CAPABILITY BOOST: New entity is joint venture of Oman Drydock Company (51 per cent) and Babcock International Group –
Conrad Prabhu –
MUSCAT, MARCH 27 –
The new Duqm Naval Dockyard (DND), a joint venture between Oman Drydock Company (ODC), wholly owned by the Omani government, and Babcock International Group, the UK’s leading engineering services provider for the British Navy, will formally come into operation next month.
The official launch of the new entity, which will be located at ODC’s state-of-the-art ship repair yard at Duqm, will help fuel the inflow of naval ships from British, European and other friendly international navies for repairs and maintenance services in the Sultanate.
Equally, it will bring specialist marine engineering know how to Oman which, alongside planned partnerships with global heavyweights, will position ODC for stronger business growth and potentially the rollout of shipbuilding capabilities in the future as well, a senior executive said.
Dr Ahmed al Abri, Deputy CEO — Operations, ODC, said: “Our partnership with Babcock will be formally operational when the new joint venture is registered with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. We expect this to happen next month.”
The imminent incorporation of the new entity comes less than five months after the two sides announced a landmark agreement to establish a partnership designed to enhance ODC’s naval docking capabilities. Naval ships being more complex than commercial cargo vessels require specialist expertise in their handling and maintenance — a capability that will now be significantly enhance in the Sultanate, said Dr Al Abri.
Babcock, which has a 49 per cent shareholding in Duqm Naval Dockyard (DND), is the principal provider of engineering support services to the UK’s Royal Navy. Over the past 25 years, the British firm has also provided critical naval design services, equipment and support to the navies of a number of countries.
According to Dr Al Abri, Duqm Naval Dockyard, owned 51 per cent by ODC, will be equipped to provide maintenance and engineering support services to warships and auxiliary vessels of Oman, the United Kingdom, and other international navies. Also envisaged as part of its capabilities is the refit and build of naval vessels, he said.
In addition to the significant technology transfer that will accrue to ODC as a result of its partnership with Babcock, the UK firm will also invest in, among other assets, high-tech mobile workshops by the quayside, said the official. Also in the works is a modest-sized floating dock.
Significantly, the new entity will add further cachet to ODC’s capabilities in the maintenance and repairs of naval ships. Since inception in 2011, the yard has already delivered a total of 27 warships after repairs and maintenance – a figure that is set to be substantially ramped up when the new Duqm Naval Dockyard is fully operational.