Choosing a Layup Site

Marine Layup Services - Layup Anchorage in Asia
Layup Anchorage in Asia

For lay-up activities in maritime and oil & gas industries, it is good to fully understand which factors to consider when choosing a lay-up site. Some elements could be game changers. However, it all depends on your vessel’s particular circumstances and disposition. Therefore, we suggest you review the list to analyse which issues are most important to you, given your current position. A thorough analysis can help you determine the best lay-up location for your vessel.

10 points to consider

1) Does the lay-up site location meet the minimum requirements for a layup?

The minimum requirements for the site are:
  1. Approved and gazetted by state authorities.
  2. Sheltered from open seas.
  3. Minimal tidal currents.
  4. A good holding ground for anchors.
  5. Outside of a typhoon or cyclone belt.
Marine Layup Services - Cold Layup on Europe
Cold Layup on Europe

2) Is the layup location close to major shipping routes, so the vessel can quickly re-enter service

Some lay-up locations are very remote. It can take a week’s sailing from far-flung places to get back to major transport routes. Towing vessels is sometimes required, and this adds time and costs. When bidding for a contract, you want to avoid a competitor ever being in a strategically better location. Hurdles such as extra travel time and the cost of logistics and transportation could make all the difference.

3) Is your vessel close to a central maritime hub for speedier support and service

When reactivation time comes, you’ll most likely need some assistance.

Complex systems which need regular servicing include:

  • Dynamic positioning.
  • Boiler combustion control.
  • Bridge equipment.
  • Other electronic control systems.

So, where are all these service technicians located?

For example, operating in the South-East Asian region, the answer will likely be in Singapore. Marine Layup Services can prevent mobilisation delays because we’re close to major port hubs and can access local service technicians around the clock.

4) Is there fast and easy access for inspections

Review and assess what transport and logistics options are available for site visits. Some supposedly “quick visits” require multiple flight legs or two-night stopovers while inspections are underway. Getting in and out on the same day (without a stopover) saves time and money. Visa requirements also vary between countries.

Sometimes a visa is needed to visit the site base.

5) Is there convenient access to a dry dock

Depending on how long a vessel stays laid up or where it is in the survey cycle when it enters layup, the first stop may be a dry dock. It pays to know the actual cost of dry docking. A tow to a dry dock can be expensive. What is the total cost to reactivate your vessel? It adds up quicker than you think. When calculating the bill, don’t forget to include items such as:

  • airfares,
  • accommodation,
  • fuel,
  • food, and
  • other supplies.

Do you put your vessel in a dry dock and send most of the crew home? Or do you keep the crew on salary instead? Sometimes sending them home is the cheaper option.

6) Is the operator experienced and reputable

Unfortunately, some operators are in it for the short term. The outcome in such cases may be disappointing. Many wharves and dry docks have entered this business as a sideline. If a company’s core business is not marine lay-up, you need to ask yourself what you’re getting for your money. These operators may not be doing the right thing or following the correct procedures. Ask to look at procedure manuals. Speak directly with the person in charge of doing the actual work. Make sure that the quality of the contract is clear and above board when choosing a layup site. Also, take a close look at dispute-resolution processes.

The old attitude of all care and no responsibility is still with us in too many cases.

7) Are there security concerns

After all, you are handing the keys of your vessel to someone else. Reputable lay-up businesses are willing to go the extra mile. Marine Layup Services adds additional protection and security. The best place to start checking is with the overall contract & insurance certificates. Make sure you’re fully covered. In addition, checking documentation will provide a greater level of comfort.

A couple of things worth noting:

Unauthorised boarding for the intent of robbery or theft.
  • Trends are changing rapidly. Authorities have clamped down in some areas, but unauthorised boardings are increasing elsewhere. It pays to review details and assess risks with the operator.
Unauthorised equipment removal
  • We recommend removing valuables for shore storage or locking up onboard. The handover document should include photographs of items and a written inventory. Onshore storage will ideally have full-time security staff or, at the very least, be in a reputable location or country. Consider sending valuable equipment to your company’s storage location. Removing valuables means they will not go missing.

8) Does the operator have long-term plans

Unfortunately, and as mentioned previously, some operators are in lay-up for the short-term. The quality of their service is questionable. There are lots of middlemen in this industry. Securing wharf space or going through an intermediary for another operator – to make a middleman’s profit – is standard practice. To be sure, ask to see procedures, contracts and insurance certificates. If you are visiting a lay-up, ask to see the staff doing the work. Shoddy operators are easy to spot. If a layup operator rents equipment (rather than owns it), this can quickly increase reactivation time. Keep an eye out for red flags like this.

9) Is the service expensive

Some layup operators offer a simple pricing schedule. Others hide the total cost until the last minute. Too often, you only get to find out what the damage is when it comes time to sign the paperwork. Another trap is the cost plus scenario, whereby the indicative cost is calculated per piece of rental equipment. Using this method, the total price can increase exponentially as the number of equipment increases. Again, if they rent their equipment, charges will be even more expensive. Unfortunately, putting two quotes side by side is hard to get a final price without asking many questions. Keep asking until you find answers. If you don’t get clarity, find someone else.

10) Can the lay-up operator undertake additional work

Location services vary. Some sites can provide heavy fuel oil (HFO) – some can’t.

The same is true when it comes to emptying bilge-holding tanks or pumping out sewage tanks. Where is the water going? Is the activity compliant with environmental regulations?

Some lay-up services can accommodate complex tasks such as pipe repairs, painting and blasting. Others require extra effort when mobilising your vessel, perhaps due to the location. The same goes for floating cranes and site survey work. Equipment mobilisation costs are expensive, so understand your potential needs. Also, checking if you need the work done might be wise. Is it possible to get it done? Who will do it and when? Availability and costs need consideration in any lay-up site review.


When choosing a layup site, praemonitus praemunires (Latin for ‘forewarned is forearmed). Speak to the experts. MLS has several anchorages and wharves globally, and we’re confident we can meet your needs.

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