In his interview with IAA PortNews, Aleksey Rakhmanov, General Director of United Shipbuilding Corporation, told about the efforts of USC towards import substitution and keeping competitive price parameters as well as about completion of cruise ship Peotr Veliky and delivery of chemical tanker PortNews.
- Mr. Rakhmanov, will USC-Propulsion, the division established within the United Shipbuilding Corporation, be able to integrate all the systems existing in Russia?
- We are eager to make USC-Propulsion the managing company for some subdivisions of the corporation so that they could present a design and production power and deal with the issues related to cooperation with the customers. With internal customers making the bulk, this interface will work through design bureaus within USC. They will account all the types of equipment used for production within the corporation. That will be the first activity of the new division.
The second activity is to ensure interaction with external customers, those who like and wish our products.
- How will the components be integrated into an end product?
- First of all, we are to determine who can what. Secondly, the priority is to be given to those able to design specifically tailored products. For example, we are currently discussing new trawlers which will probably require a composite shaft line. Nobody manufactures it today but there are at least two companies capable of that. Such competences of the companies should be integrated into the project at the earliest phase.
If we see the entire order for a certain period of time we can invest in technologies, develop or upgrade them in view of the USC production programme.
For instance, USC companies are already implementing orders on propulsion, shaft lines and propellers. If we commence production of 3D-printed propellers we will have a new technological line and it should not stay idle.
Therefore, all the orders should be accumulated and taken into account to optimize production and to prevent overlapping of facilities.
- Will the customers’ opinion taken into consideration?
- Of course, it will. However, principal readiness of customers to have their ships built in Russia will to a great extend depend on governmental decisions. That mechanism can be driven perfectly by privileges provided to those opting for Russian shipyards. Those can be Russian transport companies or leasing companies. They would anyway have to correlate their requirements with our capabilities. Otherwise, we will face the same problems as in the case of the Peotr Veliky. It took us 4 months to approve the engine manufacturers and that time was taken from the production. I am sure, such debates should be put aside.
Meanwhile, we understand that competitive price parameters should be kept. If our companies start producing let’s say propulsion units one and a half times more expensive than those available in the market, that production will see a total disruption.
Therefore, our challenge is to conduct optimization of our production with respect of the market benchmarks.
- You have recently told the plants they would not get the permits for steel cutting before design documentation is 50% ready.
- I signed that order 2 years ago.
- Does it work?
- It works in most cases but it would be a lie to say the problem has disappeared. The situation with the Peotr Veliky is different.
- Mr. Rakhmanov, once and again you mention the construction of the passenger ship Peotr Veliky. I cannot but ask about its future. Is there a decision on any integration with the Krasnoye Sormovo shipyard for the Peotr Veliky completion?
- Yes, I think we will engage Krasnoye Sormovo. We are looking into sending some Nizhny Novgorod specialists to Astrakhan as they proved to be successful when building a similar ship, the Mustai Karim.
- Could you, please, once again announce the deadline for the Peotr Veliky?
- That is easy, we are to complete the construction in 2021.
Actually, the customer says they will not need the ship in 2021 due to the pandemic and absence of tourists.
Hopefully, the travel business will recover to its normal state in 2022. Nevertheless, nobody can predict the development of the third wave of the pandemic which is much talked of already.
- Vodohod management has announced its plans to commence construction of PV-180 cruise ship at Krasnoye Sormovo soon. When can the contract be signed?
- We are actually preparing for signing a preliminary agreement on this project. That ship will be smaller than the Mustai Karim delivered to Vodohod last year. I suppose, we will spend this year with our Vympel bureau for the design and the construction is to begin next year.
- If we come to an agreement regarding contractual obligations, then the main point, the price, can be discussed.
I will not give any promises regarding the price before the design is ready. First comes technical design and a pool of suppliers as well as half of design documentation, then comes the price.
In case of serial construction, the price can be announced at the moment of signing the contract. When it comes to construction of a lead ship, nobody in the world announces fixed prices. Nobody!
We had an experience of building research ships. First, we developed a design, then defined what equipment is to be used and then came to the price bid.
“The PortNews tanker looks like an aircraft carrier – powerful and beautiful!”
- Turning to tenders, I cannot but ask you why USC decided not to take part in the competition for dock construction announced by Rosatom?
- We didn’t submit a bid because it is impossible to build a dock in Russia for that amount (maximum contract price is about RUB 5 billion - Ed.) with specifications set forth by Rosatom.
Neither did we take part in Rosmorport’s tenders for construction of 18-MW icebreakers since our colleagues set a very low price while expecting an incredible scope of equipment which cannot be acquired when euro is 90 rubles.
- Do you mean that Rosmorport can have it dock built in a foreign country?
- Actually, I don’t think they can have it built in a foreign country either, today. Even if they have it built, it is not clear how can it be maintained then.
- I know that USC launches its own programme of dock reconstruction at its shipyards. Could you, please, tell about it.
- Our programme for reconstruction of hydraulic engineering facilities has been approved by the Ministry of Industry and Trade. It is a long-term programme. It is currently being implemented through a credit scheme of Promsvyazbank exceeding RUB 150 billion.
In particular, we have commenced dock modernization at 35 SRZ of our Ship Repair Center “Zvyozdochka”.
- Finally, my favorite question, if you don't mind: when will the PortNew chmical tanker delivered to Volgotrans?
- I want to make it perfectly clear that we have built an excellent lead ship of Project 216. The PortNews tanker looks like an aircraft carrier – powerful and beautiful!
It is “alive” already having successfully completed the first manufacturer’s sea trials. It only remains to have the system approved by the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping. Testing and commissioning is in full swing and we are getting ready for the ship delivery to the customer.
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