PHOTO: Grand Bahama Shipyard welcomes its first commercial vessel, the Agathonissos. (photo via Carnival Corporation)
Following the devastation of Hurricane Dorian, officials from the Grand Bahama Shipyard (GBS) announced Thursday the facility has resumed operations and welcomed back its first commercial vessel.
The Grand Bahama Shipyard is located in Freeport, Grand Bahama, and will once again host cruise ships when Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Ecstasy arrives on October 5. The facility will also support recovery efforts through the ongoing work of its more than 600 employees.
The Freeport shipyard also expects to service 29 dry-dockings throughout the remainder of the year and generate additional economic activity for the surrounding area of Grand Bahama.
“It was extremely important to get up and running as quickly as possible and begin taking in vessels to help support the employees and families at the shipyard, along with economic contributions and rebounding activity for the island,” Grand Bahama Shipyard CEO David Skentelbery said in a statement.
“This is a significant sign of positive progress for the island, and we look forward to continuing our normal operations while also supporting the Bahamian recovery with direct support, including to island utilities, along with increased economic activity from our operations, and also from the industry’s collective efforts to support The Bahamas with immediate and long-term relief,” Skentelbery continued.
The Grand Bahama Shipyard suffered no significant damage from the hurricane, with the only issues coming from erosion. The facility can power its core operations and communications infrastructure, as well as provide fresh water and meals in its cafeteria, which serves hundreds of workers daily.
The Grand Celebration from Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line returned to Palm Beach on Saturday morning with more than 1,100 evacuated Bahamian and American residents aboard.
The cruise line spent nearly a full day on Friday clearing potential evacuees, including vetting their visa and passport documentation, as well as landing key supplies.
The ship sailed from Palm Beach on Thursday evening on a humanitarian mission, with 300 first responders and volunteers aboard, as well as 200 Bahamian residents who were stranded in South Florida during Hurricane Dorian.
“Doctors were leaving work to join the ship,” said Oneil Khosa, CEO of Bahamas Paradise. “After making the announcement earlier in the week that we were going, we had 300 tons of supplies donated within hours.”
Prior to docking in Freeport, the crew had prepared 850 boxed lunches and delivered them to local shelters.
The ship was also loaded with 150 palettes, totalling more than 225,000 pounds of supplies, including water, food, personal hygiene products, medical equipment, generators and more. Four of these palettes were exclusively dog food, according to a press release.
“Everything is pro bono,” Khosa told Cruise Industry News. “We opened up the ship going there and going back.”
100 additional Bahamian bins were also transported, sent from family members in South Florida and delivered directly to Grand Bahama Island residents who picked them up in Freeport.
In addition to delivering supplies, medical personnel onboard also delivered a baby when visiting a local facility in Freeport.