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A Blossoming Ship Repair and Ship Maintenance Sector

The repair and maintenance of ships is one of the fastest growing sectors in the territory thanks to the rapid expansion of the pleasure craft, cruise ship, and luxury yacht markets. As emerging countries around the Mediterranean basin have developed, the market for yachts larger than 30 meters has literally exploded over the past 30 years. Over the past 10 years, Marseille has become the #1 marina in France for pleasure craft and a Top 5 marina on the Mediterranean Sea.

With its long history of port industries and maritime trade, as well as the traditional shipyards in La Ciotat and Marseille, Provence has a foundation of expertise and savoir-faire that is ideally suited to the modern ship maintenance sector. The area has cutting-edge maintenance facilities and top-of-the-line equipment for both naval refitting and the maintenance of super yachts or mega yachts. This infrastructure has created an ecosystem that is a source of well-paid jobs in mechanics, metallurgy, carpentry, and polymers. What’s more, this hub of regional expertise also benefits the local offshore and marine energy sector.

In Provence, the Mediterranean Sea offers a bounty of opportunities across various maritime sectors:

  • Marine and submarine technology;
  • Underwater robotics, sonar, marine communication and acoustics, naval design;
  • Coastal and maritime engineering including simulations, hydrodynamics, and planning and development;
  • Offshore technology for oil exploration and production;
  • Environmental planning and coastline development;
  • Oceanology, marine biology, aquaculture, underwater images, climatology, remote sensing, waste management.

The presence of major companies such as Thales Underwater Systems, the ECA Group, and the CNIM Group, bolstered by oceanographic research institutes such as Ifremer, has created a maritime industries sector that fosters growth and provides opportunities for research and start-ups. Internationally renowned businesses have already emerged from this thriving maritime milieu, including Comex, Cybernetix, Geocean, and Moteurs Baudouin.

Key Figures for the Maritime Sector in Provence

  • 120 companies, 85% of which are located in the Bouches-du-Rhône or the Var jurisdictions;
  • 4000 people employed in private sector maritime companies;
  • 30 public research units comprised of 600 researchers and technicians specialized in marine science and technology;
  • 27 graduate training programs dedicated to maritime industries;
  • 4 certified scientific missions and 1 certified research mission dedicated to marine sciences under the auspices of the French National Center for Scientific Research;
  • #1 maritime location in the world for pleasure craft and sailing;
  • Marseille Fos is the #1 port in France and the Mediterranean and the #3 oil port in the world;
  • Toulon is the #1 military port in France.

Provence's Maritime Advantage 

  • Ideal geographic location: The Mediterranean coastline in Provence is part of the golden triangle of pleasure boating (Saint-Tropez, Portofino, Porto Cerva) and also features ports that are major cruise ship destinations and serve international shipping routes.
  • Commitment to infrastructure: The Marseille Fos Port received €32 million in infrastructure investment in 2017 and features three large main harbors and the Forme 10 dry dock, the largest dry dock in the Mediterranean. This makes it a leading ship repair site, while the heavy equipment operated by CNM facilitates the repair of ocean liners, freighters, oil tankers, container ships, and bulk carrier ships. Meanwhile, the La Ciotat Shipyards (formerly Semidep) is a leading Mediterranean site for yacht repair and maintenance. Every year, the shipyards welcome more than 100 boats of more than 50 meters in length. There are 35 companies working at the shipyards, creating 700 jobs and €120 million in turnover in 2016. Half of the 34-hectare site is still available for development.
  • Active R&D support: The Pôle Mer Méditerranée cluster supports innovations and collaborations that will meet the technological challenges of tomorrow with projects such as Navire du Futur, Oceans 21, or Horizon 2020. The Secure Communicating Systems cluster focuses on innovation in fields such as IoT, cyber security, or Big Data that have important applications within the maritime sector. And Team Henri-Fabre research facility is a joint public-private venture that creates and tests news materials and processes that can be used in maritime technology.