Not only are Chinese shipyards winning an increasing number of international orders for passenger ships, they are applying advanced technologies
The orderbook for cruise ships and ferries being built in China has grown rapidly over the last few years – and this is only set to continue.
The orderbook, as revealed by BRL Consultants, shows a wide range of ferries on it, with many of the contracts signed last year. The most recent ones, signed in 2019, include three for Samso-Linien and three for Aran Island Ferries. Eleven ferries have also been contracted for Chinese domestic companies.
TT-Line ordered one ropax ferry last year and one this year with Jinling shipyard. Jinling is also building a series of ferries for Finnlines and Grimaldi Group, all signed in 2018, as well as two ferries for DFDS, set to be delivered this year.
Other notable contracts include the series of ropax ferries AVIC Weihai is building for Stena RoRo and Viking Line’s LNG-fuelled ferry, being built at Xiamen Shipyard and due for delivery in 2020.
Complex technology evolution
As well as a booming orderbook, Chinese yards are evolving in the terms of the complex technology used. Rederi AB Gotland’s Visborg was delivered this year. It is the first LNG-powered ropax built in a Chinese yard and is the largest LNG-powered ferry in domestic service. It scooped the Shippax technology and design award 2019.
It is an evolution of earlier vessels built in the same yard for the operator but is far more complex with new features including safe return to port. Furthermore, the ship reached 31 knots in trials, a top speed ranking for an LNG-powered conventional ropax vessel.
It uses 7% less propulsion power than other vessels in the fleet but its gross tonnage increased by almost 9%. It was built by GSI shipyard and designed by OSK ShipTech, with Steen Friis Design, part of OSK Group, carrying out the interior design.
“Being the most powerful of its kind, Visborg marks a new era for the Scandinavian-Asian collaboration between us as designers, owners Rederi AB Gotland, and builders GSI,” says OSK Group chief technical officer Kristian Lind. “I am immensely proud of the technical design team who has ensured a significant reduction in fuel consumption as well as CO2, NOx and SOx emissions.”
The partnership between European companies and Chinese yards is a strong trend for both European ferries and cruise ships being built in China. Stena has ordered eight ropax ships with four optional vessels at AVIC Weihai shipyard, representing the shipyard’s first ever ferry order.
Finnish naval architect and ship design company Deltamarin, which has a close relationship with AVIC Weihai Shipyard, has designed Stena’s ferries.
AVIC Weihai Shipyard vice president Eric Deng says “AVIC Weihai Shipyard focuses on high value-added and high-tech products such as ropax, roro ship and engineering ships and aims to be a first-class and international shipyard in this field. Because of the close relationship with Deltamarin, the size of the organisation and the methods they employ led to a highly technologically driven way of approaching design and delivery that we continue to sustain today.”
He adds that with the strong support of Deltamarin, which has allowed the shipyard to learn from European good practice, “AVIC Weihai shipyard plans to be a leading Chinese shipyard in the roro ship and passenger shipbuilding market”.
The ships being built for Stena RoRo are technically advanced.
Explaining the technical innovations on the Stena newbuilds, Mr Deng says the efficient hull form and propulsion will have “very advanced” EEDI compared to the current IMO index requirement.
Two of the ferries will be LNG dual-fuelled, while the rest will be gas-ready. The first vessel to be LNG-fuelled will have its steel cut next year.
So successful is the design of the ferries, the service speed power demand they will achieve will be 10% over what was required by Stena in the contract.
The number of ferries being built in China is currently way ahead of the cruise ship orders. Currently on the orderbook are four ships for SunStone Ships and two for Carnival Cruise Line as well as two cruise ships, one for a Chinese company and another for Japan.
Cruise order boost
This could be about to change though. Last year a contract for two cruise ships to be built for Carnival Corp’s new Chinese cruise line was signed – marking a milestone as they will be the first units of this kind ever made in China for the Chinese market.
The newbuilds, valued at about US$1.5Bn, not counting the options for an additional four vessels, will be built by Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co (SWS), a subsidiary of China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC).
The joint venture, set up by Fincantieri and CSSC Cruise Technology Development Co (CCTD), will grant a technology licence of the ship model platform and provide a series of technical services to SWS, including project management, supply chain management and sales of fundamental systems and components of the ship.
The design will be tailored for the specific tastes of Chinese travellers and for CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping Limited, the new Chinese cruise brand of the joint venture between Carnival Corporation and CSSC, which will also operate the units. The first delivery is expected in 2023.
Costa Group and Carnival Asia group chief executive Michael Thamm adds “The new cruise joint venture complements our existing presence in the market and strengthens our commitment to help China build a holistic ecosystem and become a leading global cruise market”.
CSSC chairman Lei Fanpei says “Through the partnership with leading international enterprises, we will build a whole industrial chain including the cruise ship design and building, operations and supply chain, jointly promote policy environment improvements and create an ecosystem that will nurture the sustainable growth of the cruise industry. Our co-operation continues to receive great support from the Chinese Government at both the central and local levels.”
The importance of China was also emphasised at Seatrade Cruise Global in April this year at the state of the industry keynote opening session.
Carnival Corp chief executive Arnold Donald said of China “It is going well for us… we are very excited that we have a joint venture with CSSC. We have a great relationship with them and are very much looking forward to our first Chinese-branded cruise company.”
He said the first cruise ships for this joint venture were likely to be launched in 2020, while its first ships to be built in a Chinese yard would be launched in 2023. “That will be the catalyst,” he said.
Asked about whether Chinese travellers had different demands, he said “Really, like any other traveller, they want to experience a different culture”.
While Royal Caribbean Cruises chief executive Richard Fain said it was only very recently that Chinese people have “gone after kind of vacation we are used to, there has been an explosion of that and it is one of the fastest growing of our markets and one of the most successful”.