The country has rolled out several projects along its coast line amongst them being the Lamu Port. The strategic location of the port, the maritime transportation of crude oil and other increased maritime activities in the new port are likely result in the increase in the number of naval vessels on the Kenya coast. The increased number of naval vessels will increase demand for associated activities such as ship maintenance, repairs and construction. The existing companies ie. SECOL and AMGECO are expected to have in increase in number of clientele and may have to diversify into other activities such as ship construction to meet the increasing market demand. Their limiting factor may be space hence the Kenya Navy Slip Way.

With this in mind and the Kenya Navy having been one of the clienteles, are looking at setting up our own Dry dock to enable us service our own ships and probably later look into providing services to partner institutions at a reasonable fee.


The Kenya Defense Forces through its Naval Arm is in the process of implementing the construction of a dry dock. A dry dock is a narrow basin or vessel that can be flooded to allow a load to be floated in, the drained to allow that load to come to rest on a dry platform. This gives shipyard workers access to the ship’s hull and other areas that are usually under water. Dry docks are also used for the construction other than the maintenance and repair of ships, boats and other water crafts.

There are various types/designs of dry docks. These include:

  • Graving docks
  • Floating docks.
  • Ship lifts.
  • Slipways.
  • Transfer systems.
  • Small craft launching ramps.

The Kenya Navy after deliberations and assessments settled for the Slip way design. A slip way, a cradle on wheels on rails running down into the sea was patented in
1819 in Scotland by Thomas Morton. The first slip way in Africa was constructed in Simonstown –South Africa for the South African Navy by Keith Mackie having improved further from the Scottish slip way. Other slipways on the eastern coast of Africa are the Port Said Slipway in Egypt and Djibouti.

The Kenyan slipway will be of length 150 meters thereby surpassing the other slipways in the eastern coast of Africa which are of length 100m. Currently the existing slipways are fully booked all year round and this can portend as a revenue generating venture for Kenya aside from lowering the current cost of maintenance for its naval vessels which it has been contacting both locally and overseas. The length of the slip way allows for a larger capacity and number of vessels it can accommodate and also for vessels of larger capacity and length.

The Kenya Navy Slip Way And The Blue Economy

The term “Blue Economy” stems from the 2012 UN Conference on sustainable development (Rio +20) and refers to food, jobs and opportunities for development provided by Oceans and Coastal assets. Blue Economy advocacy recognizes that the oceans have a major role to play in humanity’s future and that it offers an approach to sustainable development better suited for developing nation’s circumstances, constraints and challenges. The four fundamental components of the Blue Economy for supporting, sustaining, and growing include:

a. Sustainable commercial and recreational fisheries.
b. Tourism, recreation, and uses of ocean and coastal space that do not result in direct use or consumption of resources.
c. Coastal restoration, protection, and adaptation.
d. Offshore renewable energy development.

The completion of the Kenya Navy’s slipway will enhance the maintenance of its sea vessels thereby improving in its capability in to provide a safe and secure environment through enhanced patrolling of the country’s sea lanes of communication and providing an enabling environment for the four fundamentals of the blue economy above. There lies other opportunities that may be harnessed such as the construction and maintenance of other commercial fishing platforms and with suitable/ strategic partnerships can expand to commercial naval vessels that can enhance the country’s revenue.

Strategic perspective of the Kenya navy slip way

Along the eastern coast of Africa we currently have only three slipways located in Egypt, Djibouti and South Africa. The existing slip ways are always fully booked all year round. This reassures us of maintenance services other than our own all year round.

The existing slipways on the eastern coast of Africa are all of length 100m. The Kenya slip way is being designed for 150m. That means our slip way will have a larger capacity increasing our favorability to provide maintenance services for larger vessels enhancing a probable 24hr/365 day economy.

Analysis/ Suggestions

To collaborate with established partners in ship construction such as Damen (the largest ship manufacturer in the world) to propel/ and /or market our slip way as a preferred destination for ship construction/ maintenance.

Local Capacity building especially on aspects architectural and design expertise in ship design and construction.

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