Balaena invests in Gibdock dockyard in Gibraltar

Jun 8, 2023 | Featured Article, Opinion

Balaena, a leading maritime engineering solutions provider, has marked its first anniversary as owner of the renowned Gibdock dockyard in Gibraltar by renewing its commitment to growth. Simon Gillett, founder of Balaena, explains the key rationale behind the purchase of GibDock.

Simon Gillett

The team approached this acquisition with the following in mind:

  • The same – we are a ship repair facility, that is not going to change.
  • More of it – we are focused on growing the yard and filling our capacity.
  • Better – means just that, we have an eye on our neighbours to ensure that we are better neighbours, we have an eye on the environment, we have an eye on quality and of course we are talking to our clients to ensure we deliver exactly what is wanted, on time, on budget.

 Q. Who are your key stakeholders?

A. The key stakeholders remain our shareholders, the Government of Gibraltar, our neighbours and employees and most importantly our ever-loyal customers.

An aerial view of Gibdock

 Q. How well was the purchase received?

A. Well, that is really a question for others rather than us, but from our side of the fence at least, the acquisition seems to have been very well received. The subtle changes that we are making now and the direction of travel ahead of us are well supported by the Gibraltar Government, our staff and our ever-expanding customer base.

 Q. How does it fit in with your offshore and energy businesses?

A. Our offshore renewables business is the principal reason why we made the decision to purchase the yard in the first place. As a business focused on delivering excellence in maritime engineering, it made perfect sense to acquire the best located engineering hub.

Offshore vessel at Gibdock

Q. Can you explain your revitalisation plan? 

A. The revitalisation starts with the simplest of steps – a broom. First, we clean, then we repair, then we focus on what our customers need from a 21st century repair facility. We have done the first piece and are busy working on the second and third phases now. The good news is that the yard is in very good shape overall, so we don’t have to focus too much on the repair, and can look very much to the future.

Q. You mention completing “more extensive and complex projects” – can you provide more detail?

A. We are looking at how we can support much larger vessel conversions and larger overall packages of work within the yard, and this year has seen the start of that process, alongside of course the building of our own offshore devices.


Q. What is your current naval vessel, offshore structure and commercial ship mix?


  • 25% Naval/military
  • 15% Construction
  • 60% Commercial shipping

 Q. Do you have any plans to change the vessel repair mix at Gibdock?

Q. There are no plans to fundamentally change the mix of customers within the yard, rather a focus to do more of. The one exception to the above mix of customers is the superyacht market – here we are looking at some very specific upgrades within the yard over the coming months that will focus on them and their specific requirements.

A superyacht in Gibdock

Gibdock is looking to do more superyacht work in the future

 Q. Do you have any plans for new equipment or upgrades in the yard?

A. Our plans for the yard in the short term focus primarily on improving staff welfare facilities and the environmental performance of the yard. These include:

  • Moving towards greater hydroblasting, thus reducing the reliance on grit, which is good for the wider environment but also the local environment
  • Replacing all current company ICE vehicles with electric vehicles, along with the requisite charging infrastructure within the yard
  • Replacing existing plant within the yard with electric alternatives, starting with electric cherry pickers
  • Shore power upgrade for dockside support and with the aim of supporting ‘cold ironing’ visiting vessels in the near future.

Medium term we are starting with the development of our new offices for our expanding group staff and a new welcome/welfare/reception centre for customers, giving them greater support and making life that bit easier whilst they are with us.

 Q. What do you think makes Gibdock stand out?

A. The location, quality, value for money, delivery of projects on time and on budget; and nice people to do business with!

If you enjoyed this article, you can find similar stories in the latest issue of DryDock here