Choosing a Layup Site

Garry General Information
freight ship where to lay-up

Choosing a layup site

10 points to consider

With increased demand for layup activities in the maritime and oil & gas industries, it is important to understand which factors to consider when choosing a layup site.

Some factors could be game changers. It all depends on the particular circumstances of your vessel.

Listed below are 10 points to consider in choosing a lay-up site. We suggest you review the list to analyse which points are most important given your circumstances. A thorough analysis can help you decide the best layup location for your vessel.

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

The minimum requirements are for the site to be:

  • Approved and gazetted by state authorities,
  • Sheltered from open seas,
  • With minimal tidal currents,
  • A good holding ground for anchors, and
  • Outside of a typhoon/cyclone belt.

anchor alongside freight ship

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

Some lay-up locations are very remote. It can take a week’s sailing from far-flung locations to get back to major transport routes, such as those near Singapore. If your vessel is already in Singapore – i.e. it’s with Marine Layup Services – then that’s a week saved. 🙂

When bidding for a contract, you want to avoid a competitor ever being in a strategically better location. Hurdles such as extra travel time – along with the cost of logistics and transportation – could make all the difference.

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

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

Complex systems which need regular servicing include:

  • dynamic positioning,
  • boiler combustion control,
  • bridge equipment, and
  • other electronic control systems.

So, where are all these service technicians located?

When you’re operating in the South-East Asian region, the answer will most likely be ‘Singapore’.

Marine Layup Services prevents mobilisation delays because we’re close to Singapore and have access to local 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” actually 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 simply to visit the site base. Overlook this requirement at your peril. A quick visit to your laid up vessel could bring the wrath of immigration officials bearing down on you otherwise if you do not get the right visa.

Read more about visa requirements for Singapore (Immigration and Checkpoints Authority).

5) Is there convenient access to a dry dock?

Depending on how long a vessel stays in layup, 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 real cost of dry docking. A tow to dry dock can be expensive. What is the full 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 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, to say the least.

A lot of wharves and dry docks have entered this business as a sideline. If a company’s core business is not marine lay-up, then you really need to ask yourself what you’re getting for your money. These operators may not be doing the right thing, nor following 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 an extra level of protection and security (ask us about that here).

The best place to start checking is with the overall contract & professional indemnity insurance certificates. Make sure you’re fully covered.

Check that any specific needs and requirements are also covered in the documentation.

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 (such as the Malacca Straits) but unauthorised boardings are on the increase elsewhere. It pays to review details and assess risks with the operator.
  • Unauthorised equipment removal
    We recommend all valuables either be removed for shore storage, or locked-up on board. Photographs of items, along with a written inventory, should be included in the handover document. 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 own storage location. If gear is not on the vessel, it can’t be stolen from it.

8) Does the operator have long-term plans?

Unfortunately, some operators are in lay-up for the short-term. The quality of their service is questionable. There are lots of middlemen in this, our new industry.

Securing wharf space or going middleman for another operator – in order to make a middleman’s profit – is common practice.

To be sure, ask to see procedures, contracts and insurance certificates. If you are visiting a lay-up, ask to see the staff who will be doing the work. Shonky operators are easy to spot.

If a layup operator rents equipment (rather than owns it) this can easily 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 cost can increase exponentially as the amount of equipment increases. Again, if they rent their equipment, charges will be even more expensive.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to put two quotes side by side, to get a final price, without asking lots of 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?

This will vary depending upon the site.

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 layup services can accommodate complex tasks such as pipe repairs, painting and blasting. Others require extra effort when it comes to mobilising your vessel, perhaps due to the location. The same goes with floating cranes and site survey work. Equipment mobilisation costs are expensive, so understand your potential needs.

Also, it might be wise simply to check if you really need the work done. Is it possible to get it done? Who will do it and when?

Availability and costs should be factored into any lay-up site review.


When it comes to choosing a layup site, praemonitus praemunitus (Latin for ‘forewarned is forearmed’). 🙂

Speak to the experts.

MLS has the closest deep-water anchorage from Singapore and we’re confident we can meet all your needs.

Call us on +65 3159 1835

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