Ship building and repairs

Ship building


South African companies build state-of-the-art boats and ships of up to 140 metres for commercial and military customers to exacting standards.

Value proposition

Ships and boats, whether for military, commercial or leisure purposes, are highly mobile products, and those who make them must adhere to high standards. Ships built in South Africa are of the same standard as in Europe, America and Australia, but are highly competitive because of lower labour costs.


A rich supply chain allows over 60% of a vessel’s value to be sourced in South Africa, even for high-tech applications. This includes ballistic protection and the installation of naval-grade combat suites for oil and gas operations in dangerous waters. Local distributors, qualified engineers and systems integrators can provide expertise in fitting out with complex sub-systems, sourced globally. South Africa has excellent engineering skills for working in steel, aluminium, GRP, or advanced composites. Local specialists can install and integrate fly-by-wire controls, advanced navigation, ship management and sensor systems.

The South African Government and state-owned companies commissioned more than US$440 million of vessels in the five years from 2014, with local content worth more than US$250 million. For investors in the industry, local content rules provide a growing market for vessels, components and services.

As well as military craft, Cape Town’s around 40 boatyards and 3 500 specialist staff produce award-winning super-yachts for the most demanding customers, an industry that exports 90% of its product, and attracts a positive trade balance of around US$73 million annually.

South African ship- and boat-builders offer end-to-end, turnkey solutions. From design and manufacture, to maintenance, service and crew training. This makes them easy to deal with as one-stop-shops, and helps their clients get the maximum return on investment.

Customers receive highly-sophisticated, economically-built craft with rapid turnaround times supported by close integration of designers, manufacturers and vendors along the supply chain. And this means that new investors in the industry will be supported by an existing pool of experienced personnel and vendors

Ship repairs


The country, using local skills, also provides extensive repair and maintenance services to ocean vessels travelling along one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

The value proposition

Advantages are a strong skills base, lower labour costs than many Western countries, and a strategic location. South Africa is a economic location for supporting operations further North off the continent’s East and West coasts. It also is on suitable liner routes for efficient delivery of complex, globally-sourced components. As well as geographic and economic advantages, work sourced in South Africa can contribute to African Content requirements when bidding for public sector contracts or licences.


Between specialised repair berths, graving docks, floating docks and riding maintenance crews, most repair and maintenance operations can be carried out. South Africa’s local industry can supply 60% or more of a ship’s value, and parts that need to come from overseas can be delivered via efficient global supply chains.