Israel Shipyards – Beyond Defence
Customised design and uncompromising quality are the hallmarks of Israel Shipyards Ltd, one of the largest shipbuilding facilities in the eastern Mediterranean.
Israel Shipyards was founded in 1959 as a government-owned company, to provide for the needs of the recently born Israeli Navy and to increase employment opportunities in the northern region of Israel. Over its first decades, the company built dozens of Naval and civilian vessels, focusing solely on the Israeli market.
In 1995, the company was privatised and started to look further afield, to include overseas clients with a focus on the African, Latin American and south-east Asia markets. The successful business growth has recently culminated in Israel Shipyards’ completing an IPO through its parent company, Israel Shipyards Industries.
Today the company is an internationally recognised builder of top-quality naval vessels for customers around the world, continuously developing its portfolio to offer new designs in response to the challenges of the maritime environment. Its manufacturing and repair plant is spread over 330,000 sq. metres with 45,000 sq. metres of under-roof facilities and a wharf length of 1,000 metres.
Of the company’s 400 staff, a large proportion are engineers to support current projects and new vessel development. “In-house development is one of our strengths. Many of our engineers are ex-Navy, reflecting their extensive experience in product development, with outstanding results,” affirms Vice President Marketing Mr Oded Breier.
Driven by experience
Israel Shipyards Ltd. (ISL) has gained an international reputation for the design and construction of combat-proven naval craft, which have protected Israel’s long coastline for decades. These same ISL vessels are being purchased by other nations who want to secure the best marine defence available.
Mr Breier explains that Israel Shipyards offers two main classes of vessels – the first is the SHALDAG Fast Patrol Craft (FPC), a family of vessels ranging from 25 to 33 metres in length, made of aluminium and propelled by waterjets, designed for interdicting illegal activities in the maritime domain such as piracy, terrorism, and illegal trafficking.
The second is the Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) class, ranging from 45 to 72 metres in length. “This class can conduct a wide range of missions such as Search and Rescue (SAR) operations, EEZ monitoring, and inspect IUU (illegal unregulated unreported) fishing,” explains Mr Breier, adding that these vessels can accommodate numerous weapon systems, EW systems and some even have light marine helicopters which can help to extend the range of operation.
If required, these solutions are offered with comprehensive Transfer of Technology (ToT) programmes that enable customers to use local labour, infrastructure, and resources as well as create extended independence from the domestic industry. The ToT is conducted upon demand and based on current capabilities, and the programmes are adjusted as required up to a full-scale ToT including training of engineers and the workforce, and provision of the required infrastructure for vessel building and maintenance.
Tailor-made to suit
Israel Shipyards’ competitive advantage is based on its wide-ranging experience, both technical – with regards to its history – as well as operational. Most of the team, specifically the engineers and managers, are ex-Israeli Navy with thousands of sailing hours logged in the dedicated operation of naval vessels. This accumulated experience enables the company to deliver turn-key projects to customers’ specifications and demands.
Mr Breier says: “Unlike most of our competitors, where what you see is what you get, our projects are tailored to the customer’s requirements from the weapons suite and machinery systems up to the number of bunk beds and the kitchen equipment mounted on the vessel. In addition to this, as part of our involvement in the Israeli defence community, our projects are equipped with state-of-the-art Israeli combat systems making them into the most mission-ready and cost-effective vessels.”
Over the decades, Israel Shipyards has developed a solid track record. Recent projects include four SHALDAG MK II vessels delivered to the Argentinian coast guard, and the delivery of the offshore patrol vessel (OPV) 62 for the Honduras Navy in which the Honduran team sailed alongside the Israeli team in the maiden voyage from Israel to Honduras across the Atlantic Ocean. Just recently, the company has completed a comprehensive project for the Senegalese Navy, delivering three SHALDAG MK II and one additional SHALDAG MK V.
Mr Breier affirms that product development does not only reflect the latest technological advancements but also strives to follow the recent IMO regulations, and focus on reducing the carbon footprint is high. This focus is reflected in the recently developed SAAR S-72, a new generation of a multi-mission vessel, that utilises hybrid propulsion, automatically switching to diesel-only upon acceleration, which significantly reduces the use of fossil fuel.
Looking to the future
While Covid-19 had, in the beginning, affected the company like most businesses around the world, the pandemic was taken as an opportunity to focus on internal improvement. Today, Israel Shipyards work within a Covid-19 routine with about 92% of the workforce already vaccinated and is looking to the future.
“Our facility is now fully utilised. The next step will be to share the capability with our customers within the ToT projects. A lot of countries are looking to develop their own competence, sometimes from scratch, and this is something we can help them with. We have recently completed a major ToT project in Asia and are in the process of implementing another one for a different customer. This will take some of our load in terms of production,” Mr Breier points out.
“As a shipyard, we have recently started market research to determine what our future designs should be. In addition, we are exploring new markets such as HLS and para-military vessels which could help increase the brand expansion of our current vessels.”
Speaking about the longer-term future, Mr Breier affirms that Israel Shipyards will remain one of the most stable organisations in the Israeli economy, with a view to recruiting dozens of new employees to meet growing demand and to continue to provide the high quality that has won the company such a sound international reputation.