SABBEX speaks to state arms procurement agency about boat repair opportunities

SABBEX:  The SA government is prioritising the blue economy under Operation Phakisa as a big potential job creation area. Creating ship/boat repair opportunities at the dockyard could help government with its mandate. Is this part of the reason why this work is now being undertaken? Or is it about better utilising existing infrastructure?

ARMSCOR:  The main mandate of Armscor Dockyard is to support the South African Navy (SAN), which links and prioritises the availability of facilities to the requirements of the SAN. The operation of the SAN is crucial to ensure the control and safety of South Africa’s oceans. While prioritising the requirements of the SAN, Dockyard also does identify commercialisation opportunities as and when they become available. This includes the dry docking of the SA Agulhus in the past. Armscor Dockyard shares the same vision as the government in seeking to create economic opportunities through the expansion and commercialisation of services to a more diverse client base. To achieve this vision, facilities are being better utilised and several upgrades are currently in progress.

SABBEX:  Is this good news for the ship repair /maintenance sector in terms of facility availability & skills training? Would it help dockyard staff re skills training?

ARMSCOR: The prioritisation of the blue economy is great news for Armscor Dockyard as it guarantees that more boats are utilised for tourism and fishing, resulting in more boats requiring services from the Dockyard. Armscor Dockyard has a deep water port, covered repair sheds, a graving dock and a synchro lift; all of which can provide the access needed for the maintenance and repair of marine equipment.

The organisation is ISO9001 certified and has operated under the management of Armscor since 2007, which makes the technical staff experts within their trades. The Dockyard comes with numerous workshops geared to support any vessel where maintenance and repair solutions are required for systems such as the hull structure, propulsion plant, electric plant, electronic, weapons and mechanical auxiliary systems. In addition, the Dockyard provides fabrication solutions including welding, soldering, surface preparation and treatment, machining and casting. All of these are supported by a testing laboratory that conducts corrosion surveys, non-destructive testing, condition-based testing, and metallurgy.

Dockyard has few limitations in terms of skills; however, it continues to invest in up-skilling employees within the organisation to be able to compete with the industry and to furnish clients with the best service.

SABBEX:  I believe there is also talk of utilising some of the workshop space for skills training /commercial businesses — because there is a lot of under-utilised space. Could there be these types of opportunities?

ARMSCOR: Armscor Dockyard shares the premises with the SAN, which uses some of the previously under-utilised spaces. The Dockyard fully supports Operation Phakisa and has the appetite to commercialise the space as this will not only create job opportunities but assist local partners within the industry to grow. However, it would be prudent to mention that any opportunity that is considered for commercialisation, should not impact on the ability of the Dockyard to support the SAN. In addition, it is worth noting that the Armscor Dockyard has a training centre that is currently in the process of rejuvenation and offers training on trades that are specific to the marine maintenance environment.

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