Manaus: A Port on a Hill


Cummins Vessel Reference #641

The Barbosa Reparos Navais shipyard in Manaus.

To a large extent Manaus owes its existence to its location at the confluence of the dark waters of the Rio Negro and the sand-coloured waters of the Rio Solimões. Of equal importance is the elevated land that rises above the oft-flooded Amazonian basin. With river heights varying by as much as 14 meters over the year the elevation is good but it leaves limited flat beach land for shipyards.

Ready for the installation of a single Cummins KTA19-M

The shortage of low beach land hasn’t stopped Francisco Barbosa Dos Santos from building steel towboats at his yard, Barbosa Reparos Navais Ltda. A visitor arriving at the yard by road might be a bit confused when the entrance is a simple door between two houses. Inside the door a small storage area leads to a precipitous drop to the river far below. A long flight of stairs parallels the metal tracks of a simple funicular on which one stands to be lowered by cable.

The funicular brings personel to the yard. The heavy stuff comes by water.

As the visitor descends to the yard a quick count shows a dozen boats and barges in various states of repair and completion. Barbosa builds the hulls and superstructure on the limited, and steep, space available on his marine ways then finished boats up alongside his covered barge machine shop. In late August there were two Cummins powered boats in the water.

Powertech Comercial Ltda.'s João M. N. Mendonça talkes with Jose Soares of Caiambe Cnavegacao & Com. Ltda. flanked by a pair of KTA19-M engines.

The first, with its hull and superstructure completed and covered in grey primer, awaited a single KTA19-M engine. When all done up this would be a fine looking single screw 600-HP towboat. The second boat, the Possante L, was nearing completion and Cummins Manaus representative João Mendonça was visiting the owner Jose Soares. Powered by a pair of Cummins KTA19-M mains this 18 by 6.6-meter, 1200-HP boat would be fully capable of handling the larger tows on the Amazon system.

New construction and repair in Manaus is so busy that it has become hard to find a build spot in the busy shipyard schedules. At the same time it is even a challenge to find a piece of river shore on which to build a shipyard. But business is booming and the yards, like the boats, are getting built.

For more information:

Franciso Barbosa dos Santos
Barbosa Reparos Navais Ltda.
Rua Coração de Jesus, 33
São Raimundo, Manaus – AM
CEP: 69027-020
Phone: 92 3671 7828
Mobile: 92 99028892 | 9206 1848

João M. N. Mendonça
Marine Business Manager
Powertech Comercial Ltda.
Av. Efigênio Sales, 1717-P.10
Manaus, Amazonas
69.060-020, Brazil
Phone: 55 92 2121 8000 | 8007
E-mail: [email protected]

Alan Haig-Brown

Alan Haig-Brown

Over 30 years as an author for global commercial marine and fishing publications backed with hands-on experience on commercial fishing boats and coastal freighters makes Alan Haig-Brown uniquely qualified to provide vessel reference articles for Cummins Marine. You can find him in shipyards around the world, and on his own website,

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