Japan’s main yards are full up through to the end of 2019

To the envy of most of their Asian rivals Japan’s main yards are hanging up metaphorical ‘Full’ signs outside their gates, having closed out their docks for the whole of 2019.

Sources in Tokyo tell Splash that the top six yards in Japan are now marketing slots for 2020 having had a very strong six months of orders, predominantly by local owners, for bulkers and VLCCs.

Commenting on the news, Martin Rowe, a Hong Kong-based broker with Clarkson Platou, agreed that 2019 was essentially full for Japanese yards. However, he pointed out: “This isn’t to say that with a bit of shuffling things round at certain yards in Japan it might not be possible to shoehorn in a couple more 2019 berths.”

Most yards in China and South Korea on the other hand still have much work to do to fill out their docks for 2019.

For the first time since the dawn of the new millennium Japanese yards overtook their Korean rivals in terms of orderbook and market share this January.

According to Clarkson Research data released in early January, the shipbuilding orderbook held by Korean shipyards stood at 19.92m cgt (473 units) as of the end of December 2016, while Japanese shipyards had an orderbook of 20.96m cgt (835). China remains out on top.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. This is very interesting.

    As we all know, shipbuilding capacity is a flexible number, particularly in Japan where subcontracting is very well established. Having said that, Japanese shipbuilding has been reducing capacity, but has continued to look for efficiencies. The continual pursuit of efficiency must be a factor in the total orderbook being slightly larger than that for South Korea. It is possible that Japanese shipbuilding is close to a stable position, now.

  2. This is intriguing news, given that several traditionally large yards in Japan like MHI, Kawasaki and IHI are shutting down yards or looking at mergers. So I wonder if Japanese capacity reduction is also playing a role here, leaving the remaining yards with full orderbooks.

    1. I was thinking the same thoughts. I take the decision to leave shipbuilding by the “big names” to be driven by a wish to re-invest further in a “newer” part of the industrial scene, away from old fashioned and commodity like metal bashing.

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