The (Bridgetown) Shallow Draught has been earmarked for an upgrade by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Blue Economy, Senator Lisa Cummins has said.
Senator Cummins, who also chairs the board of the Barbados Port Inc., made the announcement during the Appropriation Bill’s hearings in the House of Assembly on Wednesday night.
Senator Cummins revealed: “Two Fridays ago [we] closed the first expression of interest for the expansion of the Shallow Draught.
“[Our] mariner and our tenders and procurement committee meeting will take place within the next two weeks or so where we will be receiving and reviewing the expressions of interest for a new design and new build format for the shallow draught facility in Bridgetown.”
The senator explained the rationale behind ensuring that large yachts and vessels can be maintained and serviced in Barbados was the ministry’s intention “to build out a new sector”.
She said: “We have made the policy decision to separate cruise from cargo but we have also disaggregated what cruise means for different demographic groups.
“Within the cruise sector and within that group we have found a high level of demand for yachting services, and not just yachting for the purpose of pleasure craft moving but also the maintenance and dry docking of those boats for the persons who are the mariners.”
In order to create the new sector, the Port chairman also revealed plans to establish a new cruise berth at Speightstown as well.
Senator Cummins told Lower House lawmakers: “The Speightstown facility… is also meant to be a multi-purpose facility.
“So we are talking about cruise ships with a capacity of no more than 1,500 passengers or so being accommodated in that facility. We are also talking about mega yachts.
She continued: “We are looking at expansion in those two locations and then of course providing a new industry out of that new sector that would come out for maintenance, servicing, repairs and dry docking of those boats for Barbadians who are looking to get into a new sector.
“We have two marinas currently at Port St Charles and Port Ferdinand and in those two facilities super yachts are too large to be accommodated there and you will see from time to time they will make their way into the Bridgetown Port.”
Currently, the only place that can accommodate mega vessels is the Shallow Draught, she reminded fellow parliamentarians.
Senator Cummins said: “Over the last few weeks we had issues with the North swells they were some vessels that had no alternative but to be accommodated in the Bridgetown Port.
“The issue is capacity. So on a five-ship day they were using all of the available births for cruise ships and we are servicing cargo that becomes a real challenge in terms of capacity.
“But we don’t want to see it as a capacity challenge we want to see it as a new industry opportunity because the demand is there.”