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  • 2020 November 11

    Sergey Marichev, head of Ship Repair Center “Zvyozdochka”, about operation amid import substitution, pandemic and sanctions

    Sergey Marichev, General Director of Ship Repair Center “Zvyozdochka” JSC, tells IAA PortNews about the company’s activities, import substitution and operation amid the pandemic and sanctions against Russia.

    - Mr. Marichev, Zvyozdochka is involved in construction of a platform under the Kamennomysskoye-Sea project. Could you, please tell about it: the task, the terms and the way to ship the modules from the company’s facilities?

    - Yes, Zvyozdochka has once again been involved in construction of facilities for production of hydrocarbons. The reputation gained in this field has lead to selection of the company as contractor. For some time the customer was considering different variants of building an ice-resistant platform LSP “A” for the above mentioned field. Among them was a turn-key construction by Severodvinsk based facilities and implementation of this ambitious and sophisticated project through application of a 'distributed shipyard' principle. Deployment of Severodvinsk facilities alone was supported by a number of factors including the capacity of their water areas allowing for mitigation of logistic risks and expertise accumulated by Zvyozdochka and Sevmash in construction of technology-intensive offshore facilities. As confirmed by successful operation of the Prirazlomnaya and Arkticheskaya facilities built in Severodvinsk, our shipbuilders are good at work not limited by construction and repair of submarines. As it was already mentioned, the key highlight is the local production facility in Severodvinsk where challenging projects on construction of civil marine equipment can be implemented.

    Having hesitated for a while, having weighed all the pros and cons, considered the risks and estimated the time needed for construction, the customer, Krasnoyarskgazprom Neftegazproject, opted for the latter variant. According to customer’s decision, the support structure will be built by facilities located in Astrakhan, Kaliningrad and Severodvinsk. Zvyozdochka will be involved in cooperation with Sevmash. In summer, our colleagues embarked on making sections of up to 100 tonnes in weight that will be moved to our side.

    They will be assembled into four sub-blocks and then integrated into a single unit. Assembling and equipment works were scheduled for October. The 139х23х17 meter structure fitted with equipment and pipelines will be then moved to the water area and prepared for transportation to Kaliningrad where three units will be assembled into a support structure. It is the customer to decide which company performs the transportation.

    By today, Zvyozdochka has prepared a yard for assembling of the blocks, has defined the key services and workshops to be involved in the work.

    The support structure is to feature resistance to low temperature and high ice load. It will also be equipped with sophisticated systems, Therefore, we will have to cooperate with supervisory authorities – Russian Maritime Register of Shipping and Rostekhnadzor. They will provide technical support at the site as well as approve the delivery to the customer and transportation by sea. It is an ambitious project so their supervision will cover 80% of the works on construction and equipment. 


    “We are pursuing the presidential instructions on working towards 50/50 ratio of civil and military orders within our shipbuilding portfolio”

    Despite the large scale of the new gas order we still have contractual obligations under the state defense order. With this, we are pursuing the presidential instructions on working towards 50/50 ratio of civil and military orders within our shipbuilding portfolio.

    - Your company manufactures screw propellers. How much do they differ from their foreign counterparts in terms of production cost and term? Do you plan to expand this production?

    - With its Center of Propulsion Systems (CPS), Zvyozdochka is actually a unique company manufacturing screw propellers in Russia. Over the recent decades it has been manufacturing a wide range of screws of a diverse materials, purposes and sizes. That is possible due to high qualification of its specialists and modern technological infrastructure. However, the cost of product rises with no large-series production. The last set of crews for gas carriers of the Yamal series under construction in S. Korea has been shipped this year. More than 40 screw propellers have been delivered to the customer.

    Both in the international and the domestic market, Zvyozdochka offers competitive prices, terms and quality thanks to a well balanced marketing policy and technical readiness. Some foreign companies have been ordering screw propellers to us for more than two decades and continues doing that despite of sanctions. The sales geography of Zvyozdochka branded propellers is thus expanding.

    Designers and product engineers of CPS are permanently engaged in ensuring the compliance of the screw propellers with the highest standards thus allowing us to retain leadership in Russia and to be on a par with the global majors.

    - Does Zvyozdochka manufacture other components? Are there any plans to expand the range of products?

    - Apart from the screw propellers, Zvyozdochka’s CPS has mastered the production of various propulsion systems. This subdivision of our company is engaged in designing, production, testing and service maintenance of such equipment. The CPS Design Department has developed hundreds of screw propellers, dozens of propulsion/steering units, thrusters and shaft-lines.


    “Apart from the screw propellers, Zvyozdochka’s CPS has mastered the production of various propulsion systems”


    Specialists of the design bureau work in a close cooperation with the leading ship designers. With our traditional specialization on ice class screw propellers, we interact with Central Design Bureau “Iceberg”: we are currently developing working design documentation for a shaft line of nuclear-powered icebreaker Leader of Project 10510.

    In this context it is appropriate mention the collaboration with Central Design Bureau “Baltsudoproekt”. Zvyozdochka is to develop a thruster of special design. Generally speaking, CPS Design Department is currently ready for any calculations on propulsion systems, for partial and complete development of concept and detailed designs.

    Our production facilities are deployed for serial production of propulsion/steering units with capacity between 2,000 and 3,000 kW, 4,000 and 5,000 kW.

    Zvyozdochka’s propulsion/steering units and thrusters are installed on different ships built across the country: seagoing tugs, cable-laying ships, tankers, icebreakers, supply ships, etc. Of course, we equip ships of our own production with such propulsion/steering units as well.  For example, PSU of 2,400 kW have replaced previously used units manufactured by Rolls-Royсe on a series of ships of Project 20180 under construction at Zvyozdochka.

    Apart from production, CSP specialists offer technical support and maintenance of supplied equipment throughout its life cycle including screw propellers repaired and surveyed at the shipyards of S.Korea, Singapore, Sweden, Bahamas, Finland, Norway, Italy, Poland, Netherlands, Japan, etc.

    Our product quality is acknowledged by a national award for achievements in import substitution, Priority-2019, given for creation of a propulsion/steering unit ДРК4500Н which is also among the Top 100 Products of Russia.

    - Could you, please tell about the activities of your subsidiary, SPU “Vint”. What are its developments and their application in shipbuilding?

    - SPU “Vint” is the key subsidiary of Zvyozdochka. When it joined the Ship Repair Center in 2007 together with Borovsk based Pilot Plant “Vega”, a powerful and promising facility was established for designing and production of propulsion systems covering the entire cycle including R&D, designing, production of prototypes, serial production, warranty maintenance and repair.

    As part of its import substitution activities, SPU “Vint” is expanding the range of its propulsion/steering units. By today, it has created a 1,200-kW unit (ДРК1200) intended for ships of mixed river/sea navigation. Both the company’s experience and the finding of the world’s best manufacturers were taken into consideration. The work on hydrodynamic optimization of the units’ profile was performed together with the Krylov State Research Center. It ensured maximum propulsion efficiency.

    The unit has undergone all the tests including full-scale test in the experimental tank of Vega and was certified by Russian Maritime Register of Shipping and Russian River Register. SPU “Vint” now begins serial production of ДРК1200 unit for ships of mixed river/sea navigation under construction today.

    One more dynamically developing activity of SPU “Vint” is the supply of propulsion equipment packages. The company integrates ship equipment of domestic origin, establishes cooperation links with manufacturers of engines, speed-reduction gears, sealing devices and electrical equipment. Proper combination of propulsion equipment allows for a considerable reduction of operational costs for a ship owner due to optimized fuel consumption, cost of maintenance and repair. Besides, it is always better for a designer and a manufacturer to work with one supplier responsible for the complete set of propulsion equipment.

    In view of toughening environmental requirements in the segment of marine equipment, SPU “Vint” is working towards introduction of electric propulsion, primarily in the segment of underwater robotics. It is also developing propulsion systems with dual-fuel engines able to run on natural gas.

    Besides, the company is intensely developing water jet propulsion systems particularly required for small-size leisure boats. New types of water jets are under development involving hi-tech production methods such as high-precision casting, multi-coordinate processing, additive processing, etc.

    - How has the pandemic affected the activities of the lead plant?

    - Despite the constraints, preventive measures and other unfavorable circumstances caused by the pandemic, we have managed to meet the deadlines and prevent the upsurge of infection cases among the employees. The activities aimed to prevent the spread of infection are still underway.

    - What is the impact of outside sanctions on the schedule for fulfillment of orders? Are there any delays? What resources do you use to address this problem?

    - The Ship Repair Center has been under sanctions imposed by some countries on Russian companies for five years already. That is quite a period for getting used in living under a new paradigm. There are two aspects of sanctions for Zvyozdochka: implementation of works under the state defense order (repair and modernization of RF Navy’s surface and subsurface ships) and construction of new facilities including civil ones. The first aspect has not been affected by the sanctions in terms of performance of our contractual obligations. As for the second one, we had to be intensely involved in import substitution programme. When it came to construction of special-purpose ships based on Project 20180, some of foreign manufacturers had to reject start-up, commissioning and warranty maintenance of their equipment due to the policy of sanctions. This unexpected problem was partly solved through commissioning and testing of foreign equipment on our own, thus ensuring successful completion of works and deliveries.


    “It was CMDB “Almaz” that took over the key load of sanctions”


    It was CMDB “Almaz” that took over the key load of sanctions. It had to process the bulk of documentation to fit it into the reality, look for equipment counterparts, make internal alterations to the premises, pipeline and electricity networks of already built hulls. Of course, that led to delays. However, successful revision of designs with import substitution and viable solutions on commissioning of the installed systems and equipment allowed for the delivery of the Akademik Kovalyov and the Akademik Aleksandrov ships.

    The Akademik Makeyev, sister ship of the Akademik Kovalyov, will be built without involvement of any companies under sanctions.

    As can be noted, the programme of import substitution facilitated the developments of domestic manufacturers of equipment, especially sophisticated and hi-technologies one with Zvyozdochka having taken an active part. As it was mentioned earlier, propulsion/steering units installed on the Akademik Makeyev are designed and manufactured by Zvyozdochka’s CPS to replace foreign ones foreseen by the design. Successful fulfillment of this task enables our designers of screw propellers enter the market of customized propulsion systems.

    By Albert Svintitsky