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This long-term view also extends to contractors, who are considered valuable members of the team (Ed: although the relation- ship between the union and yard management is currently fraught – see box). “You are basically building a small town, all


fitted onto the ship. This is a huge deal and we work closely with our customers to help them achieve their vision,” Hackmann says, adding that there is daily interaction with client representatives who are hosted at a site office. “Around 1,700 people work here on each project, ranging from engineers and contrac- tors to crew and classification societies.” Over the years, people’s expectations of entertainment on board cruise ships have risen, meaning that mere ballrooms or theatres no longer suffice. Accordingly, Meyer Werft has built a reputation for bespoke entertain- ment areas such as climbing walls or simulated parachute jumps. This can be intricate work because safety bodies such as class societies and the US Food and Drug Administration (in cases where there are kitchen or food-themed experiences) must approve each section of the build before it can proceed. Stating that the work on the Norwegian

Escape proceeded smoothly, the Meyer Werft spokesperson says the yard is seeking to expand on its stable of clients. “In September we secured a contract for a newbuild for UK company Saga Cruises,” he says, adding that work will shortly be under way on the 55,000gt ship. This will see the yard deliver three cruise ships in 2019, one more than its average output of two ships per year.

Investing in the future

The newest project means re-activation for Dock 1, which has not been used for newbuilding purposes since the delivery of Sonne, as preference was given to the use of the more modern Dock 2, which, when built in 2002, was the biggest investment in the yard’s history and significantly improved its resources. A particularly important feature of the

newer dock was a significantly longer and larger hall to house all the interior decorations for the vessels. “We are in northern Germany and cannot rely on dry weather. This means we need to ensure weather independent production,” says Hackmann, stating that there are many high-value items such as

Facilities data: Docks fitted for block construction Dock I Dock II

s Length (hall): s Width (hall): s Height (hall):

370m 102m 60m

s Length (dock): 358m s Width (dock):

40m s Crane capacity: 600t

504m 125m 75m

482m 45m 800t

bespoke furniture, paintings etc, that need to be housed for months before they can be taken on board. The second dock also spurred a £57 million

revamp of the steel manufacturing section, which was upgraded to include a cutting-edge laser facility. This is said to be the largest facility of its kind in Europe, featuring six units of 12kW each that can be used for cutting and welding steel. The revamp was in line with the company’s strategy to keep pace with international competitors – particularly Fincantieri, which also commands a large share of the lucrative cruise sector.

Assembling the blocks

Hackmann states that there is an art form to assembling an entire cruise ship from different sections, likening it to playing with Lego, but on a much grander scale. “After steel plates are painted with anticorrosive coatings, and cut to the right size, beams and side walls are added and fitted with electricity and wires and turned into sections,” he says. “About eight to 10 of these sections represent one block. At the end, all the blocks are welded together and the ship’s corpus develops, just as you would assemble a Lego model, only in a larger context. One ship is built using around 70 blocks, weighing up to 800t.” It is vital that all the parts are properly fused together and


When building a second dock in 2002, Meyer Werft invested £57 million for a laser facility where steel is cut and welded

fitted to meet class standards for safety. This is especially important as the large number of passengers on board cruise ships mean that there is a high risk that reputation will be damaged if corners are cut on a build. Meyer Werft uses sophisticated design software to ensure that the highest standards of perfection are achieved.

Technology centre

Meyer Werft is taking concrete steps to safeguard its position against future competi- tion: an important move given the growing threat from Asia as a shipbuilding hub – with Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) recently securing an order from Aida Cruises to build two new vessels. (Ed: MHI has seen delays with the build of the first ship, the AIDAPrima, which should now take to the seas

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