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Kambara Kisen: Doing its own thing

Fukuyama: Hirotatsu Kambara is a busy man. As well as being an executive director for Tsuneishi Shipbuilding he is the president of Japanese shipping line, Kambara Kisen. The line is made up of 35 ships ranging from handymaxes to kamsarmaxes.

“Going forward, we plan to keep adding two or three ships a year, for which fuel-efficient bulk carriers shall be the mainstream to meet the strong demand among charterers,” Kambara tells Maritime CEO. As well as the dry bulk side of the business, 111-year-old Kambara Kisen is also an intra-Asia container player, much of which business is done in a tie up with Thailand’s Regional Container Line (RCL).

Kambara, the great grandson of the founder of the company, says shipping still faces harsh times ahead thanks to overtonnage and sluggish economies around the world.

“Shipping is a highly volatile type of industry, and although we will have minor ups and downs, the increasing cargo volume of the world can recover the market in the mid- to long term projection,” Kambara says, adding: “Whether times are good or bad, the important thing is to invest solidly in new tonnages according to your own size.”

On the shipbuilding front, Kambara says global capacity at the moment is around 100m tons, which post-Lehman, is about twice what it ought to be.

“To survive this tough competitive environment for orders, we are working to develop more distinctive products while lowering costs,” Kambara says. To this end, Tsuneishi manufactures ships in both China and the Philippines as well as its southern Japanese headquarters. There is also a joint venture in South America, in landlocked Paraguay building river and canal vessels.

“Although these ships are not ‘Made in Japan’ per se,” he says, “they are built overseas using Japanese expertise and are thus ‘Made with Japan’.”

Among new products, this year Tsuneishi has started marketing a new bulker, the TESS64 Aeroline, a 64,000 dwt fuel efficient bulker. Offering fuel efficient ships is a top aim for Tsuneishi. The aim is to offer ships in 2020 that emit 40% less CO2 emissions than vessels built in 1990.

Further yards in Southeast Asia are also on the cards, with Indonesia top of the list, which will initially focus on ship repair. [19/08/14]


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