Greater ChinaShipyards

Marintec China showcases the future of shipbuilding

As the stands come down in Shanghai at Asia’s largest shipping show, attendees at this week’s Marintec China have had a glimpse of what the future holds for shipping – and more specifically shipbuilding.

A decade ago the chat around Marintec focused on China’s growth to become the largest shipbuilding nation on Earth.

This edition proved a showcase to highlight Chinese yards’ rapid climb up the technology ladder. At no show covered by Splash journalists have I witnessed so many class approval in principles (AiPs) than this Marintec. The much consolidated Chinese shipbuilding sector is now ready to take a lead when it comes to innovation.

The news out of Shanghai all week was in stark contrast to headlines from across the Yellow Sea where Korean yards wallowed amid plenty of stories about a gloomy outlook. Samsung Heavy Industries, for instance, suffered its single greatest stock loss on Wednesday, plummeting 29% in one day as it revealed it is likely to make losses next year. The rug has firmly been pulled from South Korea’s shipbuilders and now lies snug along the Chinese coastline.

The other very important theme emanating from Marintec China this week is that Chinese authorities and yards have decided firmly that LNG propulsion is the future of shipping. You just have to witness the volume of press releases pertaining to LNG as a ship fuel being issued from Shanghai this week to grasp this fact.

About the only thing missing from the week was a merger announcement between CSSC and CSIC – the two state-run Chinese shipbuilding conglomerates that dominate the sector. They were a single entity until they split in two with the Yangtze as the geographic boundary in the late 1990s. The signals coming from Beijing and Shanghai in recent months had pointed towards the pair merging. Perhaps we will have to wait until the next edition of Marintec China for this mega combination to become reality.

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.
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