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A Brief Survey of
The Occasion of the Inauguration
of the ASRY Drydock

Dec. 15, 1977

Special Supplement to OAPEC News Bulletin Vol.3. No.12 Dec. 1977


Board of Directors

State of Bahrain

Mr.Majid El-Jeshi (Chairman)

Republic of Iraq

Mr.Awni Shaker

State of Kuwait

Mr. Fuad El-Shaiji

Socialist People’s Libyan
Arab Jamahiriya

Mr. Faraj Sultan

State of Qatar

Mr.Khattab El Dafe

United Arab Emirates

Mr.Nasir Al Sharhan

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Mr. Mohammed Ajaj

Under the auspices of His Highness the Emir of Bahrain , Sheikh Issa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa, the State of Bahrain and the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries will inaugurate the drydock of the Arab Shipbuilding and Repair Yard Co.(ASRY) in Bahrain on Dec. 15, 1977. The inaugural ceremony, timed to coincide with Bahrain’s National Day, will be attended by Arab oil ministers, members of the diplomatic corps in Bahrain, and Arab and foreign dignitaries.

Establishment of ASRY

Soon after the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries was established, in 1968, the founding members sponsored a feasibility study on establishing a ship repair yard for very large crude carriers (VLOCs) in the Arabian Gulf. The possibility of establishing such a project was then

investigated in depth, with many of the internationally known shipbuilders and repairers involved in the study. Interesting facts in support of the project soon began to emerge. The most important of these was that due to the closure of the Suez Canal the most economic way to transport Arabian Gulf oil to world markets was in VLCCs. These ships, of 175,000 dwt capacity and upwards, were designed to circumnavigate the Cape of Good Hope for deliveries to the West and, of course, the normal rout to the Far East, the length and beam of these ships was such that there were very few drydocks in the world which could accommodate them. In fact, there were no drydocks between Portugal and the Arabian Gulf of closer to the Gulf than Singapore for ships trading with Japan.

Another important factor that contributed to the decision by the OAPEC countries tp proceed with a VLCC repair yard was that the Arabian Gulf in the best location in the world in terms of confluence of VLCC tankers.
Most of these ships have to come to the Arabian Gulf to load, and with a fleet of about 800 such ships afloat this would mean about 4,000 to 5,000 voyages per year to the Arabian Gulf by VLCCs the highest incidence of specific traffic for any class of vessel in the world.

A further contributing factor was the strategic location for a repair facility at the loading port rather than the discharge port because, following the ballast voyage, the vessel would be virtually gas free on arrival in the

loading area and thus suitable to enter a drydock, whereas at the discharge end of the voyage the vessel would require 5 to 10 days to gas free in order to enter a ship repair yard. Some repair yards accept vessels in a gas up condition, but this is not a common practice among VLCC yards and has been dictated by the extremely depressed market conditions in ship repairing.

Also, a ship repair yard was deemed essential for meeting the demands of the growing Arab tanker fleet, which in 1977 reached a total capacity of around 10 million dwt.

Aside from these factors, the construction of a drydock in the Arabian Gulf was expected to provide the following benefits for the participating countries :

- Investment of oil money for social and economic development.

- Realization of cooperation and economic integration through joint ventures.

- Provision of training opportunities for nationals.

- Creation of skilled and specialized Arab manpower.

- Provision of opportunity for commercial profit.

- Realization of cooperation between the oil exporting and industrialized countries through services for VLCCs.

- Promotion of the social and economic development of Bahrain through the broadening of its economic base and the diversification of its sources of national income.

In June 1970 the Council of Ministers decided to carry out a study for determining the best location for the drydock, taking into consideration the geographical location, depth of water and availability of manpower.

The study suggested that Bahrain met the criteria and was the best site on which to locate the drydock. On that basis, the Council of Ministers agreed during a meeting in March 1972 to build the drydock in Bahrain.
Bids for contracts were then tendered, and the Portuguese firm Lisnave won the contract
for the management of the project.

The Agreement establishing the Arab Shipbuilding and Repair Yard Co. was signed on Dec. 8. 1973. Following its ratification by participating countries, the Council of Ministers convened on November 30, 1974, as the Constituent General Asembly of ASRY and declared the Company established. On that same day, His Highness Sheikh Issa Bin-Salman Al-Khalifa, the Emir of Bahrain, laid the cornerstone of the Arab Shipbuilding and Repair Yard project.


In the early stages of the project, the ASRY managers had to contend with the paucity of skilled labor, housing, escalating cost of equipment and so forth. But these obstacles were largely overcome, and construction was able to finish on schedule.

The dock was flooded for the first time on May 15, 1977. The dock gate arrived in September and on October 3 the dock received its first tanker, the 231.000 dwt Italian-owned "Ambrosiana". ASRY’s docking program till the end of the year is almost completely filled by VLCCs, with firm bookings committed from : the "Texaco Japan" (265.000 dwt), the "Stavros G.Livanos " (350.000 dwt), the "Mobil Magnolia" (270.000 dwt), the "Tina Livanos" (350.000 dwt) and two VLCCs owned by ESSO. During next year the dock will accommodate 40 VLCCs.

Before operations can begin at the repair yard, a vessel is guided along the deep water channel leading to the dock by tugs and then positioned above the blocks. After the dock gate has been closed and sealed, water is pumped out as the ship is carefully settled on the blocks, specially arranged before each docking to suit the vessel’s bottom. If no vessel is present the three centrifugal pumps of the floating tank cleaning station. "White Beach", can empty the dock in three-and-a-half hours, and in less time if a VLCC is being docked.


Member State

No.of shares


U.S. $

Saudi Arabia
























Libyan Jamahiriya




Subscribed Capital




The Site

The shipyard occupies some 50 hectares of land relaimed from the sea off the island of Muharraq, approximately 10 km. south of Bahrain International Airport. The chosen site is located at the southern extremity of the tidal reef forming the eastern boundary of an inlet known as the Khor Al-Qalaia. At that location the natural water depth is in excess of
12 m., more than adequate for the largest vessel to be accommodated at

ASRY. To the south and west the site is bounded by the navigation channel which connects Mina Salman, the commercial port of Bahrain, with the deep water area known as Port Sitrah, wherein are located the tanker berths serving the BAPCO refinery and the jetty of ALBA aluminum smelter.

The Drydock’s Characteristics

The dock walls are of reinforced concrete cantilever design. The coping section acts as a gallery for fluids and electrical services and is specially shaped to accommodate the hauling-in trolley, travelling access platform and front bogies of dockside cranes.

Study of permeability test results led to the adoption of a "drained design" wherein hydrostatic uplift forces on walls and floor arising from tidal water pressure are maintained at an acceptable value by a system of underfloor pipes laid open-jointed within filter layers of crushed rock and connecting to electrically operated pumps in the main dock pumphouse. A cut-off wall of steel sheet piling, driven into the top of the bedrock around to wall footings and across the entrance sill, serves to reduce the flow of water to the underflooe drains.

Principal Characteristics of Drydock





Sill Level

9.0m below Datum

Floor Level

10.0m below Datum (average)

Dewatering Time

3.0 hours (approx.)
without vessel - 3 pumps


100t and 15t

The reinforced concrete floor slab is founded directly on the natural sands, although those have for the most part been excavated to a depth of 2m. and have then been reinstated by compacting in layers to achieve appropriate density.

The dock pumphouse is also of reinforced concrete construction and measures 50m. x. 24m The main dewatering pumps, three in number, are vertically mounted single stage with concrete volute and syphon discharge.
In addition to those pumps, the pumphouse accommodates pumps for the underfloor drainage, fire fighting, general service water and ballast water.
The layout of the pumphouse has been so arranged as to facilitate connection to a second drydock should this at some future date be built alongside the first.

Maritime Works

The import quay and small craft wharves have a total length of 470m. They are supported on piles of 1m. diameter and up to 25m. long drilled into bedrock. The piles are of reinforced concrete cast in-situ. For most of their lengh they were cast within light gauge steel casings. Those casings have been retained in the permanent work. Deck structures are of reinforced concrete with in-situ beams surmounted by composite precast/insitu slabs.

The two finger jetties, 107m. long x 21m, are piled as the quay and wharves but have decks wholly of in-situ reinforced concrete. Jetty and quay fittings include quick release mooring hooks of capacities of up to 400 tonnes, bollards of up to 150 tonnes and high capacity cylindrical rubber fenders.

To complete the berthing facilities a box caisson is located off the seaward end of both jetties. Those caissons are of reinforced concrete cellular design. They are being built within the drydock whence they will be towed to their final position and founded on a prepared bed of crushed rock.

Dredged depth alongside all berths, as well as in the approaches and manoauvering areas, is 10m. below Port Datum.


The Shipyard has over 30,000 m2. of heavy workshops and a further 15,000m2 of buildings to cater for the administrative, amenity and social requirements of ASRY. All workshops are of steel-framed construction with infill blockwork or insulated cladding. The administrative and social buildings are fully air-conditioned and the workshops and stores have been designed to exclude direct sunlight and encourage natural ventilation to provide good working conditions during the hot seasons.

The workshops are supported on piles of the driven cast in place type founded in the sands. Other buildings have conventional footings supported on compacted sand.

Tracks for the traveling electric portal cranes are also supported on driven cast in place piles located in pairs at 3m. centers. Those piles, too, are founded in the sands.

Roads, parking areas and outdoor work areas occupy more than 250,000m2. These are of asphaltic concrete laid over a compacted granular sub-base obtained from local dredging.

A network of floodlight masts, each 50m. high, ensures that those paved areas, and indeed the complete yard, are adequately illuminated to permit all activities to continue during the hours of darkness.

Electrical power to the shipyard is provided by the Bahrain State Electricity Department from its new power station at Sitrah, located on the opposite side of the navigation channel to Mina Salman from ASRY. Twin submarine cables located in a dredged trench were laid across the channel to bring power direct to the site. Transmission is at 66 KV to a sub-station near the ASRY site where there is a step down to 11 KV for distribution within the yard. More than 100 km. of underground cable duct have been laid to permit the installation of cables between ASRY’s 11 sub-stations and the various facilities they serve both in the initial phase and in any future development without disruption of roads and work areas. To cater for ASRY’s initial fresh water demand a desalination plant with a capacity of 500 tonnes per day is provided, as well as 6.000 storage reservoir.

Foul sewage within the yard is transported by a series of air-operated ejectors to a treatment plant near the eastern boundary.

An acetylene generating plant, compressed air station and storage vessels for liquid oxygen complete the services installations at the yard.


ASRY has sought to help overcome the shortage of skilled labor in Bahrain by the creation of a technical training school. Thus far, 165 trainees have graduated from the school, while another 25 trainees are currently undergoing training. Since the ASRY training school will be unable to meet the great demand for technicians, particularly during the Yard’s first years of operation, some trainees will have to be sent abroad and the labor force supplemented with foreign manpower. ASRY’s labor force now numbers 878 and is expected to reach 1,100 by 1978.

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