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Naval Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Middle East Conference

Maintaining, modernizing ships vital for navies, coast guards to meet new challenges

The IQPC (International Quality & Productivity Center) Naval Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Middle East conference, held June 3-4 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), brought together professionals from around the world to share ideas on how to keep ships ready and combat capable.

In his opening remarks as the chairman of the conference, Rear Adm. (Ret.) Ahmed Al Sabab Al Teneiji, former chief of Naval Forces, UAE, said that MRO is growing in importance as navies seek to preserve their investment in ships and equipment, reduce the time required for repairs, reduce spare parts inventories, and help ships achieve their full service life.

“We need to modernize our equipment to meet new challenges,” Al Teneiji said.  “We’re always looking for new solutions so our ships are always ready.”

According to conference producer Michael Champion of IQPC, the event is the only one of its kind in the Middle East. “There has been a bulge in ship purchases and naval ship building in the last six to seven years, especially in the Arabian Gulf, so the logisticians, engineers, and maintenance guys in the region really appreciated a conference dedicated to the increased workload they’re taking on.”

Portuguese Navy Capt. Bento M. Domingues, Deputy Director, Ships Directorate, said the presentations provided much food for thought. He said most cell phones don’t last four years, but we expect our ships to last 40. “The conference and the presentations were an opportunity to ponder about the future; take the broader perspective, and be reminded to ‘think outside the box.'”

“Over 50 delegates attended from the UAE Navy, UAE Critical Infrastructure & Coastal Protection Authority [CICPA], UAE coast guard, and Saudi Border Guard, and they were led by senior officers in charge of logistics, maintenance, and warehousing; that gave us the regional end-user dimension,” Champion said. “Then we were fortunate to have participation from the leading local companies in shipbuilding, systems integration, and maintenance, like Etihad Ship Building, Abu Dhabi Ship Building, and Abu Dhabi Systems Integration, as well as the newly established TASNEEF Emirates Classification Society.”

Champion characterized the delegates in attendance as “fantastic, relevant, diverse, and expert.”

USN Capt. Glen Leverette, MRO

Capt. Glen Leverette is responsible for logistics support and repair of U.S. Navy and Military Sealift Command ships in the 5th Fleet area area of operations. He lectured on U.S. NAVCENT’s operations structure in handling naval maintenance for the 5th Fleet and highlighting best practice that could be transferrable to navies in this region. Photo courtesy of Capt. Edward H. Lundquist, USN (Ret.)

“There was an outstanding contribution from international experts, ranging from senior flag officers to those with operational expertise, from countries are far afield as USA, Portugal, Netherlands, Italy, and Vietnam,” Champion said. “We’ve had great feedback, particularly because this very disparate audience was able to compare its maintenance processes with an expert international set. We saw navy/coast guard perspectives set against how industry can assist. Many of the delegates told me that the conference was beneficial, not in terms of learning new practices, but in reassuring them that their existing processes were shared in large by organizations throughout the world.”

Presentations covered all aspects of the life of a ship, from design to disposal.

Commander Arie Schaap, Weapon System Manager, Landing Platform Docks and Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment for the Royal Netherlands Navy, talked about the Dutch experience in acquiring new ships, and how they designed and built their ships with total ownership costs in mind.

“There’s never enough attention paid to life cycle costs,” said Schaap. “The best opportunity for life cycle cost savings is early in conception definition phase.”

Lt. Cmdr. Ehab A. Alshareef of the General Directorate of Border Guards, Ministry of the Interior, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, explained the challenges of monitoring a 3,500 kilometer maritime border on the Arabian Gulf and Red Sea. Alshareef said the Border Guards use contractor logistics support (CLS) and a computerized maintenance management system to support their 11 different vessel classes.

Rashed Al Hebsi, CEO, TASNEEF Emirates Classification Society, said it was challenging to keep all stakeholders aligned with advancing technology. “How do you ensure your naval customers are aware of emerging technologies and standards?”

Terma has a presence here in the Middle East, and the naval market is very important to us,” said Lars Hedemann Jensen, Terma’s vice president for integrated logistics in the company’s defense and security division. “This conference allowed us to meet with people who are concerned about naval and coast guard ships and systems from cradle to grave, not just fixing them when they break.”

Terma’s Middle East Regional Manager David Adgill Larsen agreed with Jensen. “I was impressed by the presentations from around the world, and the commitment these maritime forces have made to ensure ships and systems are designed and built to last; and have systems in place to ensure that repairs and spare parts inventories are effectively managed.”

Sponsors and exhibitors included Abu Dhabi Ship Building, Etihad Ship Building, Abu Dhabi Systems Integration, Rohde & Schwarz, Tasneef Emirates Classification Society, SAAB, and Damen Defence & Security.

Portuguese Navy Capt. Bento M. Domingues, Deputy Director, Ships Directorate, said the presentations provided much food for thought. He said most cell phones don’t last four years, but we expect our ships to last 40. “The conference and the presentations were an opportunity to ponder about the future; take the broader perspective, and be reminded to ‘think outside the box.'”

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Capt. Edward H. Lundquist, U.S. Navy (Ret.) is a senior-level communications professional with more than...