As a worldwide player in the maritime and offshore industry, PALFINGER MARINE naturally sees the huge North American market as one of its priorities. On the East Coast, in the Sunshine State of Florida, we coordinate dry docks for the refurbishment of lifesaving appliances (LSA). In this edition of our PALFINGER MARINE Around the Globe series, we would like to provide more in-depth insight into what a dry dock season entails for us. We sat down with Leigh Ann Lozano, Service Coordinator at PALFINGER MARINE in Florida with a company track record of more than a decade, to discuss the ins and outs of this exciting field within our industry.

“Dry dock season comes twice a year, in spring and fall. This is when cruise companies use periods of lower passenger volume to check and maintain the equipment on their ships. Typically, these seasons run from January 10 to May 10 and from September 15 to December 15 respectively,” Leigh Ann explains. “The service involved in a dry dock mandate can range from a simple annual checkup or complete five-year inspection to refinishing or supervising damage and structural repairs,” she adds. What sounds fairly straightforward on paper, is, however, often a little more complicated.

Controlling the uncontrollable

Maintaining an entire cruise ship’s equipment requires a team effort and outstanding coordination between all departments involved. For North America, this process is primarily organized from PALFINGER MARINE’s Florida office. The job doesn’t get any easier when a dry dock season is unusually short due to project overlaps – as happened this spring. The equipment of seven cruise ships – divided between North America, the Caribbean, Europe, and Southeast Asia – had to be serviced.

All in all, PALFINGER MARINE technicians refurbished 135 units last spring, including lifeboats, rescue boats, tender boats, life rafts, davits, and winches. Leigh Ann explains: “One of the few downsides is that we have no control over the dry dock season, as the timing depends on the individual schedules of the cruise lines. In fact, our fall dry dock season has been equally challenging.”

Creative thinking for overlapping projects

PALFINGER MARINE loves challenges and, accordingly, masters such Herculean efforts with aplomb. “Each dry dock mandate is different, which is both a curse and a blessing,” smiles Leigh Ann.

Each ship is a little different, meaning that each project is different.

Leigh Ann Lozano, Service Coordinator at PALFINGER MARINE

It therefore comes as no surprise that our team in Florida is used to thinking outside the box. Given that technicians have less than 21 days to conduct and complete the required service scope of cruise ship equipment until the vessel sets sail again, creative solutions are required. In one case, a team worked on the interior of lifeboats while the cruise vessel sailed from Miami in Florida to Cadiz in Spain.

Challenging fall dry dock season 2023

In spring 2023, the dry dock season was unusually short — the equipment on seven cruise ships had to be serviced in just 61 days without compromising on quality. This required PALFINGER MARINE’s well-coordinated, global team effort, which ultimately resulted in a record-breaking dry dock season for the company.

As soon as the hectic spring dry dock season came to a close, the PALFINGER MARINE team in Florida started turning its attention to the fall equivalent, which comes to a close on 15 December.

Leigh Ann expands: “Our fall drydock season typically involves one project every two weeks, but not so this year. During two weeks in October, we had simultaneous drydock projects in Freeport (Bahamas), Marseilles (France), Hamburg (Germany), and Balboa (Panama), which required unique coordination efforts. We literally drew from our staff resources across the globe, proving that anything is possible with proper planning and cooperation.”

Looking forward to spring 2024

With the spring season already looming, Leigh Ann adds: “We basically always work six months in advance.” As mentioned earlier, the service technicians are likely heading into another spring season of challenging overlaps. One thing, however, is certain: our team will be ready to tackle it together with skill and dedication. “In Florida, we typically handle 12 dry dock mandates per year, involving between 18 and 24 workstations. This number can double if we service davits and winches, as well as boats, as they involve completely different work scopes,” Leigh Ann states. In short: there’s always something to do.

PALFINGER MARINE is a strong brand with an equally strong presence in North America. As our network moves closer together as part of our renewed focus on complete solutions, we are confident that we can continue to grow in line with the market. As the market matures, we mature with it. Remember, together we can #reachanything. Join us on this journey.

Curious for more? Check out our previous Around-the-Globe-edition about North America!

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