The shipyard of La Ciotat, container ships to luxury yachts

Luxury yachts under repair at the shipyard of La Ciotat, on December 21, 2017 (Photo ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT. AFP)

On December 19, 1987, the Monterrey was the last ship to leave the slipways of the shipyard of La Ciotat, promised to be the case: 30 years after, the door-containers have been replaced by luxury yachts and the city to life with high pleasure.

Casting by asian competition, the Normed (Company sites in the North and the Mediterranean) was exhausted. The gantry cranes of lifting, overlooking the port were destined for scrap and the promoters were influenced on the 36 hectares of land deserted, dreaming of a tourist complex and marina.

By the end of 2017, the shipyard is still there, thanks to “105” of the CGT, who occupied the site until 1994. But the 3,500 employees of 1987 are more than 700, in 36 companies met on the field, managed by The la Ciotat Shipyards, a new name for the mixed economy company responsible for relaunching the site.

And workers and engineers to build more tankers, lpg tankers or container ships : they are busy, by white gloves, or almost, around the floating palaces of billionaires.

“Here, are no longer being built or almost, it is due mostly to the maintenance or the +refit+, these refits and makeovers necessary when a yacht is being renovated,” explains Jean-Yves Saussol, executive director of The la Ciotat Shipyards, to the AFP. Result : a total turnover of € 120 million, with some 100 yachts of more than 50 m in the port at La Ciotat this year.

“Within five years, we aim a turnover of 200 million euro and 900 employees more”, hopes Mr. Saussol, stressing that the cost of annual maintenance of a yacht is 10% of the purchase price.

– Lift boat

The market is buoyant, with 5,500 yachts sailing in the world at the end of 2016, of which 700 of more than 50 m and 130 monsters of more than 80 m, as the Serene, the 134 million from saudi prince Mohammed Bin Salman, also passed by La Ciotat for a facelift.

With its lift to the boat of 2,000 tons, The Ciotat is imposed on the segment of super-yachts, 50-80 m, But the niche in the future, it is the mega-yachts over 80 m: “10 years ago, they were 10…”, underlines Jean-Yves Saussol.

The will of The Ciotat Shipyards to continue to invest, with a new elevator for boats, 4,000 tonnes this time, horizon 2020, to counter Barcelona (Spain) or Genoa (Italy).

In La Ciotat for the past 19 years, CompositeWorks is part of the private operators who will apply for this project, alongside public shareholders of La Ciotat, Shipyards, the department of Bouches du Rhone (50%), the Paca region (26%), the city of Marseille (20%) and the city of La Ciotat (4%): “Currently, we do not accept contracts on mega-yachts, the absence of the power put to dry”, explains to the AFP its director English, Ben Mennem.

– ‘Carnage’ –

First employer of The la Ciotat Shipyards, with 110 employees, CompositeWorks is one of the seven shipyards are present on the site, notably with Monaco Marine, another large sector, or Nautech, a small new marseille.

But La Ciotat is also a thirty subcontractors: electricians, coppersmiths, saddlers, etc., Among them, Yachtelec, an SME led by Rémi Collace, grandson of a former worker of the building: “he managed the parts for oil or tankers, for us, it is the lighting and the automation of super-yachts…”

Next to subcontractors, the construction sites ciotadens aim is also bigger, with a village business of 12.000 m2 and from 2019 on 15 hectares of unused land still available.

“The goal is to be the N. 1 in the world irretrievable here five years ago,” argues Mr. Saussol: “provided that the State does not fang-in-leg,” he says, aiming for a decree on the social security of seafarers in the application since July, who did flee, according to her many clients. “It was carnage,” says Nicolas Bruni, ceo of Nautech: “Over the last four months, we had three boats, instead of a dozen in the past year”.

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