DSEI’17 special coverage, including News and assessments about the event was published in the 46th issue of MSI TDR. “ARES 150 HERCULES: Set to Break Records” titled interview of this special coverage is here:
One of the companies that had an intense schedule at the exhibition was ARES Shipyard. Despite his busy agenda, Kerim Kalafatoğlu, Chairman and Executive Director at ARES Shipyard, was kind enough to take the time to answer our questions.
MSI TDR: There are several recent topics we certainly would like to discuss with you; but first of all, could you tell us about ARES’ agenda at DSEI?
Kerim KALAFATOĞLU: The DSEI exhibition is one of the most prestigious defence industry events organised globally, and it has always been a source of excitement for ARES. We prepared for this year’s event with the same level of enthusiasm as before. Sure enough, our agenda focuses on military and semi-military ships across the world, and also on [users] which require these ships. However, there is one thing I particularly would like to emphasise: We’ve come here with a set of goals that isn’t just limited to promoting the features of our products and what we’re capable of doing. In fact, our products are already serving commendably in various countries around the world and in different locations. We’re in constant contact with each one of our customers; we never end our relationship with any of them, or interrupt our support. We’ve come to this exhibition not only to promote our products, but also to meet with our strategic partners, and to exchange ideas and draw road maps for the projects waiting for us in the coming period, which will be rather busy.
As ARES doesn’t have a static design portfolio, we never present our customers a standard catalogue that lists off-the-shelf products. Our product and business development strategy is entirely built on customer-orientation. So rather than offering our customer an “off-the-peg jacket”, and forcefully try to make it fit, we tailor one for our customer that is made-to-measure, so it fits perfectly. In this respect, I can say, with a certain pride, that we always have an endless range of solutions we can offer them.
MSI TDR: How does the exhibition affect your customer relations?
Kerim KALAFATOĞLU: We all know that contracts valued in the millions of liras aren’t just concluded in the limited three- or four-day time period of exhibitions. But it is at these events that we reinforce invaluable friendships and partnerships, create awareness and recognition, and turn friendships into partnerships. That was our goal at DSEI; and it is with great pleasure that I can say that we’ve been, in this respect, successful beyond our expectations. We greeted old and new friends at our stands, with an ever-prevailing cordial atmosphere. On the other hand, the working hours set by the organisers of the exhibition are such that we won’t have the time to carry out all the meetings we had hoped to. But we’re returning from London to Antalya with a heavy dossier filled to the brim, and it is clear that there is a very busy schedule waiting for us.
MSI TDR: With which delegations and companies do you plan to meet during the exhibition?
Kerim KALAFATOĞLU: We’ve a busy meeting programme with our strategic partners, as well as our current and potential project stakeholders. We’re meeting with companies such as ASELSAN, BMT Nigel Gee, MBDA, MTU and Rolls-Royce, with a view of ensuring team work in the projects we’ll be conducting in the coming period. In addition, we’ll also hold a number of separate meetings [with other organisations].
MSI TDR: What can you tell us about the projects or tenders you’re currently following?
Kerim KALAFATOĞLU: There are more than 10 tenders which we’re either actively following and preparing for, or for which we’ve already submitted our bids and are now waiting for the outcome. I won’t be able to mention some of these tenders due to military and commercial confidentiality concerns. On the other hand, I can proudly say that we’ve qualified for the tenders opened by the Royal Oman Police and Coast Guard Agency for high speed patrol boats, and that we’ve been officially invited by the Sultanate of Oman to take part in them. We’re preparing rapidly and effectively for these tenders. It’s my hope and wish that in 2017, we’ll continue to bring new projects to our country, as well as new employment opportunities and foreign currency revenues. I cannot provide any more detailed explanations at the moment; however, if we manage to receive the necessary permissions, which I hope will happen very soon, we’ll first share these new developments with MSI TDR.
On the other hand, the needs of the Turkish Naval Forces Command and Coast Guard Command always remain our main priority. Beyond meeting our financial targets, and in addition to earning foreign currency for Turkey, our biggest goal is to continue and increase the services we provide to the highly esteemed armed forces of our country. We’re always ready to support all projects of the Turkish Armed Forces, as far as our capacity allows us to. I also would like to take this opportunity to underline that we’re the strongest candidate for the Turkish Fast Patrol Boat Project, conducted by the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries to meet the Turkish Naval Forces Command’s needs.
MSI TDR: Since IDEF 2017, have there been any new developments concerning your projects and products that you would like to share with our readers?
Kerim KALAFATOĞLU: Although its product portfolio focuses on military and semi-military boats, ARES is also a company that has also gained a foothold in the market with commercial product solutions, built platforms, and performed successful deliveries. On the commercial side, it continues to produce competitive and indigenous solutions. We’ve eight luxury passenger ferries serving successfully in Qatar, which we had produced for a state-owned enterprise providing services in the tourism industry. In a similar segment, we’re also commencing the construction of a VIP Protocol Boat for Qatar’s Ministry of Transportation. This boat, which will have very advanced design characteristics and a high-quality built, is still at the design stage; however, it will begin receiving state dignitaries and high-ranking hosts in the waters of Doha starting from the summer of 2018.
MSI TDR: Could you tell us about the latest situation with the boats you’re constructing for Qatar’s Coast Guard Command?
Kerim KALAFATOĞLU: As you may already know, this project, which we won by competing against nearly 20 companies, involves the construction of 17 fast patrol boats, some of which we’ve already delivered. The 17 boats in question consist of five 24-metre ARES 75 HERCULES, ten 34-metre ARES 110 HERCULES, and two 48-metre ARES 150 HERCULES class boats. To date, we’ve completed the delivery of all ARES 75 HERCULES boats and of five ARES 110 HERCULES boats, which are now serving commendably.
By the end of 2017, we plan to deliver two more ARES 110 HERCULES and the first ARES 150 HERCULES. In what can be considered a rare occurrence in the shipbuilding industry, we’re currently moving one year ahead of the project schedule, and we expect to complete the whole project one-and-a-half year before the delivery deadline defined in the contract schedule.
Furthermore, upon our proposal and the request of the Qatar’s Coast Guard Command, we’re planning, in 2018, to equip all the HERCULES series ARES 24 HARPOON interceptor boats with ASELSAN’s 30 mm SMASH and 12.7 mm STAMP remote-controlled weapon stations and various electro-optic systems, in order to further enhance the capabilities of these platforms.
MSI TDR: Are there any members in your ship family that you’ve particularly highlighted in this exhibition?
Kerim KALAFATOĞLU: Although we’ve separately worked on each one of our solutions in a labour-intensive manner; any project we complete, as well as any ARES platform that we build and that serves successfully, is an infinite source of pride and delight for us. The ARES 110 HERCULES fast patrol boats we’re constructing for the Qatar Coast Guard Command were selected as the world’s best patrol boat in 2016. That’s why our platforms also tend to stand out just with their names. Moreover, the 48 metres long ARES 150 HERCULES, the largest member of the HERCULES family that we’re constructing for the Qatar Coast Guard Command, is also set to break two important records. First of all, this ship will become the largest composite hull military ship to have ever been built in Turkey. Secondly, with its speed of 37 nautical miles per hour, it is likely to become the world’s fastest offshore patrol vessel (OPV). We’re thinking about highlighting and crowning these achievements with a special hand-over ceremony.
MSI TDR: Is there anything you would like to add?
Kerim KALAFATOĞLU: I believe that at ARES, we’ve brought a new approach to the shipbuilding industry. We’re not just building ships with the most original designs, but also offer our users a vision. After we produce and deliver a product and complete our works, we don’t just turn our backs and forget about everything. We also stand as guarantors for the platforms we produce. We make contracts for maintenance and repair. In case there is any problem, we intervene within 24 hours to ensure it is resolved in the shortest time possible. We even supply materials to users with which we’ve signed maintenance contracts. In brief, ARES signifies a problem-free ship with a seamless life cycle. Until now we’ve delivered over 100 ships. None of them have been returned within the scope of their guarantee, or for any other reason. Engaging in production to meet the country’s needs, and working to represent Turkey in the best way possible around the world, ARES Shipyard also stands as a shipbuilder – and perhaps the only one in the world – capable of giving 20-year hull warranty for the ships it manufactures. With its young, dynamic and inquisitive team, as well as its innovative, different and creative solutions, ARES continues to build trust as it moves forward on the path to becoming the rising star of the Turkish and global shipbuilding industry.
I also would like to sincerely thank MSI TDR for your coverage of ARES, and for all the ways in which you’re contributing to raising our awareness and knowledge of the industry.
On behalf of our readers, we would like to thank Kerim Kalafatoğlu, Chairman and Executive Director at ARES Shipyard, for taking the time to answer our questions and providing us with valuable information.