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Floating dock gives Abu Dhabi Ship Building new commercial firepower

Floating dock gives Abu Dhabi Ship Building new commercial firepower
The offshore supply vessel Bourbon Liberty 108 has become the first ship to be serviced at Abu Dhabi Ship Building’s (ADSB) new floating dock in the UAE capital’s historic deep-water port, Mina Zayed.

The 58m, 1,517gt OSV (pictured) is the start of what ADSB hopes will be bigger things to come at the 180m x 30m floating dry dock, a key tool in the company’s diversification strategy in light of the well-documented headwinds battering the ship building sector.

Having carved out an enviable reputation as the Middle East’s foremost naval shipwright since its inception in 1996, ADSB is now making a bold play for the vast commercial fleet – and all its associated maintenance, repair and conversion riches - plying the Arabian Gulf and beyond.

The combination of the new floating dry dock and the newly acquired quay space at Port Zayed, 35km north-west of its Mussafah headquarters, significantly upgrades ADSB’s services capability.

A 2,000 tonne synchro lift capable of docking vessels to a maximum LOA of 80m, not to speak of draft and speed restrictions in the channel leading to the 311,000sqm Mussafah yard, has curtailed ADSB’s commercial sector viability until now.

The new floating dry dock (with a 13m wet berth draft), purchased and towed 45 days from Turkey, bolsters lifting capacity to 10,000 tons and will busy 150 staff at full capacity.

With Port Zayed able to accommodate vessels up to 14m draft, ADSB is also able to carry out afloat repairs on ships more than 180m LOA. The Panama-flagged Omani cement carrier Raysut 1, in for a refit to its fire damaged accommodation before being dry docked for under water repairs, was a maiden client case-in-point when Seatrade Maritime News visited recently.

The St Vincent Grenadines-flagged Bourbon Liberty 108, owned by Paris-headquartered Bourbon Offshore which services the oil and gas industry with a fleet of 510 vessels in 45 countries, is in for underwater scrapping, high powered washing and a number of unspecified engine room and deck jobs.

With $1.3bn of work on the books, ADSB naval new build and services division is in robust health. Dr. Khaled Al Mazrouei, the company’s Emirati ceo, will remain true to the company’s military DNA but has identified the yard’s underutilised services capacity, targeting both its naval “partners” with their ever more sophisticated and larger vessels as well as merchant fleet, as a golden opportunity.

He wants 50% of ADSB’s revenue to come from services by 2020, a 40% uptick on current levels.

“I would say the majority of companies, if they are only focused on shipbuilding, they are struggling financially and operationally,” he said.

Al Mazrouei likens the service industry to a 100m sprint compared to the marathon that is the financial realisation of new building commission. He’s confident ADSB’s military-honed service capability will speak for itself but understands the biggest challenge is getting the message out that the company is open for commercial fleet business. As such, ADSB has 15 agents engaged in Europe and Asia to sell ADSB’s new service capability. More marketing firepower is to be added in due course.

“Signing a contract with a client for shipbuilding takes too long and when it comes within military, it takes even longer because they [the UAE Government] have their own priorities in terms of the air force, land force or naval. The situation across the [Arabian] Gulf also gives priority, which one they need to enhance and modernise.

“Whereas if you bring a ship into the drydock today, the financial impact of services is immediate. The minute the ship arrives, the metre starts calculating so we are therefore giving more consideration to services.”

ADSB, 40% owned by Mubadala Development Company, 10% by the Abu Dhabi Government and 50% by some 5800 shareholders, recorded a net profit before foreign exchange of AED81.5m ($22.19m) in 2015. Interestingly, Mubadala recently agreed to a merger with International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), a mega marriage poised to lead to further offshore sector work for ADSB.

The floating dock will be serviced by new workshop space quayside to compliment the steel and aluminium fabrication facility, mechanical and electrical services, pipe work capabilities and blasting, painting and hull treatment operations at Mussafah.

ADSB already counts the UAE Navy, Presidential Guard, Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection Authority (CICPA) and Kuwait Ministry of Defence among its client base today.