Mission Unsinkable | Henry Empeno

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – A company providing ship repair services in this freeport keeps ships and other maritime assets of the nation’s naval fleet safe and operational and, at the same time, puts Subic Bay on the map as a center of global shipping services.

Subic Drydock Corp. (SDC), which markets itself as a full-service shipyard, has become one of the main maintenance providers for the Philippine Navy, performing emergency repairs, extended voyage maintenance and dry-docking for the flotilla for more than 10 years now.

Philippine Navy YD-204 leaves the belly of Subic Drydock Corp’s FD-2. on July 23 after completing an 11-month major overhaul.

Since drydocking a ro-ro ferry in 2005, the company had so far accepted some 65 repair and drydocking contracts for the Philippine Navy; 116 contracts with the Military Sealift Command (MSC) of the United States Navy (USN); 28 dry-docking and repair works for the maritime service provider Cabras and Seabridge; 179 jobs for Malayan Towage and Salvage Corp.; as well as 142 repair and drydocking works for various commercial vessels.

It has also expanded its customer base over the years to include big budget companies like Maersk, FOSS Maritime, Austal and HMS Global Maritime, while maintaining business links with local companies like Negros Navigation, Petrolift and Magsaysay Shipping.

Subic’s Pride

WITH its mission to keep ships afloat and seaworthy, Subic’s drydocking company has become one of the few local businesses that make Subic a truly global player in the marine services industry.

Workers cut corroded steel on the deck of the Philippine Navy’s YD-204 as the floating drydock undergoes a major overhaul in this photo taken August 24, 2021. Subic Drydock Corp. workers. undertake high-pressure washing of the hull of the Philippine Navy’s YD-. 204 before sandblasting in this photo taken on August 24, 2021.

Diana Ross Mazo, Human Resources and Corporate Administration Manager, said SDC is pleased to work with the Philippine Navy to support the fleet repair, maintenance and modernization program, while being the main maintenance provider for MSC and USN ships.

“It is a source of pride for SDC to be able to provide exceptional service not only to local customers, but to customers around the world,” she added.

The company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Guam-based marine service provider Cabras Marine, operates a floating dock with a 4,400 ton lifting capacity, as well as a floating crane with a 60 ton lifting capacity at its approach wharf near Rivera de Subic wharf.

Mazo said its primary site for repair work includes two piers: a 140-meter pier and a 60-meter pier connected to 480-volt shore power, potable water, shore steam and a fire line. Meanwhile, its laydown area includes valve/pump shop, hydraulic test facility, steel fabrication area, pipe shop, blast cabinet, as well as machinery and equipment shops. electricity.

Assisted by tugs, the Philippine Navy’s fully refurbished floating drydock (YD-204) leaves Subic Bay Freeport after 11 months of repairs.

Using these facilities, SDC can perform major vessel overhauls which typically take 14-30 days for dry-docking, 21 days for emergency voyage repairs and 30-45 days for “afloat repairs”. which may involve the repair or reconditioning of the vessel. hull or overhaul of machinery and equipment.

Last employment in the Navy

The company’s last major contract with the Philippine Navy was for the total repair and refurbishment of the floating drydock AFDL-20, a World War II relic built by the United States Navy and transferred to the Philippines in 1961.

Mazo said the AFDL-20, now YD-204, was towed from the Philippine Navy shipyard in Cavite on August 12 last year and underwent a complex multi-stage overhaul over 11 months. The work was carried out by SDC’s highly skilled in-house workforce and partner local subcontractors.

“Once the vessel was docked, we did a power wash and then an inspection before surface preparation, sandblasting and painting,” Mazo said. “Then we moved to areas ready for steel work, welding and cutting, and then upgrading machinery and equipment maintenance.”

Mazo said some 240 metric tons of steel renewal was also implemented for the Navy’s floating drydock during the Subic overhaul.

Under repair: BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16) and BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15) dock side by side at the Subic Drydock Corp jetty. USNS Henson, a US Navy Pathfinder oceanographic survey vessel, undergoes voyage repair at the Subic Drydock Corp approach pier.

On July 23, YD-204 was fully repaired and finally emerged from the belly of SDC’s largest FD-2 drydock for the first time after almost a year there. She was then towed from Subic and arrived safely at the Port of San Felipe shipyard in Cavite City on 24 July.

“When the vessel was returned to the Philippine Navy, it was a rejuvenated, like-new asset that will be ready to support the fleet,” Mazo said.

Warship modernization works

SDC is also currently working on BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15), which is the first offshore patrol vessel of the Philippine Navy.

“As the preferred maintenance provider for the Philippine Navy’s afloat repair and modernization work, the SDC routinely maintains the PS-15, PS-16 (BRP Ramon Alcaraz), PS-17 (BRP Andres Bonifacio) and other Navy assets,” Mazo said.

Gregorio del Pilar

She said the BRP Gregorio del Pilar will have a Sea Giraffe radar system upgrade, as well as ongoing maintenance repairs. The 120-day work is expected to be completed on August 8.

The first installation work of this type was carried out for BRP Ramon Alcaraz in December 2021, Mazo added.

Mazo said the SDC has been the primary maintenance provider to the Philippine Navy for over 10 years now. “And we are honored to continue supporting their current and future maintenance needs to enhance the overall readiness of the Philippine Navy fleet.”

SDC first took on the Philippine Navy as a client in January 2009. Previous repair work included the BRP research vessel Gregorio Velazquezwhich has undergone maintenance, and the country’s newest guided missile frigates BRP Jose Rizal and BRP Antonio Lunafor repair work afloat.

Global clientele

SUBIC Drydock’s customers are mainly military vessels, about 60-70% of the total.

The company holds a Master Ship Repair Agreement (MSRA) with the US Navy and Military Sealift Command, confirming the company’s compliance with rigorous industrial repair and quality assurance standards. SDC first landed a US Navy repair project in April 2008 and has since completed 116 such jobs.

Among the largest ships repaired by SDC was the USNS fleet replenishment tanker Rappahannockthe USS submarine tender Land of Emory S.and the amphibious command ship USS Blue Ridgewhich is the flagship of the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet.

Just recently, SDC completed the 60-day Mid-Term Availability (MTA) for the USNS millinockets from April 18 to June 17, 2022 and USNS Porto Rico from February 18 to April 17, 2022. Both are expeditionary fast transports operated by the US Navy’s Military Sealift Command.

Mazo said the maintenance work for the two vessels consisted of complex integrated repairs such as aluminum welding repairs, machinery and equipment maintenance, marine evacuation system certification and fire and safety certification. .

Additionally, SDC has just completed a Voyage Repair Availability (VRA) on the USNS Bowditchthe US Navy’s lead ship for oceanographic surveys, from May 23 to June 20, 2022, and also worked on back-to-back VRAs on the USNS Henson and the USNS Mary Sear from June 27 to July 25, 2022. All three vessels are Pathfinder-class hydrographic vessels.

Voyage repairs are defined as emergency work required for damage to a vessel that would allow it to continue its mission without requiring a change to its operating schedule.

Meanwhile, commercial vessels repaired by SDC included freighters and container ships from local and international shipping companies; motor barges and tugs operated by Malayan Towage and Salvage Corp. and Cabras and Seabridge; as well as pleasure boats of private owners.

Mazo said the company plans to continue providing services – and generating much-needed local jobs – even during the Covid-19 pandemic, with skilled workers coming mainly from the city of Olongapo and neighboring Bataan provinces. and Zambales.

“Our current projection for 2022, based on future bookings, is approximately 1,500 jobs, and this growth would also provide opportunities for related Freeport businesses, as well as domestic and overseas ship catering service providers,” said also said Mazo.

Picture credits: Henry Empeno, Subic Drydock Corp., Henry Empeno

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