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    Oman launches Duqm Naval Dockyard

    Duqm Naval Dockyard (DND), a new Omani-British joint venture that adds a strategically important dimension to the world-class ship repair and maintenance capabilities of the Oman Drydock Company (ODC), has formally come into operation, a top official has confirmed to the Observer.

    Dr Ahmed al Abri (pictured), Deputy CEO Operations of ODC, who also helms the Duqm Naval Dockyard as its Chairman, said the newly established entity held its first board meeting just before the Eid holiday. It follows the completion of all formalities pertaining to the incorporation of the company at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, he noted.

    DND is a partnership between the wholly government-owned Oman Drydock Company (ODC), with a 51 per cent shareholding, and Babcock International Group, the UK’s leading engineering services provider for the British Navy, with a 49 per cent stake.

    The new entity, which will operate out of ODC’s state-of-the-art ship repair yard at Duqm, will help woo 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.
    Babcock 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.

    The formal incorporation of the Duqm Naval Dockyard comes just over a year after the two joint venture partners signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in March 2016 aimed at jointly developing a naval capability in Duqm.
    Speaking earlier to the Observer, Dr Al Abri noted that the new naval dockyard 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, DND’s new Chairman stated.

    Importantly, the launch of the new naval dockyard is expected to help pull in larger numbers of warships and naval craft for repairs and maintenance at Duqm. As many as 27 warships belonging to various international navies have so far been handled at the yard since it was opened in 2011.
    As for his first tasks as Chairman of the naval dockyard, Dr Al Abri commented, “My goal is to be a hands-on Chairman who interacts constantly with the DND management on serious operational matters, as well as on strategic and financial issues.”

    Conrad Prabhu 
    Oman Observer

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