Investment Source: Google Images

A R98 million floating caisson will be constructed for the Sturrock Dry Dock in the Port of Cape Town as part of a multimillion rand overhaul of the port’s ship repair facilities over a three year period, the Western Cape province’s investment agency Wesgro said on Friday.

The project falls under South Africa’s Operation Phakisa programme which has identified ship building and repairs as a strategic industry.

The caisson – a large steel gate structure that acts as a secondary seal and subdivides the dock, allowing for simultaneous docking of multiple commercial  vessels – is expected to double the productivity of Sturrock, one of the biggest dry docks in the southern hemisphere.

“The introduction of a caisson that can now allow for multiple docking of commercial vessels allows for Sturrock Dry Dock to significantly increase ship repairing capacity, which will facilitate job creation,” Wesgro CEO Tim Harris said.

South Africa ranks among the world’s top 15 shipping nations, based on the tonnage transported to and from its ports, with three of the eight major commercial ports based in the Western Cape.

The province is the production hub of the South African ship building industry and is home to its largest  luxury yacht builders, Robertson and Caine and Southern Wind.

An estimated 68 percent of commercial boat yards are located in the Western Cape.

The sector employs 4,000 people and contributed R1.5 billion to the provincial economy in 2017. Some 95 percent of products manufactured by the sector are exported and Cape Town has been identified as the second biggest exporter of catamarans.