How Abu Dhabi's shipbuilding firm has grown over the years

It is a regional leader in manufacturing boats for both local and international clients


Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Tue 9 Aug 2022, 5:46 PM

Last updated: Wed 10 Aug 2022, 3:36 PM

From designing to building new naval and commercial vessels, Abu Dhabi Ship Building (ADSB) has turned out to be the regional leader in manufacturing boats.

The UAE shipbuilding firm designs, builds new boats, repairs, maintains, refits and converts vessels for both local and international clients. A subsidiary of the local defence conglomerate Edge, it provides ongoing through-life support to the UAE Navy and the local Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection ‎Authority.

The company’s main shipyard is located in Abu Dhabi’s Musaffah Industrial area and occupies a total area of over 300,000 sq m. Four large air-conditioned warehouses, six open spaces, and satellite stores facilitate storage and distribution at project sites. A shipyard warehouse allows storage of all critical project-specific items and stock items needed in day-to-day operations.

Over the years, ADSB has grown from strength to strength, delivering quality vessels and providing ongoing through-life support to the naval, commercial and luxury yacht sectors, both regionally and globally.

Running one of the most advanced shipyards in the Middle East, ADSB operates three main naval programmes: corvettes, offshore patrol vessels, and fast patrol boats. The UAE firm also offers a full range of maintenance, repair and refit, upgrade and conversion, as well as engineering consultancy services.

For the past 26 years since its inception in 1996, the ADSB has built more than 250 vessels in steel, aluminium and advanced composite and also repaired or maintained hundreds of others.

Company handles entire shipbuilding process from A-Z

The ADSB is handling the whole process of shipbuilding from A-Z -from design, manufacturing parts, and construction.

The company builds navy ships mainly for navy, coastguard and firefighting applications, commercial ships for mainly oil and gas applications and transportation vessels for passengers. ADSB also aims with international partners to build luxury vessels.

In an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times, Francesco Monaco, director of Shipbuilding and Engineering at ADSB, said the state-of the-art and strategic shipyard for the UAE handles all the in-house designs from the concept to the basic detail engineering, production, commissioning and delivering the vessels to the clients.

“Today ADSB is capable of coming up with the concept design, sit with the client and assess the requirements of the design, mapping the main specifications and preparing the layout and others. We also handle all the basic engineering parts of the vessel that includes the system and integration of all the related equipment, production until the completion of the vessel,” he said, adding ADSB designs and builds highly complex vessels for both naval and commercial customers.

He pointed out that firm has the technical and operational expertise to service vessels of all sizes, whether they are involved in littoral warfare operations, patrol missions, or exclusive economic zone protection.

ADSB specialises in the building, maintenance, repair, refitting, and conversion of naval and commercial vessels.

“We deploy the latest technologies to maximise fleet readiness, extend ship lifetimes, and lower overall lifecycle costs,” said Monaco, adding that the firm has in the past built and delivered state-of the-art ships for the UAE Navy and for other clients.

“Over the past two years, we have built multiple kinds of vessels for different clients. These include VIP- luxury transport vessels that can accommodate up to 60 people onboard, military vessels such as fast interceptors, fast patrol boats as well as transportation vessels which support the oil and gas industry."

“Currently, we are working on very important strategic projects for the UAE, as well as vessels for the international clients.”

The official says it takes between 8 to 36 months to finish building a vessel, depending on the size and complicity and that the company is apparently working on about 30 new projects.

According to Monaco, over the years, ADSB has successfully grown its international footprint through partnerships with leading industry players in Europe, the US and Asia to ensure its clients can access the most cutting-edge solutions in the market.

“While we will continue to develop UAE’s sovereign capabilities, the company is placing a greater emphasis on export sales and contributing to a competitive knowledge-based economy,” he said.

ADSB employs hundreds of workers and UAE nationals are mainly involved in the production process of shipbuilding. One of the vessels, Majed-01, a 12-metre boat which was showcased at NAVDEX 2021, was designed by an Emirati national.

“I am proud to have come up with the concept of the Majed-01 boat. We designed and built the entire boat from the UAE," said Majed Al Falasi, the designer of the Majed 01 boat, who is also the manager of Composit at ADSB.

Major achievements

Among ADSB’s many achievements are the successful delivery of the region’s largest naval shipbuilding programme for the UAE Navy’s six Baynunah-class corvettes and Arialah offshore patrol vessels (OPVs).

“The Baynunah is a top-class vessel, our flagship and the pride of the ADSB. It is the state-of the-art, very high-tech corvette which is currently in operation in the UAE,” said Monaco.

“We built six corvettes together with our strategic partners, but ADSB played the role of the main shipyard. The Baynunah was fully assembled, commissioned and delivered at ADSB.”

In 2021, ADSB signed the largest-ever contract for the company – an Dh3 billion deal to build four FALAJ3 OPVs vessels for the UAE Navy.

The first prototypes, 12m and 16m fast patrol boats, were unveiled last year at NAVDEX 2021. As other designs and prototypes are being developed, ADSB has a healthy order pipeline to enable it to sustain and grow well into the future.

Future plans for Abu Dhabi’s shipbuilding capabilities

On what ADSB hopes to develop and achieve in the future of shipbuilding capabilities in Abu Dhabi, Monaco says their main target is to enhance massively the company’s naval shipbuilding capability.

“We aim to design and build state-of-the-art corvette and even bigger sites as well as developing in-house designs for offshore supply vessels for the oil and gas industry. We are also working hard to enhance electric and hybrid proportions to catch up with all the requirements that are currently implemented around the world in terms of green power.

Together with its strategic partners, the Abu Dhabi firm also hopes to develop autonomous and Artificial Intelligence (AI) vessels that can run with self-system on board.

Monaco asserts that a nation having an in-house shipbuilding capability is something very important for the UAE because it doesn’t have to rely on other countries and that the nation owns the IP rights of their design and can license or sell to other nations.

“The maritime industry is growing very fast in the region. There is a huge number of vessels in the Gulf region that require maintenance, servicing, basic renovation or upgrade and even replacement for the old ones and this makes shipbuilding a very important sector for a nation to support the maritime cluster,” he said.

The fast-growing technology is among the challenges faced by ADSB, but the company ensures that it invests money, time and other resources and so as to overcome this.

The company’s strategic partners include the UAE Navy, the Critical Infrastructural Coastal Protection Authority (CICPA), ADNOC and other international partners and clients.


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