Saint Nazaire: Between Giants of the Seas and Giants of the Air


  • 460 000 tonnes of overall traffic at Saint Nazaire in 2018
  • 140 000 tonnes of cereals exported
  • 15 000 tonnes of heavy-lift cargo
  • 115 000 tonnes of steel products imported


A Shipbuilding Heavyweight

The Chantiers de l’Atlantique Shipyards are the birthplace of some of the giants of the seas. Providing work for over 2 000 salaried employees and numerous subcontractors, the yards continue to specialize in cruise liners and high-tech vessels and are looking to diversify into renewal marine energies. Among the other players present around the Saint Nazaire docks are OCEA for navy vessels or SNCM, one of Chantiers de l’Atlantique’s subcontractors, which has extended its activities to cover the building of entire vessels.

A Sustainable Future for Ship Repairs

With its three dry docks and the Louis Joubert sluice dock, Saint Nazaire is a major centre for ship repairs. Several industrial companies utilize its infrastructures, including among others Clemessy Services (maintenance), Mécasoud (mechanical welding) and EMCC (marine engineering work). Docks that offer real potential for accommodating new activities such as yacht refits, but above all renewable marine energies (building of prototypes, reception of vessels designed to carry the offshore wind turbines of the future, etc.).

The Gateway for Agri-Foodstuffs

Cattle feed, fruit, oilseeds, grain, cereals, vegetable oil… the installations at Saint Nazaire handle numerous types of agri-foodstuffs traffic. Saint Nazaire is notably the site of a base for oilcake production, with Cargill’s sunflower seed trituration plant and the two IDEA grain silos, as well as significant storage capacity for fruit (TFA) and refrigerated produce, including notably the packing and repacking facility operated by STEF.

Heavy-Lift Cargo and Steel Coils

Located beside the Penhoët Dock, Arcelor Trading and Distribution imports steel intended for the Company’s Basse-Indre plant. Its steel uncoiling line processes 150 000 tonnes of steel a year. Not far from there, another hefty piece of equipment is to be found: the 400-tonne jumbo derrick. This is used to handle heavy-lift consignments such as MAN Energy Solutions, Chantiers de l’Atlantique cruise liner funnels, the large boilerwork fabrications produced by Tissot or Airbus aircraft sections.

Aeronautics Lends Saint Nazaire Wings

Other giants, this time giants of the air, are designed in Saint Nazaire. Another big name in the sector of fuselage sub-assembly design and manufacturing, STELIA Aerospace, a division of EADS, took over part of Airbus’s business in 2009, locating to a site close to Airbus’s Montoir de Bretagne assembly plant, which assembles the forward and central sections of the aircraft before onforwarding to Toulouse.