A look at Aker Yards in France"We are now up to cruising speed," said Jacques Hardelay, managing director at Aker Yards in St. Nazaire, France. He explained that the integration process since the French shipbuilder was acquired by the Aker Yards Group has been completed and that work is underway on various projects.

Among the integrated functions is sales and marketing between the yards in France and Finland, as well as sourcing and sharing of best practices, according to Hardelay.

"We are also working on common standards between the two yards," he added. "We are planning to implement standardized solutions for future contracts – whether ships are built in France or in Finland.

And while there are design and development teams in both countries, Hardelay said the objective is to build a joint team.

"Our goal is also to continue to reduce costs and provide value to the customers, whether in the form of better ship performance, better space management onboard, lower maintenance costs, or solutions for new, revenue generating passenger spaces," Hardelay added.

"There is no limitation on progress," he said. "We are changing the processes for how we work; we are doing more pre-outfitting; we are painting in one phase of the production only; and we are building in less time; all of which contribute to lower the cost to the customer."

Orderbook

Aker Yards’ orderbook in St. Nazaire includes four more ships for MSC:  the third Musica-class ship, the 90,000-ton, 2,550-passenger Poesia, in March 2008, followed by a new class of MSC ships, the 133,500-ton, 3,300-passenger Fantasia in spring 2008 and a sister ship, the Splendida, in 2009. Another 90,000-ton ship, the Magnifica, follows in 2010.  Aker delivered the Musica in 2007 and the Orchestra in 2007.

The orderbook also includes two ships plus an option for Norwegian Cruise Line. Code-named Project 3, the first of the 150,000-ton, 4,200-passenger ships is scheduled for delivery in 2009 and the second ship in 2010. An option is slated for 2011.

"We are fully booked through 2010," Hardelay noted.

In addition to newbuildings, the French Aker is also involved in revitalizations, and has recently installed diesel engines on two Celebrity ships

"We are focusing on cruise ships and ferries," said Hardelay. "We can build ships up to the Genesis class in France."

Excerpt from Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Summer 2007