MAY 30, 2012 — Japanese shipbuilders Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) and Imabari Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. have signed a technological collaboration agreement on containerships. They aim to combine MHI's technological capabilities in the development of energy-saving vessels, and Imabari's strong cost competitiveness to compete in the international shipbuilding market. By utilizing both companies' shipyards, they will be able to flexibly accommodate orders for multiple ships of the same design.
The three-year collaboration agreement, which may be extended, covers all container carriers, without setting limits on container carrying capacity or propulsion systems. For business opportunities relating to container carrier construction, the two companies will exhaustively consider the appropriate ship type, propulsion system and other technological features to match the shipowner's needs, and propose the optimum solution.
Given the current trend toward adoption rules for reducing environmental burdens, coupled with continuing fuel price escalation, demand by shipowners for more energy-saving vessels is increasing significantly.
Many large containerships are now powered by diesel engines buring heavy oil fuel, which emits much more CO2 than other fuel types. In response MHI has developed alternate technologies including the use of LNG as fuel and the Mitsubishi Air Lubrication System (MALS)ir bubbles to reduce frictional resistance between a vessel hull and seawater.
MHI is recognized as a pioneer in Japan's container carrier construction industry, completing the Hakone-maru, the first Japanese-built container ship, for Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK Line) in 1968. To date MHI has built 147 container carriers in total (including vessels currently under construction).
Imabari Shipbuilding is Japan's largest shipbuilder, both in newbuilding tonnage and shipbuilding sales. The company is one of only a few dedicated shipbuilding companies capable of constructing large-size container carriers.
The two companies' active exploration for demand in the newbuilding market, will include "proactively conducting a variety of proposal-type business development activities."