Europe’s leading shipbuilders have announced plans to resume operations after more than two months of disruptions. During the peak of the coronavirus, shipbuilders in Italy, France, Spain, and Germany were forced to suspend operations.
After some months of reduced or no activity in Chantiers de l'Atlantique, France the shipyard has announced that all production activities and other functions such as the design office have begun operating on May 11, although some people may continue to work from home.
Another French large company, Naval Group has introduced series of measures to protect the health and safety of its employees and partners. This includes work in separate teams, the redesign of workspaces to respect a distance between people, and the wearing of masks for operations in confined spaces. The ramp-up of activity will be gradual and will respect the recommendations of the authorities in the framework of national solidarity.
Italy shipbuilder Fincantieri has reopened its facilities since April 22. The firm was shut down on March 16 after talks with unions as the virus swept through Italy. The work in Fincantieri is expected to continue in full by the end of May or the beginning of June.
In the meantime, safety precautions will be taken, including staggered entrances to the yards for staff, obligatory masks and gloves at work, temperature checks at entrances to spot fever sufferers and in-house medical staff. Each staff member will be given a packet of 20 masks per week so they can change them multiple times during each day.
Damen Shipyards (Neatherlands, Poland, Romania, Norway, Sweden and France) has responded to coronavirus in a number of ways and has remained open for business. The measures the company has taken include requesting personnel to work from home, wherever possible. Where this is not possible, for example, in the case of production staff, they are arranging shifts and taking other steps to reduce contact to a minimum. Company is also arranging repatriation of our personnel currently working outside their home countries.
Various measures are taken in Meyer (Germany, Finland) shipyards in order to slow down the spread of the coronavirus on the shipyard sites including obligation to wear mouth and nose masks in certain areas, updating daily contact list, query before entering the shipyard, avoiding gatherings of people, keeping distance, etc.
Shipbuilding company MV Werften, with operations in Wismar, Rostock, and Stralsund, Germany, suspended operations in late March and is now targeted early May to resume operations if supply chains are again functioning.
In Spain, Navantia has started some activities at some yards while cleaning efforts are underway at other facilities. Company reduced its activities at the shipyards to the minimum that can be done with enough safety measures, it was not a complete stop but the activity is very limited and very controlled.
While the return to work is a positive development, shipyards are facing high levels of uncertainty. With the cruise lines facing significant financial challenges and commercial shippers dealing with greatly reduced levels of activity, new construction orders have largely ceased. There is also speculation that the cruise lines will seek to delay, cancel or possibly sell some of their current orders creating additional challenges for the shipbuilding industry as it seeks to recover from the disruptions caused by the spread of COVID-19.
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