Delivering the goods

There are few in the international shipping industry that can boast a successful history dating back to the 18th century, but Henry Abram & Sons is the exception. Originally founded in 1899 as Henry Abram Ltd, the company’s expertise in ship ownership and management dates back to the 1780s where its foundation in expert engineering and marine transportation services was formed. As a market leader within its niche, the organisation has developed a reputation for the efficient and reliable transit of complex, specialist cargoes around the world. With its highly versatile skills being predominantly employed by the oil and gas, heavy lift and offshore industries, Henry Abram & Sons is also highly proficient in the fields of project management, marine engineering consultancy, ship brokering and ship delivery, as well as having a wide portfolio of equipment and barges available for charter.

“We are extremely specialised at what we do and many of our clients are involved in the offshore arena,” Michael Abram, managing director of the company explains. “The cargoes we ship are one-off items designated for specific projects within the offshore industry and our involvement tends to be with the five or six major offshore oil service companies based in this area that look to exploit and develop upcoming fields. Our primary function is in the engineering and transportation of steel structures from the fabricators to the installation site and our naval architecture and marine engineering expertise ensures we guarantee safety at a competitive price. As a family-owned entity our dedication is second to none and we thrive on the skills and knowledge of our diverse staff base.”

Indeed, the company’s specialisation within this unique field can be held responsible for its recent and impressive attainment of a £85 million contract with BAE Systems Surface Ships Ltd. Accountable for the engineering, project management and shipping of the hulls and superstructures of two aircraft carriers capable of holding 40 aircraft each, Henry Abram & Sons will manage the transport of large construction blocks and unit component parts from nominated fabrication yards based around the UK. While the Royal Navy represents the end customer, the organisation is working predominantly with BAE Systems, a long-standing contractor to the MoD.

Awarded in December 2009, this contract has had massive implications for the company including the employment of further naval architects, structural engineers, design engineers and graduates, and the subsequent installation of a dedicated project team. As a relatively small entity in the market, the organisation approached this opportunity by forming and heading up a consortium and is working closely with its partners Malin Marine Consultants Ltd, Anchor Marine Transportation Ltd and Abnormal Load Engineering Ltd for the safe and successful delivery of all cargoes to the Rosyth integration yard.

“An enormous amount of time and effort was spent on the tender and it is fair to say that at the peak of the tender process everyone in the office was involved; such hard work and dedication by the team helped us to secure the work in December 2009. Since then our operations have extended considerably and we have worked hard to ensure that this project doesn’t pull resources away from the other areas of our business, while still receiving the utmost attention and experience. The large blocks we are transporting range from 9500 to 12,250 tonnes in weight, thus requiring the best we have to offer in engineering proficiency,” Michael notes.

April 2010 saw the successful delivery of the first barge shipment, with two bow sections weighing 376Te and 185Te being loaded in Appledore, Bideford and arriving safely at Rosyth to schedule. Smaller sections are constantly in transit, while the first main section of 9500 tonnes is due for delivery in July 2011 and so the process will go on until all of the ship’s blocks and unit components have reached their final destination in 2015. While the principle of operation remains the same for Henry Abram & Sons, the enormous scale of this project has seen it grow in recognition throughout the industry.

Michael contemplates the company’s future: “I have worked in the industry for 30 years and this contract is the icing on the cake of my career. Our proven track record is very important to us and this is an unrivalled introduction to potential clients, especially those in emerging markets. The nuclear, wind, tidal and offshore industries represent huge opportunities for us in the future especially with regards to the transportation of steel construction components such as wind turbines or even the dismantling of end-of-life rigs. We pride ourselves on continuity and close working relationships with project managers who require our historical expertise for the safe loading, safe shipping and safe discharging of ships and barges, while we are constantly raising our game to meet emerging needs. With increased activity in the North Sea and a growing portfolio of references, there is no question of us taking our eye off the ball.”

Experience dating back to 1780s

£85 million contract with BAE Systems Surface Ships Ltd

Looking to emerging markets for further growth