That is one of seven vessels previously owned by Alpesca, once a major fishing company in Argentina that ended up going bankrupt. Since 2015, RCA has been investing in the assets of that company and presented a plan to the local authorities that included the complete renovation of such vessels, many of them partially sunk and almost beyond recovery.
‘The fishing vessel Promarsa I was in such a condition that we thought its recovery was very difficult or almost impossible, given that it was half sunk, with much of its equipment missing and its generally poor condition,’ explained engineer Marcelo Duarte.
According to Lautaro Godoy, one of the leaders of Tecno Pesca Argentina (TPA) shipyard, the process took about 15 months.
Marcelo Duarte recalled that when the works began, the team realised that the vessel’s condition was much worse than had been initially thought.
‘When the reconstruction of the boat started and it was taken out of the water, the scope of the work ahead increased,’ he said.
The process involved a complete stripdown, so all its mechanical systems could be cleaned, and a full careening of its hull and superstructure, according to Lautaro Godoy.
‘Some of the equipment had to be replaced, including elements of the propulsion system. Some of the engines were repaired here at the shipyard,’ he said.
Marcelo Duarte said that 150 tonnes of steel were needed to renew the hull and other structures, ‘including the gantry and much of the deck layout.’
‘The fishing winch was rebuilt. The engines the control systems were renovated, he added.
The fishroom insulation had to be completely replaced and the freezing system was equally renovated, with the old Mycom compressors replaced with modern ones.
‘The working areas were redesigned so production could be optimised in a way that provides the crew with better working conditions,’ he said, adding that the accommodation was refitted to provide greater levels of comfort and to comply with current safety standards.
Modern sensors and navigation and communications equipment were installed to bring the wheelhouse up to date with the latest fishfinding and gear monitoring electronics
‘These sensors tell the skipper how much fish there is in the gear, and the updated electronics allow more selective fishing as well as leading to a higher quality of the catch,’ Marcelo Duarte said.
The project has involved not only TPA, but also a number of subcontractors who carried out the carpentry, electrical and other work on board.
According to Lautaro Godoy, although Promarsa I underwent an extensive transformation, the shipyard respected the original nature of the boat. The central goals were to make it operational again, to modernise it, and to make it safe.
‘All the structural work is now concluded and there’s a second stage, completing some specific requirements,’ he explained.
Marcelo Mou, the company’s president, emphasised that the whole renovation was carried out during the Covid-19 pandemic, when serious logistical issues affected the Argentinian marine industry. Earlier this year, the Russian invasion of Ukraine further intensified Argentina’s problems.
‘We had to deal with several challenges concerning the availability and costs of materials,’ Lautaro Godoy said.
The economic crisis in Argentina aggravated inflation, which reached 66% between January and the end of September 2022.
‘We have had to face many obstacles and high financial risks to keep working in Argentina every day due to this macroeconomic chaos and extremely volatile conditions,’ he said. All the same, the shipyard was able to conclude the project and to launch the vessel.
It will be go to the Patagonian province of Chubut, in the southern part of Argentina, where RCA’s operations are concentrated. Promarsa I will mainly fish for Argentine red shrimp. The company intends to keep investing in order to recover the remaining four vessels formerly owned by Alpesca.