Monday, 28 April 2008

Hanjin launches first Subic-made ship

By Henry Empeño
The Business Mirror

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—South Korean shipbuilder Hanjin has launched the first ship ever to be built in its $1.6-billion shipyard here, buoying hopes among authorities here that Subic would soon be on its way to becoming a major industry player in the region.

The ship, a 4,300-TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) [note: TEU = total length of containers in feet divided by 20; a forty-foot container would be the equivalent of two TEUs] bulk carrier reportedly with a market value of $60 million, was launched early this month and is now undergoing outfitting and sea trials, said Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chairman Feliciano Salonga.

The carrier, temporarily designated by Hanjin as PN-001, is scheduled for christening by President Arroyo in a formal naming ceremony in May, Salonga said.

However, the ship now bears on its bow the name Argolikos, which is a small gulf off the east coast of Greece that opens into the Aegean Sea.

The word “Dioryx” is also inscribed amidships, referring to the Greek firm Dioryx Maritime Corp. that Salonga said has placed orders for at least six vessels to be built by Hanjin.

The launching of the first Subic-built bulk carrier came less than two years after Hanjin Heavy Industries Corp.-Philippines (HHIC-Phils.) broke ground for its shipyard project at Subic’s Redondo Peninsula and about 14 months after it cut the first steel for shipbuilding.

Salonga described this as a “remarkable achievement,” considering that most other shipbuilders would have taken at least 18 months after cutting steel to launch a ship of the same size.

PN-001 or Argolikos is designed for a maximum speed of 24.5 knots, or more than 45 kilometers per hour, which is considered fast for seagoing commercial vessels, said Salonga, a graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy and a commodore in the Coast Guard’s auxiliary corps.

Salonga said that after the naming ceremony, the ship will be delivered to Dioryx, the same client which has ordered five other ships from Hanjin.

He added that the Korean shipbuilder is also set to build 10 other vessels for various clients by 2010.

At the same time, Salonga stressed both the pride and economic impact that Hanjin’s shipbuilding operations bring to the Subic Bay Freeport.

“Considering that labor constitutes 40 percent of shipbuilding cost—and that 40 percent goes directly to the workers’ pockets—the industry provides a great beneficial effect on the lives of our people and local communities,” he said.

With the $60-million price tag on Argolikos, for example, around $24 million or approximately P984 million would go to workers’ salaries, Salonga said. The total financial windfall for workers from the 16 vessels already ordered from Hanjin would be “surely mind-boggling,” he added.

Salonga added that the first Subic-made vessel represents “one more feather in the SBMA’s cap.”

“With this as the first of 16 container ships that Hanjin is scheduled to build here, Subic is bolstering its bid to become a major shipbuilding site, as well as making a significant impact on the emergence of the country as a major shipbuilder in Southeast Asia,” he said.

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