Nautical refit – Between standards and design

On 20th September 2019, at the 59th Genoa Boat Show, ENAVE, in collaboration with the Genoa Order of Engineers, held a technical seminar to illustrate the technical, design, regulatory and practical aspects of boatbuilding that may be hidden behind the refit or repair of a recreational vessel.

Refitting a vessel includes a number of tasks such as adding or replacing components, customizing it to meet the owner’s needs, restoring worn-out or poorly preserved parts, and technological upgrades to improve navigation, performance and/or consumption.

Nautical refitting is a growing sector with a turnover of about €240 million (source Ucina). This slice of the nautical market, which has now been consolidated as an emerging reality in continuous development, certainly merits some reflection. The regulatory framework is constantly being updated, and it is important to provide tools to professionals who support shipowners in these operations so that they can marry the wishes of the owner with the technical and legislative requirements.

During the seminar, the refitting universe was analysed on the basis of the relationship between site/designer and technical body; the aim was to raise awareness among operators in the sector, helping them to understand which procedures should be followed and their importance.

The first panel of experts included the engineers Damiano Lancia, Giovanni Ceccarelli and Stefano Signori, and focused on the aspects of design by the boatbuilders, the demands of the owner, and the procedures to be implemented in collaboration with the technical body. Meeting the customer’s demands is the shipyard’s main concern, but the current rules must be taken into account. Often, in fact, modification work on a boat can result in something bigger. An intervention that may seem to be an end in itself must always be evaluated in terms of the Essential Requirements imposed by the 2013/53 EU Directive, which governs the design and manufacture of pleasure craft and their components, and rules on their free movement in the European Union. If there are any doubts about conformity to even one of the Essential Requirements, it is necessary to check them all. In addition to the “initial” modification, this will often also involve the replacement or modernization of systems such as fuel or blackwater systems, but this is not the only concern; having made changes to the Essential Requirements, it is mandatory to have the Owner’s Manual and stability calculations updated.

Hence, the second panel, which included ENAVE technicians and engineers Alessandro Suardi and Giulia Cresci, focused on the regulatory issues involved. A refit or repair can take different forms, depending on the nature of the change. The regulatory framework is clear: if there are significant innovations or changes that compromise the Essential Requirements imposed by the Directive in force, a post-construction assessment (PCA) is required. Even if changes are only made to non-essential technical features, safety certificate validation is required (valid only on vessels registered with RID). Formally speaking, post-construction assessment is very similar to the certification of a new vessel; since it has undergone significant changes, it is considered a new unit. Therefore, if innovations have been made to the vessel, or it has undergone changes to non-essential technical construction features, validation via complete on-board inspection to verify that the safety requirements continue to be met.

It must be noted that, compared to previous years, new shipbuilding realities are emerging on the scene: these are boatyards, which, because of the strong competition in the new construction market, choose to dedicate themselves entirely to refitting. This is why it is important to train and inform industry experts. In general, it is quite a common opinion that this market, although increasingly selective and quality-driven, will continue to give operators in the field something to chew on.


The panels comprised the following experts:

Eng. Francesco Prinzivalli – Naval Engineer – ENAVE Founding Member

Eng. Damiano Lancia – Naval Engineer – Customer Care & Refit Manager for Vismara Marine

Eng. Giovanni Ceccarelli – Ceccarelli Yacht Design

Eng. Giulia Cresci – Naval Engineer – ENAVE Assessment Office

Eng. Stefano Signori – Naval Engineer – Studio Mare Nostrum

Eng. Alessandro Suardi – Naval Engineer – ENAVE Assessment Office