Chinese shipyards build more sophisticated offshore vessels

Aft deck of one of two accommodation vessels built by Guangzhou Mangtong Shipbuilding Aft deck of one of two accommodation vessels built by Guangzhou Mangtong Shipbuilding

APRIL 3, 2015—The recent downturn in shipbuilding has hurt Chinese shipyards, watching the country tumble from being the world’s top shipbuilder to number three behind Korea and Japan.

Over the last two years, the number of Chinese shipyards has dropped from about 3,000 in 2012 to about 1,600, according to the China Association of the National Shipbuilding Industry. Symbolic of the struggles are the fortunes of China Rongsheng Heavy Industries Group Holdings Ltd., which recently reported its third consecutive loss amid cancelled ship orders. China Rongsheng Heavy Industries Group Holdings Ltd. is trying to survive by selling its core shipbuilding and offshore engineering businesses to a Chinese investor to focus on the energy sector. Further consolidation in the Chinese shipbuilding industry seems unavoidable.

However, the Chinese shipyards that do survive will emerge stronger. And partnerships could see the improvement of the technical level and construction efficiency, as well as the building of more value-added ships. For example, the recent announcement by Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise ship operator, and Fincantieri, one of the world’s largest shipbuilding groups, could see cruise ships built in China.

More sophisticated offshore support vessels are already under construction in China. Privately held Guangzhou Hangtong Shipbuilding in Southern China, for instance, is constructing an 83.6m by 22m construction and accommodation vessel, a sister ship to one already working and under contract in Mexico.

Designed with a four-way mooring system, deck crane, and a large clear after deck, the construction and accommodation vessel is well outfitted for marine construction work. The large exhaust stack for all engines, main and auxiliary, is mounted on the port side to allow for ease of crane work over the starboard side. This also allows space on the starboard side for a Zhejiang Hengxin Ship Equipment (HXN) rescue boat and davit. A pair of large HXN enclosed lifeboats are also mounted port and starboard.

The multi-decked superstructure is located well forward and provides accommodation in a variety of rooms for up to 200 people. A mess hall and galley suitable for this number is also located in the deckhouse.

The bridge is outfitted with all the latest in controls to provide operational status on the two Cummins QSK60-M main engines as well as the three Cummins KTA38-DM-powered electrical generators.  The wheelhouse also has an extensive suite of navigational instruments. In addition to the forward console, an aft set of controls allows for safe use of the cranes and other construction utilities while giving the operator a clear view of the after working deck.

The large engine room space is located amidships in the 7.2-meter-deep hull. The three Cummins-powered 590 kW generator sets provide for the extensive electrical needs of the accommodation block as well as the deck cranes, bow thrusters and active stabilizers designed for the comfort of personnel. The twin Cummins QSK60-M main engines each produce 2,200 horsepower at 1,800 rev/min and turn fixed-pitch propellers through Twin Disc MGX5600 gears with 5.76:1 reduction. One of the two main engines has a fire pump linked to the front of the engine with a power take-off.

According to Stephen Qin, the Assistant General Manager and Senior Sales Manager at GMG International Shipbuilding & Trading Co. Ltd. (GSHI), the shipyard delivered eight vessels, including a 5,500 dwt tanker, last year. As of March 2015, the shipyard had four more vessels ready for delivery and another 37 under construction or on order.

Typical of the sort of complex vessels that they have ready for delivery was the Jascon 68, a 5,000+ hp, 70-meter anchor handling vessel. Located on an upper deck, as is the class requirement, a 80 kW Cummins-powered emergency generator set stood ready should there be a catastrophic failure in the engine room.

The shipyard was just starting the construction of a 69.5 by 38-meter liftboat. Classed ABS, self-elevating unit, the liftboat will have four 91.5-meter tall legs and be able to jack itself up at a rate of 0.8-meters per minute. The molded depth of the hull will be 5.8 meters.

The platform, with four electrically controlled cylindrical legs, can offer jack-up support to drilling rigs, The liftboat can provide economical transportation with a capacity of up to 1,400 tons.

The power to operate this lifting force is provided by four Cummins KTA50-DM1-powered generator sets. These produce 1,000 kW of electrical power each. They also provide power for a wide range of electrical demands, including a 600 kW bow thruster and two cranes, on this complex vessel. The cranes, manufactured by SCM, include one capable of lifting 20 tons at 33-meter boom length and another that can lift up to 190 tons with a 40-meter boom length. Propulsion, at up to six knots, is provided by a pair of Kawasaki 1,700 kW Z-pellers.

Accommodation is provided for 150 people in a range of single, double and four-man rooms. Four deck-mounted 20-ton mooring winches will be installed. There will also be a helideck suitable for a Sikorsky S92N or S61 model.  Deck space will be 1100 square meters capable of supporting loads up to 1200 tons. The vessel will also be equipped with a Cummins KTA19-powered 400 kW emergency generator set.

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