Tewaterlating in Korea.
South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) Co said today it was set to deliver the world's first vessel constructed on land instead of in a dry dock in what it claimed was a technical breakthrough.
The 105,000-tonne crude oil tanker, which was named NS Challenger today, will be handed over to Russia's Novoship tomorrow, HHI said.
The NS Challenger, some 244 metre long, was the first ship constructed using the new "on-ground build" method, the firm said.
Ships are usually built and assembled on a dry dock, a facility similar to a huge swimming pool without water. The dock is then filled up with water to float the ship and launch it into the sea.
"We have a three-year backlog and our nine dry docks are already fully booked while owners cannot wait for a long time to have their ships delivered," a spokesman for HHI said.
"This new method allows us to get around this problem and meet the increasing demand for new ships," he said.
The new technology will help HHI hold on to its status as the world's largest suipbuilder, he said.
He said the new method is less cost-efficient than the conventional dry-dock method but predicted that costs would come down gradually as building procedures were streamlined.
AdvertisementHHI plans to build 16 more vessels through the same method and deliver them by the end of 2007. They include 10 ships for Novoship, four for Teekay of the United States and two for QSC of Qatar.
HHI is seeking to acquire global patent rights for the on-ground method which was developed by making use of the technologies for building offshore structures.
As of December 25, the company had received orders for 104 vessels worth a total of $US8.3 billion ($A10.92 billion) in 2004 alone, up 22.1 per cent from 2003 in terms of value.
Other major shipbuilders in South Korea also reported booming business.
Samsung Heavy Industries received $US6.4 billion ($A8.42 billion) worth of orders in 2004, easily surpassing its target of $US3.5 billion ($A4.61 billion). Daewoo Shipbuilding Marine Engineering had $US6.54 billion ($A8.61 billion) in orders, up 54.6 per cent.
As a whole, South Korean shipyards, including small builders, received a total of some 15 milllion gross tonnes of orders, almost double the amount won by Japan.
South Korean shipyards have been shifting their focus toward high-tech, high value-added vessels such as LNG carriers and very large container carriers in order to keep their lead over up and coming Chinese competitors.