Shipyard Basics

I am a project manager for a new company. Our goal is to refit a vessel for an eventual voyage to the Equatorial Pacific. One of my jobs is to determine the cost of a refit from various shipyards.

As a former submariner, I have familiarity with the shipyard environment, but not necessarily cost determination.

I am curious if anyone would have advice on this? Thanks!

I think one of the first questions to ask is where are you looking to do the refit. That in itself can be a large variation in cost.

-Define refit - what’s the scope of work? Are you planning a re-flagging as part of this?

-Define existing vessel - state of current systems and equipment. Will new features or equip be required.

The question is sort of a “how long is a piece of string”

Have you written a SY specification yet? Any individual scopes of work?

A hopefully tight spec and some contract language is usually developed to be sent to yards.

Tree fiddy


If you’re PMing that project and you and no one on your team has that experience, you should consult with someone who does. Feel free to PM me, I do shipyard project management work. As someone else said it all comes down. To where you’re doing it and the scope of work, start there.

I have to agree, provide details of the vessel you want to “refit”. Lot of old farts here that can give you a quick idea of how much you will spend.

And the loch ness monster will do the labor!

Remember; there are always surprises popping up when repairing/converting ship/boats. The older the ship the more surprises.

  1. Do a detailed survey of the vessel. Get professional help if necessary.
  2. Prepare a detailed list of items to be repaired / conversions to be done. Include EVERYTHING that MAY be necessary.
  3. Go to 3 or more shortlisted shipyard and ask for offer. Ask for itemized price for each job on the list, not lump sum. Adding item/change orders are expensive. (bread and butter for many yards/workshops)
  4. Select most suitable yard based on time frame and reputation for quality, not just price for main items
  5. As job progress and condition become better know items may be deleted from list. (Easier and cheaper than adding items)
  6. Professional supervision and daily progress meetings are important

PS> Remember to check the bill thoroughly before signing off at completion of the job:


Thanks everyone for their input. I know the question sounded stupid-we are just getting a handle on the process prior to actually being in the shipyard. Like I said we have experience being in the Navy guiding workflow once we’re laid up.

The key document you need to produce is what’s known as a Drydock Spec. Typically it’s kept onboard as a running document (ideally) and is finalized leading up to a refit by the Chief Officer and Chief Engineer. It contains a detailed report of all the work that needs to be done. Shipyards can use this to give a fairly detailed quote.

It sounds like the ship may not have a dedicated crew right now so you need to track down a ‘Drydock Superintendent’. Most companies have one and organizing yard work is their specialty. It is absolutely essential to have someone familiar with the work before undertaking the project. Would be very helpful to hire an experienced Chief Officer who could get a start on the spec.

Nowadays your problem is more likely going to be based on yard availability rather than cost. Best of luck to you.