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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Duqm Drydock’s floating dock project gets green light

Panamax-size floating dock to enhance ship repair yard’s overall capabilities - By Conrad Prabhu - MUSCAT — Oman Drydock Company (ODC) has finalised plans for the addition of a floating dock to its world-class ship repair yard at Duqm on the Wusta coast.

According to a top official of the state-owned company, the Panamax-size floating dock will be fabricated by ODC itself at its sprawling complex within the Port of Duqm.

Shaikh Khalil bin Ahmed al Salmi, Deputy CEO of ODC, said the company’s Board had approved a study recommending the inclusion of a floating dock to the ship repair yard’s facilities.

Importantly, the floating dock project is a key part of ODC’s vision to establish a fully integrated facility capable of offering a wide spectrum of vessel maintenance and repair services in the Sultanate.
A feasibility study undertaken on behalf of ODC by leading professional services firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers found significant market potential for a floating dock at Duqm. The floating dock will complement ODC’s massive dry docks in targeting a wide array of vessel types and sizes requiring maintenance, repair and related services.

ODC currently boasts a pair of giant graving docks capable of accommodating massive ships, including Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs), Ultra Large Crude Carriers (ULCCs), fourth and fifth generation container ships, and other vessels of a maximum capacity of 600,000 DWT.

The floating dock, on the other hand, will primarily cater to smaller domestic tonnage, such as fishing trawlers, government vessels, passenger and cargo ferries, and small to mid-sized naval ships. When operational, it is expected to surpass in capacity the Gulf region’s only other floating dock currently in operation in Bahrain.

Plans for the addition of a floating dock to ODC’s impressive capabilities come as the ship repair yard gears for commercial launch. According to Al Salmi, commercial operations are targeted before the end of this year, signalling a new phase in the yard’s operational capabilities.

Since its ‘soft’ launch in April, ODC has been moving prudently towards a gradual ramp-up of operations in light of its importance as a national project that embodies the Sultanate’s maritime aspirations. Starting with the handling of relatively small vessels, ODC has since been taking on bigger ships in a carefully thought-out build-up of its capabilities.

The biggest of the vessels handled so far at ODC was a container ship owned by the German shipping line Hermann Buss. The 1,608 TEU capacity vessel was due to leave Duqm recently, following the completion of maintenance work.

To date, ODC has handled a total of 12 ships of varying sizes, said Al Salmi. Among the first arrivals was a pair of vessels owned by GDN of Belgium. Oman-owned or chartered craft have also been taking advantage of maintenance and repair facilities available on the country’s doorstep. Al Halaniyat, a barge owned by National Ferries Company, and Raysut-1, a cement carrier operated by Raysut Cement, have also been maintained  at ODC

The positive international market’s response since ODC’s soft launch augurs well for the ship repair yard’s long-term operational success, said Al Salmi, adding that an effective marketing campaign launched by the company is also set to pay dividends.

ODC has been showcasing its world-scale ship repair yard at leading international maritime exhibitions. In May, the company participated in Nor-Shipping, a prestigious annual maritime event held in Norway that attracts the biggest names from the global shipping industry.

The Deputy CEO also underlined the role played by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME), one of the world’s biggest shipbuilders, in the development of the yard. DSME is ODC’s strategic partner in the operation and management of the Duqm complex.

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