Chinese tug and workboat construction is returning with the first delivery and launch of vessels since the industry was brought to a standstill by coronavirus
There has been a slow improvement in newbuilding contracting and completions as China gradually resumes production after almost two months of shutdowns and slowing productivity due to the growing Covid-19 epidemic.
About 25% of shipbuilding facilities are back in action with a total resumption targeted for the end of March, according to BRL Shipping Consultants.
This comes as China seems to have turned a corner in controlling the infections, as the nation’s government reports its lowest number of new coronavirus cases since the initial outbreak in January.
Jiangsu Zhenjiang Shipyard Group delivered its first vessel since January when production was halted for the Lunar New Year celebrations and was then stunted by workers staying away due to Covid-19 infections and quarantine rules. It delivered an 18-m pilot vessel on 5 March, built for a domestic ship operator to improve transportation of harbour pilots to vessels awaiting entry into Chinese ports.
Zhenjiang Shipyard also launched its first tugboat since January. It lifted an azimuth stern drive (ASD) tug from drydock to the quayside for outfitting on 29 February. This harbour tug is being built for Zhoushan Xinya Repairing Shipyard Co with up to 2,646 kW of installed power.
The previous milestone for the shipyard was on 20 January when it delivered an ASD tug to a domestic port. ZhangGang 28 was built for Zhangjiagang Port with total power output of 3,280 kW. This 35-m long and 10-m breadth ASD tug has bollard pull capacity ahead of 51.8 tonnes and astern of 48.9 tonnes, a maximum speed of 14 knots and enough fuel capacity for 1,000 nautical miles.
The day before this delivery, Zhenjiang Shipyard laid the keel for a 2,942-kW ASD tugboat it is building for Guangxi port.
Other shipyards returned to productivity this month, but some were forced to raise finance as their working-capital facilities were depleted by the coronavirus outbreak.
China State Shipbuilding Corp has raised ¥5Bn (US$720M) in bonds as short-term debt from local investors. According to local news reports, China Development Bank, Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Bank of Shanghai are underwriting the debt.
Chinese shipping companies, including COSCO Shipping and China Merchants have also raised money to cover short-term capital requirements.
Extensive coronavirus infections cut shipyard productivity in Q1 2020. China Association of the National Shipbuilding Industry said in February reduced productivity would delay more than 200 ship deliveries and vessel repairs.
Coronavirus infections have reduced in China with 44 new cases reported on 7 March compared with 99 on 6 March. However, there are more than 80,000 Covid-19 infections in China. The World Health Organization says more than 101,000 people worldwide have now contracted the virus and 3,500 people have died from the virus – the majority in the Chinese province of Hubei where the outbreak originated.