HMAS Toowoomba (FFH 156) of the Royal Australian Navy, on Operation SLIPPER deployment, is presently on anti sea piracy mission off Somalia with CTF 151. During patrol, she has come across more than 120 dhows. Dhows are widely used for illegal trafficking and trade in the region.
HMAS Toowoomba, in her newsletter the Fearless Times (Volume I, Issue 2 dated September 01, 2009) has explained four recognized types of dhows that operate throughout Southwest Asia. They are: Shu’ai, Boum, Jelbut or Jalibut, and Sambuq.
Shu’ai: The most common dhow type is the Shu’ai. This vessel is often considered the workhorse of inshore waters and is primarily used for fishing and coastal trading operations. Typical sizes for these vessels range from 5 or 6 meters (m) (18 feet (ft)) to 15 m (50 ft) in length. The vessel has a distinctive profile, high and square at the stern, sweeping low towards the bow before rising to a characteristic pointed prow.
Boum: This dhow type commonly operates in the southern Arabian Gulf. These vessels are used as transport vessels for a variety of goods, to include: boxed or bagged items, tires, mechanical parts and agricultural products. A typical size range for this vessel is from 15 m (50 ft) to 35 m (115 ft) in length, with a maximum displacement of 400 tons. With a tapered stern, the Boum is more symmetrical in shape than the Shu’ai and has an imposing high prow. Identification features for this type of dhow include: both a stern and a sternpost and a yoke type steering gear with chains leading from the ends of the yoke to the vessels wheel.
Jelbut or Jalibut: This dhow type features a transom stern, with a short prowed stem piece rising vertically from the waterline, giving the vessel a rectangular bow profile. Jelbut size can range up to 15 m (50ft) in length. The flat stern of the Jelbut is an indication of foreign influence, compared to the typical Arab designed tapered stern. Historically, the Jelbut was used extensively as a pearling vessel, in addition to use in the trading and fishing.
Sambuq: The largest dhow type is the Sambuq, which incorporates design features from both Europe and India. These vessels are used exclusively to transport cargo throughout Southwest Asia and use port facilities to conduct cargo onload/offload operations. The Sambuq and other similar designs often have a square or transom stern, influenced by seventeenth century Portuguese galleons. Sambuqs are approximately 38 m (124 ft) long and can displace upwards of 500 tons.
Read full news letter from the Fearless Times as pdf.
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