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Shipyard Authority says down time required soon to fix decades old equipment

While the American Samoa Shipyard Services Authority board is expecting to keep within its budget by the end of the current fiscal year, board chairman David Robinson says this all depends on the cost of major repairs that the facility is facing, as some of the equipment is three decades old.


In its 2nd quarter performance report for fiscal year 2013, Robinson says that during the first half of the fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2012 - Mar. 31, 2013), the shipyard completed 52 jobs, bringing in $881,604 in revenues, while expenditures were $828,724. The entity’s FY 2013 budget is $1.02 million.


At the end of the second quarter, the authority’s total assets stand at $1.11 million, which include current assets of $555,068 ( main checking account and accounts receivable) and fixed assets (including plant & equipment), the report states.


Samoa News understands that this is the first performance report submitted by the authority since it was established by executive order more than two years ago. It's also understood that the current board was requested by the Executive branch Budget Office to provide a performance report.


Responding to Samoa News questions as to the status of the authority’s budget with only six months left in the fiscal year, Robinson said, “our revenue was under budget during the first six months of this fiscal year  due to a number of weeks of downtime.


He explained the downtime was due to "mechanical failures of our slipway engine and necessary repairs to the slipway itself to strengthen the underside of the platform.”


“Our expenses were down, and under budget proportionately,” he said.


In the performance report, Robinson said the authority’s biggest challenge is the age of its equipment, adding that machine tools and other capital equipment require constant repairs to maintain productivity.


Additionally, “our reliance on a single dry dock occasionally hampers taking on more work, when multiple vessels wish to have repairs made on limited dock space,” he said. (Robinson told reporters early this month that the board is looking at asking the governor for federal grant money to build a second, smaller dry dock with a 500-ton slip, to serve smaller boats when the larger slipway is busy.)


Robinson reiterated this week that the shipyard’s equipment is nearly 30 years old and some of it, such as the hauling chain and the engine need replacing. The new chain, which costs $202,000, is going to be installed to replace the old one during the second week of June after the shipyard pulls up the Samoa government vessel for repairs next Tuesday.


“It is a quiet time for repairs at present, as the fishing is good and catches are high, so most vessels are out at sea and they will probably not come back for repairs till July. So now is a good time to carry out the repairs to our equipment,” he said.


The shipyard is expecting two purse seiners from Tri Marine International to come up on the slipway for repairs before the end of this calendar year “so we need all our new equipment in place and working well before this work commences,” he pointed out.


“Whilst it is difficult to predict at present, the Board expects that the shipyard will be close to budgeted revenue and slightly under expenses by the end of this current fiscal year— but it will very much depend on the cost of all the repairs and how soon we can get back into a revenue earning situation,” he said.


“In carrying out this work we are fixing the equipment issues and many other problems that should have been attended to in previous years,” he noted. “We are preparing for the future in being able to offer a good quality service at competitive rates and if we get it right we shall be employing more people and contributing more and more dollars to the local economy in the coming years.”