UAE-based Drydocks World, part of the DP World Group, has played a key role in Dubai’s growth story, becoming a hub for the maritime industry in the Middle East. With 340 completed projects a year on average and a record of handling 42 refurbishment projects simultaneously, the yard has garnered numerous awards and accolades during its 39-year history thanks to its state-of-the-art facilities, innovative know-how and efficiency.
In a new project, the company is exporting its considerable expertise and resources to Montenegro to transform and redevelop the site of the former Bijela Shipyard, located in the UNESCO-protected Kotor Bay, into a superyacht service, maintenance, repair and refit facility. The project, a joint venture between Drydocks World and Porto Montenegro, operating under the name Adriatic42, is also expected to foster growth in the local economy.
“Drydocks World is an open-minded company that is always looking for ways to grow and expand,” says Captain Rado Antolović, CEO of Drydocks World. “Our main goal in this project is to make Bijela recognised as a location where mega- and superyachts can receive premium service which will, without doubt, change the economic and tourist situation in Montenegro.”
Established in 1927, the Bijela Shipyard was the biggest ship repair yard in the southern Adriatic before it fell into financial difficulties due to the economic sanctions imposed during the Balkan conflict in the 1990s. It is situated in one of the world’s safest natural harbours with a centuries-long shipbuilding and maritime tradition.
“Our aim is for many local experts from various fields to get their opportunity and give their expert contribution. We know what tradition the Bijela Shipyard had, and we want to use all the professional potential and jointly transform this place and return it to its former glory,” explains Antolović, who also sits as the chairman of Adriatic42’s board of directors.
In addition to the yacht service centre, the project plans to establish a skills academy at Bijela to develop future generations of Montenegrin marine engineers.
So far Adriatic42 has invested €40 million (US$39.8 million) in the project. “Such an important project implies the best possible equipment. That is why we have procured a 180-metre floating dock, which is 37 metres wide, with 10,000-ton lifting capacity, allowing it to accommodate the world’s largest yachts. Also, in addition to the dock and numerous other investments, we have procured a new 720-ton capacity travel lift, the largest in the region,” Antolović says.
The floating dock, which arrived in Montenegro in June, was ordered from Turkey’s Hat-San Shipyard and the travel lift from Italian company Cimolai Technology.
According to Antolović, Adriatic42 is committed to completing phase 1 of the development – which includes the testing of all existing infrastructure, integrity analysis, works on anchor points for the floating dock, construction of a travel hoist jetty, rehabilitation of the yard’s South Jetty and rehabilitation and refurbishment of existing superstructure – by the end of the year, at which time the new shipyard will begin operating and accepting yachts for service.
He adds that special attention will be paid to environmental protection. “As part of the DP World Group, which is aimed at decarbonisation by 2050, we are committed to reducing harmful emissions,” he says. “We will do this primarily through the smart use of alternative energy sources, while the new and more modern equipment will allow a more energy efficient way to do our business.
“Also, we are strongly committed to developing policies for managing the protection of health, safety, environment and quality, which will be in line with national requirements but also with strict international standards.”
During the first operational year of the shipyard, Adriatic42 will aim to repair 14 superyachts, which will increase to 109 repairs in the fifth year. Starting with 35 workers in the first operational year, the facility will grow to 300 to 400 workers in the fifth year of operations, with the majority of the work force recruited from the local area in Tivat.
“It is a facility that will certainly transform Montenegro’s position on the global yachting map, which is highlighted in the support we have received from Montenegrin President Milo Đukanović and Montenegrin Prime Minister Dritan Abazović, who recognise the significance of the project,” Antolović concludes.