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How Capital Signal Is Leading the Caribbean Marine Construction Industry

By: Guy Britton

In a region of islands, marine construction isn’t just important — it’s essential. For more than three decades, one company has been at the forefront of marine construction: Trinidad and Tobago’s Capital Signal, which has worked on some of the most significant projects around the region in its 32 years. So what’s next for the company? And what’s the state of marine construction in the wider Caribbean? To learn more, Caribbean Journal Invest talked to Sebastian Anthony Jagdeo, General Manager of Capital Signal Company Ltd.

Please tell us about Capital Signal and what it is that you do.

Driven by a passion for marine construction, our founders Barry Rostant and Roland Herrera established Capital Signal within the islands of Trinidad and Tobago in 1992.

With a 32-year legacy, our commitment to marine construction and coastal engineering services throughout Trinidad and the wider Caribbean remains unwavering. Our extensive range of projects span from revetment construction to beach restoration, diverse piling techniques, dredging, and all facets of marine work. Our 4+ acre port facility in Trinidad has lent itself to our remarkable growth, by enabling customised support for offshore projects, vessel services, equipment mobilisation, and backloading operations.

In the last decade, our services have expanded to specialise in rig positioning and comprehensive pipeline route surveys for the region, through our geotechnical and geophysical division, strategically located in Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico.

At Capital Signal, we pride ourselves on finding customer-oriented solutions for some of the region’s most unique challenges; completing projects safely, on-time, within budget, and always to the highest standard.

What Major Projects has Capital Signal completed in the Caribbean?  

Capital Signal has had the privilege of working on a number of projects spanning on the Eastern Caribbean from Haiti to Suriname, and also in Guyana, Venezuela and Curacao. In Barbados, we’ve been instrumental in key projects such as the south-coast and west-coast boardwalk, Bridgetown port extensions, and the rehabilitation of the Constitution River boardwalk. Our experience includes constructing coast guard facilities for the U.S. government across several Caribbean islands, and one recent highlight was the successful rehabilitation of Saba Port in St. Maarten.  

Can Capital Signal manage construction projects anywhere in the region?

Backed by experience, proven results, and our dual bases in Trinidad and Mexico, our well-equipped team at Capital Signal has the capability to manage construction projects across the entire Caribbean region.

Acutely aware of the uncertainties and risks posed by marine construction, our innovative team has a reputation for overcoming challenges to ensure safe and successful completion of all projects. This is a core part of what we do, and we are well-versed in it.

You specialise in Marine Construction and Coastal Engineering. Can you tell us about your capabilities in this area?

Capital Signal is recognized as one of the region’s award winning, premier maritime service providers; with our expertise in marine construction and coastal engineering grounded in over three decades of experience.

Our company has developed an extensive client list, ranging from major oil and gas operators, military operations, to government organisations; a testament to our wide range of services and expertise.

From the construction of port structures to beach restoration, crane barge operations to dive support, steel fabrication to geotechnical and survey engineering, Capital Signal is an all-rounded partner to our clients.

We are also proud to share that our involvement in coastal engineering extends even beyond construction. We assist clients with project development, site reconnaissance surveys, and all necessary documentation for the tendering process. Our capabilities in these areas are bolstered by our in-house team, which includes skilled engineers, complemented by an extensive network of experts for larger coastal design projects.

One of your specialities is coastal design and feasibility studies. Can you explain what that is?

Feasibility studies are the cornerstone of our commitment to delivering value to our clients. These studies provide a robust, long-term analysis of their project’s viability, encompassing crucial factors like environmental impact, technical feasibility and material selection.

After clarifying the client’s needs through these studies, our coastal design phase comes to life. Here, we craft designs that adequately align with their requirements. These encompass a range of coastal structures, from jetties to groynes and breakwaters, all tailored to meet the objectives effectively and within budget.

One of your divisions is Port and Shorebase Services. Can you tell us more about that?

At Capital Signal, our investment into our 4+ acre facility, complete with 1,200 linear feet of berthing space and 6 berths, amplifies the pride that we take in our Port and Shorebase Services.

In addition to our offshore logistics, vessel mobilisation/demobilisation and vessel repair services, we also offer onshore support for offshore operations. This includes loading/offloading cargo, outfitting vessels, and various services for diving, dredging, offshore installations, and survey projects. Our services encompass ship repairs, fabrication, welding, sandblasting, painting, marine maintenance, fuelling and water supply.

Trusted by Oil and Gas industry leaders, our team maintains high quality work and professionalism in all that we do.

Capital Signal has been in business a long time. What changes have you seen over that time? 

Over the years Capital Signal has experienced significant developments within the industry. One notable shift that we are glad to see is the heightened focus on safety and increased detail for engineering projects, even those where engineering was not previously a top priority, like breakwaters.

Internally, the growth and expansion of our services has seen a transformation not only through the diverse disciplines that we specialise in, but geographically, with our geoscience division in Mexico allowing us to successfully expand our services internationally.

As a company we have overcome many challenges and changes over the years, and though we know that the journey is still ongoing, we are proud of our achievements and excited to see where the future takes us. 

How has the pandemic affected the industry?

The maritime industry, as with many sectors, underwent a transformative journey during the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing about both challenges and opportunities. The pandemic disrupted global supply chains, created labour shortages and imposed travel restrictions, all of which made it difficult to adhere to project timelines.

For Capital Signal, a company with a strong regional focus, this limitation prompted us to shift our focus to local opportunities. From 2020 to mid-2022, we managed to navigate through these challenging times with a steady stream of contracts allowing us to remain operational.

However, 2023 into 2024, we have been witnessing a revitalised industry with more opportunities emerging in the islands. This trend speaks to our industry’s adaptability and resilience, and reinforces our collective capacity to embrace change and capitalise on emerging opportunities.

What’s your outlook for marine construction in the Caribbean over the next 5 years?

In the next five years we foresee a promising future for marine construction in the Caribbean. Projects are resuming, inquiries are increasing, and confidence in industry is rising. This optimism is driven by key factors such as:

  • The rise of renewable energy projects like wind farms and geothermal power creating opportunities for marine construction.
  • Post-pandemic tourism and real-estate revitalization efforts leading to new harbour and marina construction.
  • The significance of coastal protection against climate change is also driving demand for projects involving offshore breakwaters and coastal defences.
  • The expansion and modernisation of ports for inter-island trade, fuel the need for infrastructure development.

These factors combine to create a landscape for growth and innovation in Caribbean marine construction in the coming years, and our team at Capital Signal is prepared for it.

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