Safeen prepares for the future
Captain Adil Ahmed Banihammad
chief marine services officer
For many centuries Abu Dhabi has played a central role in the flow of people and goods not only in the Arabian Gulf but across the Indian Ocean. Its pivotal position between Europe and Asia makes it a natural transhipment point as well as a gateway into the Middle East. At the heart of its modern economic success lies Abu Dhabi Ports and its subsidiary Safeen, formerly known as Abu Dhabi Marine Services.
“Abu Dhabi Ports owns and operates the emirate’s eleven ports and so handles between 15,000 and 25,000 vessels each year,” explains Captain Adil Ahmed Banihammad, chief marine services officer at Safeen. “At its core lies our flagship deep-water Khalifa Port and the adjacent Kizad, the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi, which between them are currently investing billions of dollars in the next phase of their expansion.”
Doubling container capacity
As part of that programme, Abu Dhabi Ports has partnered with China’s Cosco Shipping to double the container capacity of Khalifa Port to five million containers a year by extending the quay wall and dredging the harbour to allow it to accept the largest container ships. The increasing shipping activity is expected in turn to encourage foreign companies to set up in the industrial zone. All this additional activity will in turn create demand for Safeen’s services.
“Safeen came into existence in 2014,” says Captain Banihammad, “with the intention of becoming the preferred provider of world-class integrated marine and ports services. As a marine services provider our focus is on delivering all the port and marine services to Abu Dhabi Ports. These include towage, pilotage, salvage, mooring, emergency response including oil recovery, rescue, bathymetric services and buoy maintenance. We also operate a sophisticated vessel tracking system monitoring all vessels using Abu Dhabi’s ports and waterways so as to maximise efficiency and safety.
“However, we are not limited to Abu Dhabi Ports. We serve other customers both within the region and beyond. Recently we have become involved in transhipment in Africa as well as in the UAE. So we are working on a number of fronts in the marine domain.”
In January 2019, Safeen took delivery of two Damen ASD Tugs 2411, following the signing of a contract just three months earlier at the Abu Dhabi Boat Show 2018 by Captain Banihammad and Pascal Slingerland, regional sales director for Damen Shipyards Group. “With Khalifa Port now one of the world’s fastest growing container, bulk cargo and roll-on, roll off vehicle transport ports,” continues Captain Banihammad, “Of the many thousands of vessel movements that occur at our ports, around six thousand require pilotage and towage services. These are generally for the largest vessels at our three largest ports.
Handling the largest vessels
“Safeen has a big fleet of vessels, made up of speed boats, pilot boats, survey boats, a buoy maintenance vessel and two oil spill recovery vessels, as well as our tugs. However, we need to have the resources in place to manage the very large container ships that will berth at the ADT and Cosco terminals, as well as the bulk carriers bringing in bauxite for Emirates Global Aluminium.
We have a plan to be ahead of Abu Dhabi Ports so that we are ready from day one to meet their needs as their service provider. The 70-tonnes of pulling power delivered by the ASD Tugs 2411 will enable us to handle our new visitors to Khalifa Port efficiently and safely.
“In particular, they need to be capable of bow-to-bow operations, something that we haven’t done before. Additionally, in some areas of the port we will need to deploy a small number of powerful tugs, whereas in others we can use a larger number of less powerful tugs.”
The two ASD Tugs 2411 will join three other Damen vessels already in the Safeen fleet; a Stan Tug 1907, named Ghayathi, delivered in 2018 and the Shoalbuster 2609 Al Maqtaa, delivered in 2016. The Al Shahama, a Damen Buoy Maintenance Vessel, built in 1994 in Abu Dhabi under the Damen Technical Cooperation programme, is also an active member of the Safeen fleet.
The three-month delivery timetable was made possible by Damen’s policy of building its most popular vessels for stock. The final outfitting of the ASD Tugs 2411 was done nearby at Damen Albwardy, in Sharjah, and so just needed to be finished to meet the requirements of Safeen before sailing for Khalifa Port. Albwardy Damen will continue to support the vessels with warranty and after-sales services. The ASD Tug 2411 is one of Damen’s most popular designs, with over 100 in operation around the world.
We’re very pleased that Abu Dhabi Ports has opted for our proven ASD Tug 2411 to support the Abu Dhabi Ports container terminals,
said Damen’s Pascal Slingerland.