Kraljevica is ship shape
Located in a natural bay in Primorsko- Goranska County, 25 kilometres south of Rijeka, the biggest harbour in Croatia, the Kraljevica shipyard is strategically placed to deliver services to the shipbuilding industry on a global scale.
Formed in 1729, Kraljevica has been uninterruptedly active for nearly 300 years, and was initially developed under direction by the Austrian Empire. Since this time, the shipyard has consistently followed the course of modernisation, making the necessary mechanical and technical developments as processes have developed. Primarily working on naval contracts, the shipyard has also built and repaired a range of vessels such as cargo ships, ferries, asphalt carriers, smallspecialised vessels and yachts.
Kraljevica’s sales director Sinisa Ostojic, naval architect, who has many years of personal experience within sales, comments on the direction of the shipyard over recent years: “Over the last 15 years, Kraljevica has mainly concentrated on merchant shipbuilding, because of a lack of naval projects created by the Croatian government. Recently, the government has not been able to offer as much naval work as it has done in the past, but we are always ready should this situation develop again. Our core capabilities will focus on working with naval and merchant vessels, so we are ready to undertake any project that is required.
“To supplement these contracts, we also undertake special vessel projects, such as asphalt carriers and passenger ferries for international clients,” Sinisa continues. “We have recently signed a contract for passenger/vehicles/container vessel for international customers, and this contract together with some other recently signed contracts have created a strong platform for future. The shipyard has many orders for work on merchant vessels, and these are to be completed in the near future. As the amount of work emanating from the Croatian government is on a downturn, we have taken on requests from other foreign clients for long-term co-operative naval vessel contracts, and we hope to confirm some projects very soon. This means we will be working at full capacity at our site to achieve the demands of these naval contracts, alongside the merchant shipbuilding work.”
The scope of Kraljevica’s activities incorporates contracts with companies located all over the world, as Sinisa is keen to point out: “Kraljevica is mainly concentrating now on working with overseas clients, and we are building passenger ferries for a company located in the UK and asphalt tankers for Italian clients. We are also undertaking projects to create passenger/cargo ship for a company located in Canada.”
The success of the shipyard’s work with global clients can be attributed to the range of services provided at Kraljevica, including full repair and retrofitting capabilities. Sinisa explains how the site is equipped to manage these processes: “At our shipyard, we have two floating docks for our ship repairing activities; the smaller dock allows work on vessels up to 70 metres in length and 11 metres in width, so is most applicable for projects involving small yachts, catamarans, fishing vessels, tugs, and patrol vessels used by the navy. The large dock is capable of dealing with vessels of 25,000 tons deadweight, up to 155 metres in length and 22 metres in width. In addition to these floating docks, we also have full service workshops for ship repairing and building. We are also licensed to service vessel engines (MTU, Volvo, Tohatsu), and we have several special contracts that we work on from time to time. The shipyard is fully equipped to provide ship repair work, and we have both international and domestic clients, depending on the scale of the project.”
To maintain the hard-working ethos that underpins the workforce, the shipyard has invested heavily into improving the technology and machinery used on the site. Sinisa elaborates on these developments: “Kraljevica last made a significant investment into the machinery it has at the shipyard around ten years ago, when we bought the new vehicle carrier, capable of lifting loads of up to 100 tons. We have also increased our automated facilities, installing new cutting machinery – most notably, a plasma-cutting machine (both wet and dry). In addition, the shipyard introduced some new cranes in this period, to be used in haulage operations weighing up to five tons. Equally, we always invest in smaller pieces of equipment to be used by welders and other shipyard engineers. In total, we have invested nearly $4 million in new technology for our shipyard over the last few years.
“Kraljevica has plans to invest further money to meet the demands placed on our wide range of capabilities, especially transportation and logistics in and around the site,” Sinisa states. “All of the major transportation routes to, and within the shipyard must be evaluated, and areas that need investment highlighted. Also, we must develop some new halls, particularly to be used in painting and small panelling work. We are also capable o deconstructing the slip face of vessels, using cranes that can move up to 120 tons. We are always making small improvements on the technology that we use at the site, and we are planning investment up to the level of nearly 30 million euros in the near future.”
Croatia has a recognised pedigree in regards to international shipbuilding capabilities, and Kraljevica is one of the jewels in the nation’s crown. Sinisa describes the history behind this factor: “Around 20 years ago, as part of the former Yugoslavia, Croatian shipbuilding industry were third place after South Korea and Japan in terms of global shipyard activity and prowess. Nowadays, we are placed around fifth or sixth in the world depending on the activities over the last month or year. In Europe, we are always within the top five shipbuilding nations, and this is particularly applicable to Kraljevica’s competence.”
Shipbuilding is one of Croatia’s leading industries, and this is a factor that is contributing to the country’s entrance into the European Union. As Sinisa outlines: “Croatia is now in the process of completing shipbuilding’s restructuring programmes that will aid all of our future activities in line with standards set out by the European Commission, with the aim of ultimately joining the EU. All of these factors are under review currently, and shall be presented to the Commission. Once everyone is in agreement, this will decide what will need to be done before we join the EU. This will also allow us the full access to the Community of European Shipyard Associations, now we are partly involved, so this is a positive development. It will mean hard work for everyone, but it is something we are looking forward to at Kraljevica, as well.
“This discussion with the European Commission is extremely important, not just for the future of the shipbuilding sector, but also for the whole Croatian economy,” Sinisa emphasises. “There are not many industries operating within Croatia that are as historically successful or important as the shipbuilding sector, so Kraljevica and other Croatian shipyards are the vital part of our nation’s future. Our aim is to improve our services, and become much more efficient, to ensure our position within the global shipbuilding market,” he concludes.