Ved Sharan Chhabra

The Father of the Ship Repair Industry: Ved Sharan Chhabra

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Founder and Chairman | Inter Ocean Ship Repair LLC

The gist behind Inter Ocean Ship Repair Group’s long-standing success is that great achievements are usually achieved by those who face some profound challenges in their lives. Indeed, it is reality and not make-believe that Ved Sharan Chhabra had his share of obstacles to face and conquer.

Affectionately called Guru by the regional players in the field, he carries the sobriquet of Father of the Ship Repair Industry with the grace that comes with decades of market experience and finely honed expertise. As Chairman of the company, Ved has crafted a global reputation in the field of ship maintenance and repair, and one who could be trusted with getting the job done. One of the largest ship repair outfits in Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah, the group boasts a presence across all the UAE ports. 

Ved Sharan Chhabra Success Story

An Ocean of Determination 

Ved has earned his name in the Indian shipbuilding and repair industry as an individual whose entrepreneurship skills made him establish his business with its recognition in more than one continent spanning India and the Middle East. A quick glance into his life reveals the determination and tenacity he acquired to face challenges.

Though the veteran enjoys the recognition and success of being the trailblazer who crafted a special place in the marine industry today, it wasn’t always the case. A child of the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan, Ved was forced to flee from his home in Kot Mela Ram, Pakistan, and move to India. He had to learn to survive in a totally new place, and with no resources.

The premature death of his father at the hands of a mob left his family struggling to survive. Rising like a phoenix from the ashes, Ved battled circumstance, with each step in his growth trajectory bringing another ascension. Emerging as the lone man to earn a first-class certificate among his private batch at Punjab University, Ved followed up on this stellar achievement by acquiring a senior captaincy at the reputed Directorate of Marine Engineering Training (DMET) in 1952.

He later rose higher up the ranks, taking up a marine engineer position on sea-going vessels. Rising to the highest level as one of the youngest chief engineers in the Indian merchant navy, Ved’s inbuilt determination towards astute professional development and his inherent risk-taking ability aided him as he plunged into entrepreneurship by starting his own business, in a field he had trained for all his life. Thus did his career as an entrepreneur in the shipbuilding and repair industry start in India way back in 1967, seeing him establish the Bombay Marine Engineering Pvt. Ltd. in Bombay (now Mumbai). 

A Rising Tide 

It is truly an incredible success story as to how Ved started his business with no capital to support him in his venture – repairing ships of different nationalities arriving at Bombay port. With the conviction of strong human will, h is company soon earned a good name. One special recognition came to him when he repaired the most famous passenger ship – the 13 – deck Queen Elizabeth 2 (fondly referred to as QE2).

Indeed, it was a benchmark for the young entrepreneur. In 1976, Ved went on to become the first private entrepreneur to build and export the first sea-going vessel from India. His desire to further grow his core business led him to travel beyond India’s shores; it was at this time that his son graduated from the prestigious Boston University, which further became a motivational point to expand across seas and begin his business in the UAE, in Dubai in 1991. 

Creating an Oasis 

Today, Ved heads a group of companies in the shipbuilding and repair industry that enjoys a presence in India, in Mumbai (Mis Bombay Marine Engineering Works Pvt. Ltd.), and in the UAE in Dubai (Inter Ocean Ship Repairs LLC.), Fujairah (International Ship Repairs FZE), and in Ras Al Khaimah (EPC Emirates RAK LLC).

Not one to limit his growth, Ved channelled his industry prowess to extend service areas and innovated diligently to break into another domain – oil and gas (O&G). The group today offers large as well as highly professional and skilled manpower resources along with sizeable equipment and facilities to undertake repairs in its own well-equipped facilities – in dry dock or afloat at anchorage and for all types of ships.

The specialty includes engine repairs, ships equipment, hull, deck machineries and fittings, safety equipment, electrical and electronics, and dry docking, plus large steel renewal and surface coatings. In addition, the International Ship Repairs at Fujairah and EPC Emirates RAK LLC are involved primarily in repair within the O&G sector, as well as refurbishment of drilling rigs and supply vessels. Ved’s shrewd insight and skilled leadership helped pivot the conglomerate to the very top of the marine services industry. 

A Sustainable Workplace

Ved’s success is bolstered by the meticulous care given to each client and project under his leadership. While Inter Ocean faced its share of storms – by way of the ever-changing market and human factors, its leader’s mastery of the industry and scrupulous acclimatisation to UAE’s supportive business laws has placed itself in the privileged position of being fully secured and debt-free.

Unwavering during crises like the global Covid pandemic, Ved’s compassionate stewardship highlights the organisation’s attitude towards its employees; at the time, despite facing a lack of new projects, his attention was focused in delivering full compensation to his workforce. It is a factual sign that he has affection and confidence in his loyal team. Ved has accumulated numerous awards and accolades over the years for his in-depth industry knowledge and leadership, starting with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Contributions to the Maritime industry in 2007.

He then went on to the UAE Business Leader Award by the DMET Alumni UAE Chapter in 2010, the Asian Leadership Award in 2014, and the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Award in the Outstanding Category in 2015. His continued service to the UAE shipbuilding industry earned him a Lifetime Achievement Award for Maritime Services from lndywood Maritime Excellence Award, and his old alma mater, DMET’s UAE Chapter, in 2016.

Ved has also received multiple recognition from Forbes Middle East and has been ranked among the Top 100 Businessmen in the region for four consecutive years, in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. Not surprisingly, the year 2022 saw him conferred with an Honorary Doctorate for Excellence in the Maritime Industry by the Aries International Maritime Research Institute in the UAE, and Ecole Superieure Robert De Sorbon in France. 

The Man Himself

The group has recently launched a high-tech facility in Dubai Maritime City that brings the best and latest in modern assets, equipment, and teams of skilled professionals. Its tech-savvy nature is expected to deliver an advantage in turnaround time, superior control over resource mobilisation, transparent production monitoring, and client coordination.

A onestop, all-embracing workshop: it is poised to amplify current operations by providing faster access to sites and vessels. Ved gives credit to his family and his team for making him achieve his goals with no privileged past, or any financial inheritance.

His wife, Geeta Chhabra is his life anchor. A successful writer, poet and businesswoman, Geeta has been a dynamic partner by his side. He speaks with pride of his children – his son, Viresh and two daughters, Vibha and Vrinda who have successfully carved their paths in their respective career fields.

Ved sums up the purpose of his life when he says, “lnspite of what challenges life throws at you, it’s important to have the commitment, courage and conscience to realise your full potential. And when you can share your success with others and are able to reach out to those who are less fortunate, then only have you lived your life to the fullest. I feel blessed to be Iiving a full life. This is the golden period of my life.”