Home INTERVIEWS Kerim KALAFATOĞLU, Chairman of ARES Shipyard: “As long as we dream, we will continue to exist and build.”

Kerim KALAFATOĞLU, Chairman of ARES Shipyard: “As long as we dream, we will continue to exist and build.”

by MSI-stajyer

Ümit BAYRAKTAR / ubayraktar@milscint.com

ARES Shipyard, which has delivered a large number of ships in different categories for military and security applications for Turkey as well as friendly and allied countries and continues its projects at a high pace, has celebrated the 15th anniversary of its establishment on 6th of April. Kerim Kalafatoğlu Chairman of ARES Shipyard explained what the company has achieved in this 15-year period and how these achievements will shape the future of the company to the readers of MSI TDR.

MSI TDR: Mr. Kalafatoğlu, if we asked you to rank what ARES Shipyard has achieved in the past 15 years, what would you list in the top 3?

Kerim KALAFATOĞLU: I think what we achieved in the first years of our foundation deserves the first place. When we founded ARES Shipyard 15 years ago, the shipbuilding industry was experiencing its golden age in the world and especially in Turkey. At that time when the competition was at its peak, we proved ourselves in a very short period of time, just one year. We started mass production on sightseeing boats. In semi-military boats for security applications, we directly started exports with products aiming squarely for the end-users. These achievements are the roots, foundations and first source of investments of ARES Shipyard today.

This young company, which has taken its root from solid foundations, invested in personnel, management systems, facilities, infrastructures, innovative production technologies and R&D with every penny it earned. Thus, we specialized in military, security and commercial shipbuilding, especially on high-performance boats. In 2014, we succeeded in the largest export of naval vessels in the history of the Republic of Turkey at that time with a 17-ship contract signed with the Qatar Ministry of Interior. Although it is difficult to choose, I think this successful project will take its place in second place as a very important milestone.

When we get to third place, it’s much harder to choose. When we look at it, we have packed many successes in the past 5-6 years. Some of these successes include:

  • To be “The Fastest Growing Company in Turkey”,
  • To be selected as “World’s Best Patrol Boat Builder”,
  • To be selected as “World’s Best Offshore Patrol Vessel Designer and Builder”,
  • To carry out the first naval vessel exports from Turkey to the Sultanate of Oman,
  • To be the contractor of the world’s largest serial shipbuilding project in terms of number of boats to be built; the construction of a total of 122 boats for the Turkish Coast Guard Command (TCGC) and Turkish National Police (TNP).

However, I put the decision to develop Turkey’s first, world’s best and most capable Armed Unmanned Vessels with our own funds and of course succeeding in it to the third place.

ARES Shipyard has stepped into the field of unmanned vessels with the ULAQ product family.

MSI TDR: What would you like to say about the capabilities and added value that ARES Shipyard has brought to Turkey during this 15-year period?

Kerim KALAFATOĞLU: In fact, when we look at our achievements that I listed in the top three, the answers of this question become obvious.

First of all, we see that ARES Shipyard has introduced the concepts of institutionalisation, corporate culture and sustainability to the shipbuilding industry. Our people-oriented approach to both our employees and the end-user was also our new introduction to the industry.

We have created a lot of added value for our country with our personnel, management systems, innovative production technologies, investments in infrastructure and facilities. We can also include employment, export-based foreign exchange revenue, serial shipbuilding capability and creating a worldwide positive perception of Turkey’s shipbuilding capabilities in our contribution to Turkey.

Just like what we have done with Meteksan Defence, bringing new and advanced technologies to our country through the strategic partnerships we have established are among the important points as our contribution. Thus, in the field of unmanned marine systems, we have brought a world brand such as ULAQ to our country.

When we consider the shipbuilding industry in Turkey today, ARES Shipyard is at the top of the list in terms of institutionalisation and sustainability. Its areas of expertise, its infrastructures and capabilities in these areas together with the high-performance ships it has designed and manufactured are “unique”.

Unique in Turkey, Leader in the World

MSI TDR: What position has ARES Shipyard reached in Turkey today?

Kerim KALAFATOĞLU: When we consider the shipbuilding industry in Turkey today, ARES Shipyard is at the top of the list in terms of institutionalisation and sustainability. Its areas of expertise, its infrastructures and capabilities in these areas together with the high-performance ships it has designed and manufactured are “unique”.

ARES Shipyard will build a total of 122 ARES 35 FPB model boats for Turkish Coast Guard Command and Turkish National Police as part of the world’s largest mass shipbuilding project in terms of numbers of boats to be built.

MSI TDR: In your opinion, what is the position of ARES Shipyard in the world?

Kerim KALAFATOĞLU: When we look around the world, ARES Shipyard is recognized on every continent, its capabilities are very well known, and it is a shipyard providing technical or commercial consultation to others in almost every project. Since we often experience this, I state it without any hesitation.

ARES Shipyard has become the fastest growing company in Turkey in the Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies of Turkey list, compiled the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), which covered the period between 2012-2015. At the ceremony held on January 25, 2017, Yonca Kotiloğlu, Board Member of ARES Shipyard received the award presented by Nurettin Canikli, who was Deputy Prime Minister at the time and M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, President of TOBB.

When we make an unequivocal assessment, today ARES Shipyard is the largest composite and aluminium boat manufacturer in Europe based on production volume. Considering the 122-boat project for TCGC and TNP, covers only one fifth of our production capacity, what I want to say has become clearer.

With the ULAQ series of unmanned vessels, even being at the top of high-performance boat manufacturers worldwide, is now not enough for ARES Shipyard.

ARES 150 HERCULES is one of boats in the 17-boat contract ARES Shipyard signed with Qatar Ministry of Interior in 2014.

MSI TDR: Can you tell us about the latest status of your projects for defence and security applications in Turkey and abroad?

Kerim KALAFATOĞLU: The first one of our three ongoing projects, is the project for TCGC and TNP which covers 122 boats. The construction and production activities are progressing and we have launched the first ARES 35 FPB boat that is also a prototype. Internal quality control processes of the boat are still continuing. Starting from the second half of this year, we will deliver 6 boats in every 2 months.

Within the scope of project, which is Turkey’s first naval vessel export to the Sultanate of Oman we have successfully completed the delivery of the first 9 boats of 14 ARES 85 HERCULES Fast Patrol Boats. The delivery of the remaining 5 boats will be completed by early 2022. With its full length of 26 m, this model is the world’s fastest boat in its class. There is no other boat in this class matching its speed of 55 knots.

ARES 70 HARPOON is one of the platforms developed by ARES Shipyard for divergent needs.

On the other hand, the production and testing activities of SIDA, the prototype of the ULAQ series which is Turkey’s first Armed Unmanned Surface Vessel, and the Coast Control Station SAKİ has been successfully completed.  ULAQ AUSV will be fully operational with the completion of guided missile firing test planned to be carried out in May. When it comes to other members of the product family, the design activities for different operational concepts such as intelligence, electronic warfare, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), mine countermeasures, fire-fighting are progressing rapidly. In 2021, we plan to complete the production of another unmanned vessel with different capabilities.

When it comes to other members of the ULAQ product family, ARES Shipyard and Meteksan Defence, the design activities of unmanned vessels with different operational concepts such as intelligence, electronic warfare, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), mine countermeasures, fire-fighting are continuing rapidly.

Although we have to restrict our travels due to the epidemic, our business development activities are carried out uninterrupted. Also, we have at least three projects that we are looking forward to announce in 2021. I hope we will share the good news with you very soon.

ARES Shipyard has successfully completed the delivery of the first 9 boats within the scope of project, which is Turkey’s first naval vessel export to the Sultanate of Oman and includes 14 ARES 85 HERCULES Fast Patrol Boats. The delivery of the remaining 5 boats will be completed by early 2022.

ARES Shipyard has successfully completed the delivery of the first 9 boats within the scope of project, which is Turkey’s first naval vessel export to the Sultanate of Oman and includes 14 ARES 85 HERCULES Fast Patrol Boats. The delivery of the remaining 5 boats will be completed by early 2022.

With the completion of the guided missile firing test planned to be carried out in May, ULAQ AUSV will be fully operational.

Family Company That Never Gives a Break on its way to Institutionalization

MSI TDR: One of the things that keeps companies up and running for many years is their corporate structure. What would you like to say about the corporate development of ARES Shipyard?

Kerim KALAFATOĞLU: We founded ARES Shipyard 15 years ago as a family business. After 15 years, we, as all founding members, we are still in charge of our business in terms of strategic decision-making, including investment and R&D. I have previously emphasized our most significant achievements in the scope of capabilities we have introduced to Turkey; institutionalization, corporate culture and sustainability. These concepts have always been our priority paving the way, for our production and exports to be continuous. With every penny we earned, we have made investments to personnel, infrastructure and innovative manufacturing technologies.

Institutionalization has always been one of our most important priorities since our foundation. However, institutionalization is a long-term process that requires time and effort. In this field, we are progressing with steady steps especially in the last 5 years. We are constantly upgrading ourselves; we constantly supervise and question ourselves with our professional management staff. We are trying to be open-minded in our management processes; keeping a candid communication with our staff at all levels.

I’m very pleased to say that we have come a long way. However, you would appreciate that institutionalization is not a fixed goal to be reached. It is a live process that evolves and changes constantly. You can never say that “Yes, we did it, we’re now institutionalized!” The companies to claim to succeed in institutionalization take part in the organization management textbooks as poor examples. Therefore, we have to keep our attitude open to change all the time. It does not bother us, indeed we actually enjoy it.

Although we have to restrict our travels due to the epidemic, our business development activities are carried out uninterrupted. Also, we have at least three projects that we are looking forward to announce in 2021. I hope we will share the good news with you very soon.

MSI TDR: When you think about the future, what challenges stand in the way of ARES Shipyard?

Kerim KALAFATOĞLU: I believe that we are working very well on every detail in our risk management processes and our strategies in this regard. Therefore, when we handle the issue either on the basis of the sector in general or competition in within the sector, we anticipate the challenges prior to stepping into a new market or a product range. We begin our activities with strategies that suit them.

Of course, this question is a topic by itself for a separate and much longer interview. Briefly and without entering into specific details, I would like to express that we are constantly looking to develop innovative solutions with our design innovations, products and infrastructure. This gives us the opportunity to directly challenge rather than respond to challenges. Let me give you a couple of examples about our research, development and investment activities in many areas such as unmanned systems, applications of hybrid power technologies on manned ships, distinctive product designs that allow the use of alternative fuels such as hydrogen, mass production technologies aiming to minimize human error in production.

ARES 125 FAMB fast attack boat is one of ARES Shipyard’s designs that unplights its innovative approach. Ares 125 FAMB stands out for its speed exceeding 40knots, low radar and infrared signature and guided projectile carrying capacity.

However, it is of course impossible to predict all kinds of risks. In such cases, we benefit from adapting quickly to changing conditions thanks to our structure employing young staff and collaborative management system. Unfortunately, we see the most recent example of this unpredictable risk with the epidemic that has caused severe global crise. Despite all kinds of restrictions, we have continued to carry out our activities uninterrupted thanks to our adaptive structure. I hope this period would be temporary for all of us and we get through it as soon as possible with good health.

We are constantly looking to develop innovative solutions with our design innovations, products and infrastructure. This gives us the opportunity to directly challenge rather than respond to challenges.

Goals not Keeping Up with the Trends but Creating the Trends

MSI TDR: We would like to ask your predictions about the future of ARES Shipyard. What kind of ARES Shipyard do you dream of 10 years later?

Kerim KALAFATOĞLU: I’ve always given the same advice to my family, my close friends and my colleagues that “You can achieve as much as you dream of, you live as much as you can dream of.” All the achievements we talked about today were just dreams in the past. But they were all our dreams. We dreamed all these achievements.

You might have also noticed this in the posts of 15th anniversary of ARES Shipyard. ARES Shipyard says that “As long as we dream, we will continue to exist and build.”

So, we keep dreaming. After ten years from now, on our 25th anniversary we dream of working with an automation-based management and automation-based production infrastructure and dehumanizing completely all the platforms we design and build regardless of their size. I’m hoping this independent of the markets we serve by including military and commercial markets as well as luxurious yacht market. We set these goals not with the prediction that the trend will follow this direction, but to create trends. ARES Shipyard will be a company that continue to directly challenge not respond to challenges.

We keep dreaming. After ten years from now, on our 25th anniversary we dream of working with an automation-based management and automation-based production infrastructure and dehumanizing completely all the platforms we design and build regardless of their size.

From left to right: Ersan Kotiloğlu, Board Member; Kerim Kalafatoğlu, Chairman; Yonca Kotiloğlu, Board Member; and Mert Kalafatoğlu Vice Chairman of ARES Shipyard

MSI TDR: Are there any other topics you’d like to add?

Kerim KALAFATOĞLU: Thank you very much to MSI Magazine for this warm interview and meaningful questions. This interview meant a lot for us, as ARES managers and employees for the 15th birthday of ARES Shipyard. I would like to announce that we have many more good news for our country in the short run and I wish you healthy days and success in your publications.

We would like to thank Kerim Kalafatoğlu, ARES Shipyard Chairman, for taking the time to answer our questions and provide information on behalf of our readers.

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