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Tsuneishi Shipbuilding eyes further international expansion

Tsuneishi Shipbuilding eyes further international expansion
Tsuneishi Shipbuilding’s new president Kenji Kawano has revealed that the Japanese group is studying further expanding of its international footprint by building a new yard in Southeast Asia.

Various locations are under study, with the new yard initially to carry out repairs on medium-sized vessels, and later possibly moving into the newbuilding arena as well, Kawano told Seatrade Global during an exclusive interview in London.

“Our overseas expansion is how we differ from all other Japanese shipbuilders,” the president stated. “We are the only group with more than one yard abroad capable of building vessels of 35,000 dwt and over, and that expansion process that began 25 years ago. Other [Japanese] companies are now thinking of doing the same, but we are ahead of them.”

Besides its main yard near Hiroshima in Japan, Tsuneishi has a fully owned yard in Zhoushan, China, as well as an 80% owned (the maximum permissible) facility in Cebu, the Philippines. Another 100%-owned small yard in Paraguay builds pusher boats and barges.

All these overseas arms employ the same ‘process management’ system as the parent yard in Japan to ensure on-time delivery, Kawano added, which together with Japanese quality standards provides an assurance for international clients. All the yards are full until H1 2017.

Tsuneishi’s product lines include dry bulk carriers up to 180,000dwt,

aframax tankers, 38,000 c um wood chip carriers and 1,100 teu feeder containerships. The single most popular vessel type is the 82,000 dwt kamsarmax - so named after port of Kamsar in Guinea with its 229 m length restriction for loading.

More than 200 kamsarmaxes have been delivered since the first unit in 2005, with the current fourth-generation version (since 2012) said to offer 20% better fuel efficiency than Tsuneishi’s comparable, but slightly smaller, panamax design of 1990. Further improvements are under study - using sea trials of a 1:10 scale model fitted with modifications - and a 40% saving over the 1990 level is predicted by 2020.

Kawano pledged that Tsuneishi would carry on researching eco-ship advances since “there’s no guarantee that oil prices will remain low”, as it will exclusive joint studies with Carnegie Mellon University of the US on robotic shipbuilding techniques.

Japanese shipbuilders have been hamstrung over the past two decades by the high value of the Yen, the president concluded - “but at today’s rate of Yen119 to one US dollar there’s a sense of relief, although we don’t know how long it will last.”

Tsuneishi is therefore seizing the moment to further expand international activities while the sun shines, one might say, all its yards currently enjoying full orderbooks until early 2017.