11 October 2022

From industrial boat building to superyacht refit. The story of La Ciotat’s shipyard and the positive impact of the new shiplift

The tradition of boat building in La Ciotat goes back to the dawn of time; fishermen’s boats, then brigs, schooners, three-masted ships, followed one another to give way at the beginning of the 20th century to the construction of steam-powered “iron” ships. There begun a century of industrial shipbuilding of ocean liners, cargo ships and tankers, some of which are still sailing today.

The 4,300-tonne shiplift is located on the old slipway #1, from which ships would be launched. This would cause a large wave and is the inspiration behind the design of the new control station.

This outstanding activity that provided a large proportion of La Ciotat citizens with permanent employment came to an abrupt halt in 1988, plunging the site into a tumultuous six-year period of strike action and occupation of the shipyard. The site was re-opened in the mid 1990s following intensive campaigning by 105 “diehard” ex-Normed employees, intent on maintaining the site’s industrial vocation, giving MB92 La Ciotat, named Compositeworks at the time, a place to start its business.

The number “105” featured on La Ciotat Shipyards’ uniform is a reminder of the battle won for the reindustrialisation of the site

The significant drydocking infrastructure already in place, extensive local maritime expertise and convenient Mediterranean location provided the ideal backdrop for MB92 La Ciotat to develop into one of the superyacht industry’s leading refitters. The Group’s significant investment in the new 4,300-tonne facility, opened in September 2022, enables the Group to consolidate its market-leading position and have a lasting positive economic impact on the local community.

MB92 La Ciotat plays a central role in developing career opportunities for young local talent

Like MB92 Barcelona, MB92 La Ciotat is firmly rooted locally, with deep ties to the sea and a strong maritime heritage. The shipyard plays a central role in developing career opportunities for young talent and works alongside educational establishments to strengthen this link with our traditions and raise the technicity and professionalism of the local workforce.

The new shiplift will have a significant positive impact on the local economy

The new shiplift is expected to generate a significant increase in activity with a positive knock-on effect on local employment, whether this be directly with MB92 or indirectly with the increasing network of local subcontractors. In addition, local commerce in la Ciotat such as restaurants, hotels and shops will see a sharp increase in business thanks not only to the additional employees on site but also the rise in number of crew staying at the facilities.

In total it is estimated that MB92’s activity in La Ciotat will be responsible for over 900 full-time employees by 2024 (737 direct and indirect employees for the shipyard, 168 employees for local commerce), an increase of close to 50% from 2021, a large majority of which will be based in La Ciotat.


Read the in-depth story of the new 4,300t Atlas shiplift, from the origin to how it was built here

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