The 200mx60m dry dock has been in operation as a public tool within La Ciotat shipyard, but will now be used exclusively by Blohm+Voss with operation scheduled to start in November this year.

Key players operating within La Ciotat Semidep shipyard in southern France have expressed their concerns on the future operation of the dry dock by German superyacht specialist Blohm+Voss.

The 200mx60m dry dock had been in operation as a public tool within La Ciotat shipyard, but will now be used exclusively by B+V with operation scheduled to start in November this year.

Claire Robert, responsible for communications at Monaco Marine, told Superyacht Business that they are “surprised and disappointed” by the result of the tender. “We have a very good proposal for the operation of this dock and don’t really understand the decision to give the operation to the German shipyard. We have requested Semidep to provide us with further information on the B+V proposal and we expect to receive this next week.”

Compositeworks has also expressed its concerns on the future operation of the facility. The refit specialist has been onsite since 1998 and has used the dry dock for the most part of the last decade.

The company claims that giving the exclusive operation of the dry dock to B+V hinders its business and has announced it may have to layoff staff and put its investment in La Ciotat to a halt.

A Compositeworks spokesperson told Superyacht Business: “Compositeworks has been a driving force behind La Ciotat’s success and the only shipyard there to attract yachts above 100m into the dry dock since the Normed conversion in the 1990s. We have a proven track record and experience of working with the best subcontractors the industry has to offer.

“We were surprised that our ambitious plans, for which we had secured significant financing for further developing the shipyard, were not accepted by the authorities and we are now actively seeking investment opportunities elsewhere.”

Commenting on how the B+V operation impacts their business and the synergies within La Ciotat, the spokesperson says: “Compositeworks has had a record season with our yearly turnover increasing by over 20% to €45m, and this despite not having use of the dry dock. 75% of our works are subcontracted to local companies, most of whom have travelled the long and winding journey with us to where we are now.

“We are very much a family and feel confident that we will all continue to work together as we have done in the past. We are currently dealing with an unprecedented level of enquiries for increasingly complex refits and we will continue to offer the same high level of service our clients have come to expect over the years.

Compositeworks is currently working on three major refits on vessels up to 130m, including structural extensions, full interior replacements and obviously full paint works.

“These are not usually projects that we would be expecting to perform in the summer so we are definitely seeing an increase in demand,” the spokesperson concludes.

Commenting on its successful bid, Marei Winter, ‎director of marketing and communications at Blohm+Voss GmbH, told SB: “Setting up a facility in La Ciotat is an important step as part of our growth strategy. We want to move closer to our customers – La Ciotat provides the perfect opportunity.

“We definitely want to partner with the companies who are already at the shipyard and leverage on the synergies to support Semidep in developing the yard as a strong player in the international superyacht refit world. ‎

“Our strong desire to partner with companies from La Ciotat and surroundings was one of the reasons why Semidep selected us. The services we bring to the yard will complement the services already available, as we will mainly focus on superyachts with 80m-plus in length.”

Winter confirmed to SB that Star Capital Partners, the UK equity firm that acquired the shipyard in 2011, “strongly supports our efforts in La Ciotat.”