Tokyo: Following a decade of contraction, shipbuilding on Japanese soil is experiencing a renaissance of sorts.
This January, Imabari Shipbuilding announced it would build an extra dock as it chased ultra large containership orders. This marked the first real expansion in facilities at any major Japanese shipyard in more than 10 years. Now, Namura Shipbuilding has announced plans to expand capacity at Sasebo Heavy Industries, which it acquired last year.
By the end of the 2016 financial year Sasebo should be able to build 10 ships a year, up from the current six. Furthermore, Sasebo’s product mix will be expanded to offer VLCC construction. Currently Sasebo is capable of building most tanker types up to suezmax class. The combined entity of Namura and Sasebo should be churning out 30 vessels a year come the end of the 2016 financial year.
Namura became the third largest shipbuilder in Japan, following Imabari Shipbuilding and Japan Marine United (JMU), when it took over Sasebo in a deal announced last May.
Until 1999, Japanese yards produced most of the world’s ships. They now rank third, outpaced by South Korean and Chinese shipbuilders. This in turn has led to a massive round of mergers among Japanese yards – Namura and Sasebo’s being the most recent.
Expansion by Japanese shipyards in the past decade has been overseas with the likes of Tsuneishi expanding in China and Southeast Asia.