Drydocks World Dubai's new Adratic base offers an easy reach for mega-yachts moored in and around bases in Europe. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: There is one aspect of Dubai’s DP World that everyone will agree upon - that it has not let anything get in the way when it comes to exploring opportunities far beyond its home base. DP World has taken on new port and free zone projects across continents, or rebuilt existing ones as the case may be.

This is a Dubai company that has stretched the boundaries of what its comfort zone should be.

The same now applies to a DP World group enterprise - Drydocks World Dubai, which recently took its skillsets of high-caliber ship repair and maintenance services into Europe. As part of an alliance with Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD), Drydocks World Dubai has planted its flag in the Adriatic, to take on work related to some of the biggest yachts that have taken to the high seas.

In an interview, Capt. Rado Antolovic, Chairman of the newly created Adriatic42 and CEO of Drydocks World Dubai, goes through the rationale of why it makes a whole lot of business sense to make this journey.

Is repair and maintenance of luxury yachts something of an unchartered territory for Drydocks World?

It is actually an area that Drydocks World has extensive experience in. We have experience in the repair and refit of cruise ships, as well as super- and luxury yachts at our Dubai base. To date, we have repaired and maintained 800 yachts including three of the world's largest yachts – one of which is 180 metres long.

We have been able to take our expertise from refitting cruise ships into the work we do for private yacht owners. For example, Drydocks World was responsible for the repair, maintenance, grit blasting, surface treatment and painting of the Queen Elizabeth II cruise ship during its conversion into a floating hotel.

Scaling that experience between cruise ships and yachts gives us an expert perspective that lead to our role in establishing Adriatic42.

It was last year DDW acquired the Montenegro yard. Is this a full ownership deal. Was the yard already one of the biggest in Europe?

The former Bijela Shipyard was established in 1927 and was the largest conventional repair and maintenance place in the southern Adriatic. Its special location, in Boka Bay, made it one of the safest natural harbours in the world. And its heritage has produced numerous maritime experts who overhauled a large number of ships.

Unfortunately, it was not fully operational during the last 15 years, which led to its complete closure.

Stock - Capt. Rado Antolovic, CEO of Dubai Drydocks World
"This part of the Mediterranean needed the ship and yacht overhaul sector to be revitalised and we are doing that in a modern and innovative way. This is exactly our task. On October 28, we officially launched Adriatic42 and it will reestablish the overhaul and yachting industry in Bijela in an innovative and sustainable way." - Capt. Rado Antolovic, Chairman of the newly created Adriatic42 and CEO of Drydocks World Dubai Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Behind Adriatic42 is a joint venture between PM Holdings llc, an Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD) company, and Drydocks World Dubai, a DP World company. Our goal is to transform this place into a premium super-yacht refit and maintenance facility.

Since the acquisition, has there been an expansion or new berths added?

Our investment is focusing on refurbishing existing infrastructure including new superstructure. We have great ambitions as we create the prerequisites for each of our clients to receive a world-class service.

To make this possible and with an investment of over 40 million euros so far, we have provided the best infrastructure including a multi-million next generation floating dock, which is a 180 metre long, 37 metre wide structure with the capacity to handle 10,000 ton cargo vessels. This allows it to accommodate the world's largest yachts with a travel lift of 720 tones.

The floating dock, travel lift as well as numerous other important investments, will provide clients with services such as docking and lifting of ships, works such as hydroblasting, painting and various mechanical repairs.

Your targets on new contracts for the yard?

The former Bijela Shipyard was not operational for years, and it functioned according to completely different principles, so we can't really make comparisons.

When we talk Adriatic42's targets, we are already making great strides. ‘The Black Pearl', the largest sailing yacht in the world, was recently at our floating dock under repair. This was a boost for all of us and proof that the joint venture standing behind Adriatic42 provides reliability and brings the trust of the most demanding clients.

When we talk about our first year of operation, our goal is to serve 27 super-yachts, and to increase the number to 109 within a period of five years.

Will there be a workforce increase? Do you plan to bring in new personnel from your Dubai operations?

Over 100 people are employed on the project, and our goal is to employ up to 200 people by 2023. We are working to ensure that numerous domestic experts from various fields get a chance to provide their expertise.

We know what kind of tradition the former Shipyard Bijela had and we want to use all the professional potential to jointly transform this place, return it to its former glory and position it on the map of modern, recognised and reliable locations for overhauling superyachts.

Also, we have already established cooperation with numerous domestic contractors, who will also be part of the project and have the opportunity to contribute. We have combined the vast experience of experts from Drydocks World - Dubai who have helped the local team in laying the foundations for business development and it is already bringing results.

Isn't it the case that when it comes to luxury yacht R&M, these tend to be done within regions where they tend to be anchored the most?

This is exactly why Adriatic42 is an ideal location. Just a few minutes away, yacht owners have a prestigious port for super-yachts - Porto Montenegro and now a place for world-class overhaul at Adriatic42.

PM Holdings llc is behind the prestigious yacht harbour at Porto Montenegro, which is owned by Investment Corporation of Dubai. For years, Porto Montenegro has been a one of the main destinations for the world's most famous yachts, and at the same time an ideal place for a longer stay, considering the luxury hotels and accommodation facilities.

This type of offer, at such a short distance, is definitely something that will make the Adriatic42 even more important in the yachting industry.

How many such yards are there globally? Most of them being in China?

Adriatic42 is a unique facility for the refit and maintenance of mega yachts. There are only few globally like this one, mostly in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe and the US. The southern part of the Adriatic is experiencing a full expansion of the yachting and tourism sectors, and Adriatic 42 will further position Montenegro on the global yachting map. Adriatic 42 is at the very beginning, and new phases of development will follow in the future.