• 2021 September 27

    Civil shipbuilding in contemporary Russia

    Construction of new civil ships was the main topic of the business programme at the NEVA 2021 exhibition held recently in Saint-Petersburg. The key task is to build ice class ships and ships of inland navigation with production arranged mostly in Russia and high content of locally manufactured equipment.

    A total of 232 ships are currently being built in Russia and abroad to the class of Russian Maritime Register of Shipping, Georgy Bedrik, Head of RS Planning and Marketing division, said at Neva 2021. According to him, there are prospects for construction of 122 more ships.

    The demand for new ships is really high in Russia. The country needs fishing ships, ships of mixed Sea/river class, bulkers and tankers as well as support and technical ships. Almost all sea going ships should be of ice class and meet environmental standards for operation in the Arctic and in the Baltic and North Sea ECAs.

    The priority task for the Arctic development is construction of icebreakers.

    “The new task is six more icebreakers, two nuclear-powered ones and four ships running on LNG. To a certain extent, we should tighten our joint efforts (with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and USC - Ed.) towards production of LNG-powered icebreakers since the number of nuclear-powered icebreakers available today cannot meet the required rates... I think, having tested dual-fuel ships using LNG this technology can be easily transferred to cargo ships”, said Vyacheslav Ruksha, Deputy General Director of State Corporation “Rosatom”.

    In his opinion, Russia should build cargo ships of ice class. The speaker emphasized that 15 gas carriers built for the Yamal LNG project earn 10 times as much as nuclear-powered icebreakers every year.

    As Maxim Boyko, Head of LNG Technology Department, Russian Maritime Register of Shipping, said in his turn at NEVA 2021, RS has prepared many specialists for the segment of LNG-powered ships, underway is the development of the related rules and ad-hoc notations are being provided. A contract with GTT has been signed in 2021 to join hands in the design of membrane containment systems.

    Most of sea going ships are under construction at Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Complex “Zvezda” in the Primorsky Territory. When speaking at NEVA 2021, Konstantin Globenko, Deputy General Director - Project Director, Shipbuilding Complex Zvezda (Primorsky Territory), said that SC Zvezda counts on signing contracts for 10 tankers under Vostok Oil project in October 2021. According to him, the contracts foresee the construction of Arc7 class shuttle tankers of 120,000 dwt.

    “Such ships nave never been built in Russia or in the world. I mean, tankers of such dimensions and such a high class have never been built. That is a unique and innovative project”, said the speaker adding that the project concept has been completed as well as model tests which have proved good navigation and icebreaking characteristics of the ship.

    State Corporation “Rosatom” is also in negotiations on construction and operation of three bulkers and two ice-class tugs for Baimsky Mining and Processing Plant, said Maksim Kulinko, Deputy Head of Rosatom’s Northern Sea Route Directorate. According to him, Rosatom is going to ensure year-round navigation under the project while Hydrographic Company is to design a sea terminal.

    Aleksandr Bengert, General Director of FSUE Hydrographic Company, said in his turn that the company is looking into construction of its own dredging fleet.

    “We are currently considering a possibility of building our own dredging fleet, internal formation of demand is underway. We understand that most likely we are not able to do without it in view of the scope of tasks we face”, said the speaker.

    Financial seas

    Obviously, implementation of such ambitious shipbuilding tasks is impossible without a state support.

    United Shipbuilding Corporation considers it reasonable to introduce new measures of state support for domestic shipbuilding. Artyom Poltavets, Acting Director of USC’s Strategic Development Department, says some companies can be subsidized for pilot development of manufacturing facilities under an ad hoc decree of RF Government.

    “Taking into account the common features of the industries we think it reasonable for the Government to develop a decree on production of pilot projects, one-of-a-kind ships of various profiles”, said the USC representative. According to him, that will let solve the problem of numerous lead ships and ships of unique designs with unclear cost of implementation which was the problem USC faced when building fishing ships.

    USC also suggests to streamline registration of newbuilds complying with certain requirements as ships of Russian origin. For that purpose, the related procedure at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation should be simplified.

    In the segment of fishing ships, Artyom Poltavets calls on the increase of local content of ship components from 30% to 50% for ships being built under the next phase of ‘keel quota’ programme.

    Meanwhile, most experts agree that there is no need to strive towards 100% of localization. First of all, Russian shipyards are already overloaded with orders, secondly, they often lack skilled personnel and competence while their facilities are in need of modernization. In this context, cooperation, both internal and international can be of great help.

    As for international cooperation, Vadim Akimov, Director, DAMEN Holding Russia, commented: “We can contribute our knowledge and our shipbuilding methods... We can build ships partly in Russia and partly at our yards and we can do it fast within the required terms. We understand that Russian shipyards are loaded now”.

    Vadim Akimov emphasized that Damen Shipyards Group has a bright experience of building the world’s largest icebreaking research ship of Polar3 class for the Government of Australia. It can break through ice of up to 1.7 meters thick at a speed of 3 knots. DAMEN signed the shipbuilding contract in April 2016 and the ship left for the port of registration in September 2021.

    When it comes to internal cooperation, it can be organized with the application of 'distributed shipyard' principle which was covered in detail by Artyom Toropchin, Head of Innovative Development Department, Baltiysky Zavod JSC.

    “We believe that the most efficient method of building advanced marine facilities for the Arctic development is the method of building pre-fabricated large-blocks in a dock complex with a covered berth through a cooperation between the North-West cluster companies under a ‘distributed shipyard’ technology” said Artyom Toropchin.

    He emphasized that apart from a dry dock the above mentioned cluster needs a fabricating shop, hull facilities building, chambers for cleaning and painting of blocks, facilities for manufacture of special power units with test-bench equipment, a storage for nuclear materials, equipment for moving blocks from the welding shop to the assembling shop, pontoons for moving blocks manufactured by partners. According to the speaker, the shipyard has developed a technology for production of blocks weighing up to 1,200 tonnes.

    In the case of nuclear-powered icebreaker LK-60, those measures are expected to reduce the construction period from 6 to 4.5 years.

    In the segment of inland water transport, the demand for newbuilds is estimated at 5,000 units by 2030, Yevgeny Ditrikh, General Director of STLC, said at NEVA 2021 adding that the basic scenario foresees the demand for 2,600 newbuilds, the best case scenario – up to 5,900 units.

    Meanwhile, Russia’s demand for technical ships in 2025-2030 exceeds 800 units, Konstantin Anisimov, Deputy Head of the Federal Marine and River Transport Agency (Rosmorrechflot) said at the 4th International Conference “Development of Icebreaking and Support Fleet“ organized by IAA PortNews as part of the NEVA Exhibition zero day programme. There is a demand for construction of 62 dredging ships of 250-700 cbm in capacity, 150 barges and anchor boats, 164 buoy tenders, 102 barges for deck cargo, 81 pusher tugs, 55 floating cranes, 53 survey ships, 34 ecological ships, 33 bunkering tankers, 30 guardships, 28 service launch units, 12 floating docks, 8 diving boats and 5 oil barges.

    Oleg Ryazantsev, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, said the Ministry plans to build over 300 ships by 2032 under subsidized leasing programmes,

    “The key factor is subsidized leasing. Without it, we cannot implement any programme. It is the most viable instrument which has proved itself ... Today, together with STLC, colleagues from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economic Development, we follow the presidential instructions to obtain RUB 108 billion from the National Wealth Fund. It will be a large-scale programme through 2030s. Meanwhile, we understand that with the funds obtained from NWF, STLC will be able to raise the same amount from the debt capital market, plus RUB 40 billion under the state shipbuilding development programme. In total, our estimates show that those leasing based resources will let us build more than 300 ships by 2032”, said the official.

    In view of budget allocations for construction of ships the issue of pricing is important.

    The draft law on introduction of amendments into the federal law “On Industrial Policy of the Russian Federation” in the part of pricing in shipbuilding is to be submitted to the State Duma in autumn 2021.  It is currently under consideration at the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia (FAS).

    As Elena Kornienko, Deputy Head of the Pricing Economy and Methodology Department, ONTС RUMB, Shipbuilding and Shiprepair Technology Center JSC (SSTC), the draft law entitles the Government and the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation for validation and approval of pricing.

    As a summary we can say that the country has faced a challenge, unprecedented after the collapse of the USSR, on modernization of the civil fleet en masse, construction of innovative ships for the Arctic and ships powered by alternative fuels.

    By Vitaly Chernov


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