Team Shipping Company (TSC) is a Dubai-based, family-owned and operated ship owning company founded in 2000 by two brothers, Esmail and Mohammad Reza Afshar Sadeghi. “Our father owned a shipyard during the 1970s in the Southern part of Iran which was destroyed during the eight years war between Iran and Iraq, so my brother and I decided to take advantage of his vast experience and know how to start again the same business,” begins Mohammad Reza.
“Our first vessel was the MV Poya, a 3000 BHP maintenance and supply vessel, which was acquired in 2001 and is still in operation today. The second vessel TSC Nadia was purchased in 2003 and converted into a maintenance vessel with onboard accommodation and a crane in 2004. Several years later, as Dubai started constructing its artificial islands, we steered the business toward shallow draft vessels and the first was built in 2006. It was sold to one of the leading dredging companies whilst it was still on the cradle.”
Demand for TSC’s services has remained consistently high ever since, with a difficult period during 2009 being the exception. A young fleet of tugs, workboats and multicats has been a major factor in this success. Seven out of its 11 boats are less than three years old and it has always been company policy to ensure it acquires new vessels yearly. In the last year, for example, it has acquired two new vessels. “TSC Bastoor was designed and built in conjunction with Al Bwardy Marine Engineering, based in Jaddaf / Dubai,” says Mohammad Reza about the first of the new vessels. “The project took around eight months to complete and since the day of delivery it has been a very successful vessel. Its capability to operate in extremely shallow draft areas has secured it with constant employment. Moreover, during construction, we paid special attention in making sure it has all the adequate pieces of equipment for working in local projects.”
He goes on to talk about the second boat: “It is a Damen-built tug, purchased because we needed a higher bollard pull tug to complement our range. The boat was initially ordered by another company but later cancelled because it was unable to arrange for finance, so the tug was readily available to us. We quickly took ownership and since delivery it has been busy in Abu Dhabi. Of course, Damen vessels are more expensive than similar type of vessels built in South East Asia but they have an excellent reputation among our clients for their reliability, performance and fuel efficiency.“
The fleet is managed entirely in-house and now features many shallow draft workboats to meet the demands of a local market. Therefore, it frequently sees business in the Middle East. TSC’s high quality of management and modern vessels mean that its main competitors are European, but location means that European companies employed in the Middle East often require additional mobilisation charges. This gives TSC a major advantage in its local area and, given the huge amount of activity in the UAE and neighbouring regions at the moment, business has been excellent.
It doesn’t come without challenges though, as Mohammed Reza highlights: “Our biggest challenge is with new governmental and administrative requirements, particularly for visas, medical tests, work permits and security passes. It is a very time consuming process that sometimes affects the entire project, as vessels can’t start the work unless all the formalities are fully completed. Another challenge is that many of the oil and gas majors operating in the Gulf demand a high standard of documentation on board the vessels that even some of our very experienced crew fail to maintain. It is undeniable that they want to improve the standards of course but it is very difficult in this sector because workboats often work 24 hours a day with a limited number of crew on board; the crew are tired by the end of their shift and have difficulty completing the paperwork correctly.”
Nonetheless, TSC’s shore based team has worked closely with crew and authorities to ensure that work continues and at the quality that it has become known for. Alongside ownership and management of its own fleet, the company also handles port agency for its clients in Dubai and Jebel Ali, as well as minor management duties on behalf of other offshore supply vessel owners that are operating in the area but have no branches or office.
This has helped secure excellent business for the company since its establishment. Following from an unpredictable 2009 – particularly the first half of the year when its clients suffered from a drought of contracts and took up to six months retrieving older projects that had been put on hold – business since 2010 has once again been growing. The volume of business during 2011 saw it emerge as a record year for TSC and with the market continuing to grow, Mohammad Reza is looking forward to the next few years.
“We intend to keep a young fleet so it is essential to our business that we acquire at least one newbuild per year, enabling us to sell off older units every five or six years,” he says. “This is especially true for multicats because the nature of the jobs they do means they exhaust much faster than other types of offshore support vessels. We are currently in negotiations with Damen to develop new multicats suitable for our area, in fact, because if we want to work with the oil majors then our boats must be less than ten years old.
“TSC is now preparing for 2013. We have had a lot of enquiries for projects that are set to begin in 2013 and 2014, so we are very optimistic. We will also continue concentrating on delivering the best service possible by maintaining a very young fleet. TSC is a family business and as in any family run business, we hope we have started and built a solid foundation for the next generation so when the time comes, they will take over and proudly continue a tradition of honest and trustworthy business.”
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