China’s shipbuilders chart exciting waters

Deliveries from Chinese constructors account for half the global total

China’s first domestically built large cruise ship, Adora Magic City, embarked on its maiden voyage on Monday, when it left Shanghai for destinations in Northeast Asia. The successful delivery and operation of the vessel saw China join countries such as Italy, France, Germany and Finland in designing and building their own cruise ships. It also signified that China is the only country to have mastered the technology for building an aircraft carrier, a large liquefied natural gas carrier and a large cruise ship. The nation’s shipbuilding industry is now well positioned to develop its cruise industry chain to a level and scale to match such achievements, with experts predicting that China’s cruise economy will grow to 500 billion yuan ($71 billion) by 2035.

Xing Yue, general manager at Clarksons Research in China, wrote in a report: “Just five shipyards across the world have the experience of building large cruise ships. China State Shipbuilding Corp, or CSSC, and Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co’s development of Adora Magic City ended the dominance of three European shipyards in building large cruise vessels.”Chen Gang, general manager of Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co, a unit of CSSC, said constructing a cruise ship is regarded as the “crown jewel” of the shipbuilding industry. Such a gigantic engineering project directly reflects a nation’s comprehensive scientific and technological levels and manufacturing strengths, Chen added.

Since China’s cruise ship project began in October 2013, some 2.3 million man-hours were devoted to design and 18 million man-hours to construction before Adora Magic City became operational. The 323.6-meter-long, 37.2-meter-wide vessel houses 55,000 sets of equipment, 25 million components and parts, 4,750 kilometers of cables, 365 km of pipelines and 120 km of air pipes. The ship, which has a gross tonnage of 135,500 tons, can accommodate a maximum of 5,246 travelers in its 2,125 guest cabins. Equipped with a 40,000-square-meter public living and entertainment area, the vessel is known as a “modern city on the sea”. Chen, who is also chief designer of the shipyard’s large cruise ship project, said, “One of our designers, who has worked on air-conditioning systems for ships for most of his life, said that all such systems he has designed comprise less than half of a single cruise ship.”

Niklas Peterstam, captain of ADORA MAGIC CITY, has high expectations for the vessel. He and his crew of about 1,300 from 28 countries will welcome passengers aboard trips that offer a unique maritime experience. “I think that after many years of growth and development, people in China will love this special kind of vacation. Families will admire this ship because it has so much to offer, especially for women and children,” he said.



Boasting a trendy state-of-the-art shopping center that occupies about 2,000 square meters, ADORA MAGIC CITY boasts the largest duty-free retail space in Chinese waters by partnering with China Duty Free Group. Since joining the vessel on July 7, Peterstam said he had taken part in two sea trials in July and September, along with two trial voyages with passengers last month, before the vessel’s maiden voyage.

Thorough Lin Guolong, director of Shanghai Maritime University’s Logistics Research Center, said cruise ships usually undergo two sea trials before receiving certificates from major international classification bodies. The first trial focuses on technical indicators, while the second tests the vessel’s safety, comfort and emergency response capabilities. Zhang Yuzhuo, chairman of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council, said the delivery of Adora Magic City marks a milestone in the nation’s transformation to a shipbuilding power, and also a fresh start for China’s goal of creating an industrial cruise ecosystem.

Wang Hong, president and professor of management at the China Europe International Business School, said, “The inaugural voyage of the China-built vessel represents not only a great breakthrough for the nation’s high-end manufacturing techniques, but also for Chinese people’s pursuit of and demand for a better life.
“The entire management operation for Adora Magic City incorporates everything people need onboard, including eating, drinking, entertainment and sightseeing, making the vessel a gigantic amusement park and mobile resort. Such a platform will surely become a new growth engine for consumption and the Chinese economy as a whole.”

Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in recent years, Clarksons, the world’s biggest shipping services provider, remains optimistic about the long-term outlook for the cruise market. It predicts that in 2028, the sector will welcome more than 40 million passengers, up from 31 million last year.

“In our passenger forecast, the development of China’s consumer cruise market is particularly important,” a report from Clarksons said.

The interior decoration of large cruise ships is extremely complex, and involves obtaining and assembling a large amount of supplies at a huge cost, the report added. People’s Daily reported that by the end of 2019, China had become the world’s second-largest cruise market, with the direct economic contribution of international cruise companies to the nation reaching 14 billion yuan that year, out of an overall economic contribution of 35.8 billion yuan.

Chen, from Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co, said continuous development of the domestic cruise economy is forecast to propel the nation’s cruise industry to a scale of 500 billion yuan.“It took the European cruise manufacturing industry more than 40 years to form industrial alliances. Even if the equipment and technology can be mastered by the Chinese shipbuilding industry in a relatively short period of time, it will still take quite a long time to develop management modes and supporting industries,” Chen said.Construction of China’s second domestically built cruise ship started in August 2022. With the experience gained from building ADORA MAGIC CITY, it is hoped that construction man-hours can be reduced by 20 percent, with construction costs cut and efficiency enhanced, Chen added.

Chinese shipbuilders made history last year. With deliveries accounting for half the global total, the nation’s shipbuilding industry grew in terms of quantity and quality, boding well for the goal of transitioning from a large shipbuilding base to a maritime production center, industry experts said.

Steve Gordon, global head of Clarksons Research, said that for the first time, China is projected to have contributed half of the world’s total shipbuilding production last year by delivering 17.4 million compensated gross tonnage, or CGT, marking a significant consolidation of the nation’s significance to the global shipbuilding industry. CGT is an indicator of the amount of work needed to build a particular ship.

Gordon said that despite major disruptions in recent years, shipping remains vital to the global economy by moving 85 percent of all trade worldwide, adding that it is estimated that the shipping industry transported 12.3 billion tons of global trade last year, a year-on-year growth of 2.2 percent.


Significant results

Xing Wenhua, chairman of the Shanghai Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, said, “The Chinese shipbuilding industry maintained its strong development momentum by outperforming in the three major shipbuilding indicators — contracting, orders, and deliveries — seeing growth across the board and a leading market share. «In recent years, the industry has achieved significant results in its accelerated structural adjustment, transformation and upgrading, Xing said. The nation’s new shipbuilding breakthroughs cover large cruise ships, vessels powered by LNG, methanol and ammonia, high-end marine engineering equipment, ultra-large container ships, pure car and truck carriers, high-end marine fishery equipment, and marine research vessels, Xing added. Lin Guolong, director of Shanghai Maritime University’s Logistics Research Center, said, “These achievements in high-end ships have been made not only in terms of technologies and craftsmanship, but also in winning market recognition.” Lin was referring to major Chinese shipbuilders’ accomplishments regarding vessels universally recognized as the most difficult to build due to the advanced techniques that are required.

Since delivering Dapeng Sun, the nation’s first home-built LNG carrier in April 2008, Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) Co, a CSSC subsidiary, has developed five generations of LNG carriers. Securing 37 new orders in 2022, the company, which is based in Shanghai, said at the start of last year that it aimed to double its LNG vessel construction capacity and accelerate research and development throughout the year. In September, it announced that its self-designed-and-developed LNG carrier, which occupies 271,000 cubic meters and is the world’s largest, had received approval in principle certificates from four major classification bodies. Construction of the vessel showed that Chinese shipbuilders’ research and development, design, and manufacturing capabilities were entering a new phase, the company said.

Last year, Jiangnan Shipyard (Group) Co, also a unit of CSSC, completed work on upgrading and technique innovation, as well as accelerating management and production processes. The company, headquartered in Shanghai, met its manufacturing target for the year more than one month ahead of schedule.

Among the medium- to high-end vessels it delivered, the company’s dual fuel VLGC, or very large gas carrier, which can transport up to 93,000 cu m of liquefied gas, is the world’s largest of its kind with a competitive edge. The vessel has met the latest emissions regulations and requirements. Hu Keyi, the company’s corporate technology chief, said the delivery of VLGCs has further consolidated its leading position in global VLGC research, development and construction.
“In the past, domestic shipbuilders always seemed to accept the superiority of foreign engineering, manufacturing and managerial prowess, but Jiangnan refused to do so,” Hu said. Lin said, “The benefits of cost efficiency, a complete industrial and supply chain, and constant breakthroughs in key techniques and technologies have seen China come very close to becoming a shipbuilding power.” Data from Clarksons show that in the first 10 months of last year, 1,547 new ship orders amounting to 89.12 million deadweight tonnes were placed globally, with nearly 58 percent of them going to Chinese shipyards. A total of 4,359 ships comprising 122.58 million CGT are currently on global order books, with Chinese shipyards securing orders for 2,539 vessels comprising 59.34 million CGT. Lin said China is still at the initial stage of becoming a recognized worldwide shipbuilding power. To weather the challenges ahead, the nation’s shipyards need to be more competitive in their research and development, designs and techniques. They should also pay special attention to nurturing talent, enhancing management and efficiency, and adapting flexibly to market needs in terms of design, production and technique, Lin said.


Source: China Daily




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