Abu Dhabi Marine Services is extending its fleet of harbour and escort tugs as Khalifa Port adds a new container terminal
Safeen, the marine services arm of Abu Dhabi Ports, is ordering tug newbuildings to support new ports and terminals in the United Arab Emirates.
When Tug Technology & Business previously spoke with Safeen in Q3 2017, it operated a fleet of 12 tugs. This will rise to 14 tugboats and several pilot boats by the end of this year. Safeen expects this to grow to 19 tugs by the end of 2019, said acting chief marine services officer Adil Ahmed Banihammad.
He explained to TTB in an interview that the existing fleet includes mostly azimuthing stern drive tugs ranging from 20 tonnes to 75 tonnes of bollard pull. It also has one tug with Voith propulsion, three with conventional screw propulsion and a Shoalbuster for multipurpose activities such as pushing, towing and anchor handling in shallow water.
New tugs will be added with even greater performance as Safeen prepares to provide marine services to Abu Dhabi Ports’ expansion of Khalifa Port. This includes a container terminal that could manage ships up to Newcastlemax in size when the port opens in 2020, plus more capacity for dry bulk and liquid cargoes.
“We will be supplying towage, mooring, berthing, pilotage and marine maintenance in the port and vessel traffic services,” said Capt Banihammad. “We need to be ready with tugs and people before opening these new services.”
Safeen is the main provider of towage to ports in Abu Dhabi, but progress on harbour projects in the nation has led to rapid expansion in the last two years. Since Q3 2017, Safeen has added tugs for operations in Mussafah and Zayed portss, which will remain important services.
“We have two more tugs with 70 tonnes of bollard pull coming in 2019 and others in the pipeline”
Its next phase of tugboats will be purchased for servicing container terminals, managed by ADT/MSC and COSCO Shipping Ports, in the expanded Khalifa Port. “We have two more tugs with 70 tonnes of bollard pull coming in 2019 and others in the pipeline,” said Capt Banihammad.
In October, Safeen purchased two azimuth stern drive (ASD) tugs from Damen Shipyards Group. These ASD 2411 design tugs are being completed by Albwardy Damen shipyard in the UAE. They will operate in the two container terminals and assist ships full of bauxite cargo berthing at an aluminium smelter in Al Taweelah.
“We will ensure that we comply with the minimum requirements for the ships coming into Khalifa as some ships will need assistance from two tugs and sometimes three tugs will be needed to handle larger ships,” he said.
The expansion at Khalifa Port will add more container, bulk cargo and roro vehicle transport capacity. This project will add 1,000 m of quay wall to the port and deepen its main channel and basin to 18 m from the current 16 m. The new quay wall will add a further 600,000 m2 for cargo handling. Container ships of up to 20,000 TEU are expected to berth at the port from 2020.
“Khalifa Port is a strategic gateway for trade and freight into Abu Dhabi and throughout the wider region”
“Khalifa Port is a strategic gateway for trade and freight into Abu Dhabi and throughout the wider region,” said Capt Banihammad. “The average size of a vessel has grown by 65% due to economies of scale and we recognise the importance of equipping our ports with the right equipment and logistics to adapt to these changing demands.”
Capt Banihammad explained how Safeen chose the types of tug it needed to order for operations in the expanded port. “We looked at tugs that matched the type of vessels and draught available in Khalifa. We then looked at the area of operations, harbour master and port authority requirements and whether fire-fighting and other facilities were needed.”
Safeen will apply for licences to operate the tugs and masters in the terminals and harbour from the port authorities, and apply appropriate schedule management to maintain a full presence and prepare for the arrival and departure of different types of ships.
But, Safeen does not want to overcompensate for the requirements and have idle tugs. “We need to keep our tugs busy and to meet the requirements for increasing levels of traffic,” said Capt Banihammad.
Safeen is increasingly working with Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (Adnoc), providing towage services for offshore construction and maintenance projects and oil spill response. It is also responsible for providing response to marine emergencies and environmental incidents for the maritime authority.
“Our tugs have FiFi fire-fighting and other equipment, so we are capable of responding to an oil spill in one hour,” said Capt Banihammad. Safeen is also looking outside of the UAE for towage and marine services work. “We are working on some international projects that are in the pipeline,” he said.
Communications is an important aspect of tug operations in the UAE, which is why Safeen has kitted out its vessels with the latest VHF radio and iPads for masters. Port and vessel movement information can be stored and displayed on iPads so masters and pilots do not need to waste valuable time obtaining that over radio communications.
“Our tug masters and pilots can access information on new vessels, which makes it easier for them to concentrate on vessel movements,” said Capt Banihammad. Tugs can be linked to the intelligent port communications system and the Maqta Gateway digital platform Abu Dhabi Ports operates.
This digital platform is for exchanging information and improving transparency of port operations. Its customers, including cargo owners and shipping companies, can use Maqta Gateway’s port community system for managing shipments, export and import operations.
Maqta Gateway’s port community system supports intelligent maritime services across all aspects of port operations. Safeen’s inhouse application system, called MARSA, connects with Maqta Gateway. MARSA is a scheduling and operating management system for tracking and monitoring operations, maintenance and quality management.
In 2017, Safeen ordered and took delivery of two Yenicay-class 18.7-m ASD tugs from Sanmar, each with 32 tonnes of bollard pull. They were built to Robert Allan’s RAscal 1800 design of harbour tugs. These have two Caterpillar C32 main engines that each generates 969 kW of power at 1,800 rpm driving Veth VZ-900 azimuthing stern thrusters, pushing these tugs to a top speed of 12 knots.
Safeen began operating a new 19-m conventional twin screw vessel it purchased from Damen Shipyards early this year. This was built to a Damen Stan Tug design and has a bollard pull of 28 tonnes.
Adil Ahmed Banihammad has more than 25 years of experience in the marine and ports industry. He is the acting chief marine services officer in Abu Dhabi Ports and is actively involved in the Phase II extension of Khalifa Port. He is also in charge of Safeen, the marine services arm of Abu Dhabi Ports.
Previously, Capt Banihammad worked in various navigational companies in senior and executive management positions. He was the port officer in the Supreme Petroleum Council and then harbour master for overseeing petroleum ports in the UAE.
He joined Abu Dhabi Ports as chief harbour master in 2009. He has since developed and implemented regulations, ensuring that all ports in UAE are centrally managed and adhere to local laws and global conventions. Capt Banihammad is certified as an unlimited master mariner and has a high national diploma in nautical science from South Tyneside College in the UK.