Thursday, May 28, 2015

Israeli Navy ships made in Germany by a company headquartered in Beirut and Abu Dhabi?

Every now and then, globalization reminds me of the Mel Brooks movie Spaceballs intro scene, complete with the bumper sticker We brake for nobody.

A less artsy and more bizzy statement would be something about intricate, complex global supply chains. 
Except that the image of a chain, the nicely structured, neatly linked and dependable mental artifact tends to look more like spaghetti in real life. Only MBA porn and PowerPoint slides cling to the well defined order in chaos.

We stumbled upon another cute military globalization anecdote.  Our first one, somewhere on this blog, told of the surprise appearance of Cold War Soviet Union trucks at a NATO military installation for a delivery of wood. Turns out, most of the wood was for target practice, so the whole thing sorted itself out.

Today's global supply chain episode is more delicate because it involves a German shipyard, the Israeli Navy and a company headquartered in Beirut and Abu Dhabi.

You may know that Germany has been a reliable provider of ships to the Israeli Navy, and there is another deal in the works, this time not for submarines but for surface vessels according to this newspaper article from Northern Germany.

German shipbuilding, like other nations' maritime hardware shops, has suffered from mostly Asian competition, and acquisitions, mergers, sell-offs and insolvency are all too familiar concepts in the remaining ship building companies.

To make a long story short, one of the German ship builders ended up in the hands of a Middle Eastern holding company, the one with HQs in Beirut and Abu Dhabi. With the new owners came a new name for the shipyard: Abu Dhabi Mar.

Only four years after the renaming ceremony, another renaming event was held, and now the shipyard is called German Naval Yards. The official reason for the name change was that it better reflects the new (or renewed) focus of the yard on military vessels.

The paper reports that the real reason for the name change lies in a deal that would see this shipyard build the hulls for up to four corvettes for the Israeli Navy. Although only a subcontractor, the paper says that the name Abu Dhabi Mar did not appeal to the client navy.

Closing the loop with Spaceballs, it is understandable that the bumper sticker Abu Dhabi Mar might not look great, so a more neutral company name was adopted.

Everybody was happy with the change, except the guys who had to paint over the name ADM atop the huge crane that is visible seemingly forever in the northern German flatlands.

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