of P165 million.

It was then brought to Manila and equipped with additional equipment, including a 100-ton capacity floating crane.

In June 2007, to the delight of the more than 50 former Subic drydock workers, AFDM-5 arrived at Bravo Pier to regain its title as the star of Subic’s maritime industry.

Bondoc revealed that after the AFDM-5 was installed at Subic, Japanese and Indonesian businessmen have approached him on several occasions to express their interest to buy the drydock for US million, but he turned down the offers.

“We know that ship repair is a viable operation here in Subic, and there are lots of services we can do for the shipping industry in this area. That is a lot better than what we can do with the million dollars,” Bondoc said.

Today, Bondoc said the Subic drydock is now competing with US ship repair facilities, like that of Guam which has a bigger drydock.

“We started with the Bravo Pier which was already in a deteriorating condition. But now, it is superbly capable of doing everything, as we have already restored every part of the area, including the catwalk,” he said.

Bondoc added that because the company is located in a free port zone, they could bring in machineries and materials tax free.

“So we have that edge. It’s very cost effective for us and the customers, so we really in for a long term here,” he said. “It took us a lot of money to bring the drydock in here, but we are happy because it is now clear in our mind what we are planning to do with this facility,” he added.

Bondoc also said that while the company is gearing to provide ship repair services, it is also considering a long term plan for boat assembly with European businessmen who design and build all types of watercraft.

“Depending on our capabilities here, we could have a technical tie-up wherein they could bring parts for, say, a tugboat and we will assemble them. Our prospective partners could also use Subic as a base to sell or export tugboats,” he said.

As a free port, Subic would provide advantage for the planned joint venture, Bondoc said, because of the business incentives and the skilled labor, which is also cheaper compared to those in neighboring countries. (PNA)

No comments: