Milestone in shipbuilding unveiled

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 February, 2010, 12:00am

The largest bulk vessel ever built in a shipyard in southern China stood berthed at a Longxue Island dock in Guangzhou for a naming ceremony yesterday that marked a milestone in the mainland's bulk shipping market and renewed hope for the sector.

The CSB Fortune, built in 21 months by CSSC Guangzhou Longxue Shipbuilding, is a 230,000 deadweight tonne vessel. Today it is expected to be delivered to China Shipping Development and sent on its maiden voyage to Australia, where it will pick up iron ore for mainland steel mills.

The vessel, which cost HK$625 million, is part of China Shipping's plan to tap the trade lane that carries the lion's share of imported iron ore to China - 600 million tonnes a year. The Fortune - which measures 325 metres in length, 52.5 metres in width and 24.3 metres in depth - is the first 'very large iron ore carrier' ( VLOC) of the 16 China Shipping has ordered from shipbuilders.

China Shipping has signed a 15-year contract to deliver iron ore for Beijing Shougang Steel.

China Shipping, the largest operator of coastal energy transport, plans to increase revenue from iron ore transport by teaming with mainland major steel mills, including China Shougang International Trade & Engineering Corp, Baosteel, Wugang Group and Beijing Shougang.

'I believe that the bulk shipping market will be better than last year,' said Li Shaode, the chairman of China Shipping. The company will take delivery of four VLOCs this year.

The completion of the giant ship may also be a turning point for Chinese shipyards, which saw new orders drop by more than 60 per cent amid the economic crisis last year.

Longxue, did not receive any new orders last year until November, when a mainland company ordered an 80,000 dwt bulk vessel.

It has outstanding orders for 20 vessels of which eight are from China Shipping.

The shipyard is to deliver eight vessels, with a total tonnage of 1.93 million dwt this year.