After a long period of stagnation Russia has at last embarked on wide-scale construction of civil vessels. However, the process of fleet renovation can be hindered by low content of serial construction and imbalance between different types of transport.
More than 1,000 ships and marine equipment units were built between 2010 and 2018 under the orders of state and private companies. 276 units were financed by the federal budget and about 100 units – by local budgets with the rest financed by non-budget sources.
In the reporting period, investments into construction of civil ships and marine equipment totaled RUB 358 billion with the federal budget accounting for only 15% and local budgets for 2%. So, private investors, Russian shipping companies, have injected RUB 294 billion over the recent eight years.
Russia has also begun building passenger ships, mostly vessels of low passenger capacity. In this segment, the customers took delivery of 141 ships including boats. The federal budget financed the construction of almost a half of passenger ships - 69 units. Local budgets invested in construction of 11 ships.
Striving for serial construction
One of the key problems of domestic shipbuilding is the absence of large scale series typical for the soviet period. The largest series built from 2010 were those of sea/river class ships.
The most popular among the customers were the sea/river class tankers of Project RST 27 designed by Marine Engineering Bureau. 37 ships of this project have been in Russia including 23 tankers built by Krasnoye Sormovo shipyard and 14 – by Okskaya shipyard. The vessels are designed for mixed (river-sea) shipping of liquid bulk crude and oil products, including gasoline (without limitation as to flashpoint) as well as vegetable oils, with simultaneous carriage of two types of cargo. Overall length of the vessel is 140.8 meters, river/sea deadweight is 5,400/7,000 tonnes accordingly.
Another leader in terms of the number of newbuilings is Project RSD 44 designed by the same company. Okskaya shipyard has built 10 ships of that project. It is a 5,700 DWT dry cargo carrier of Volga-Don Max class, Heroes of Stalingrad type. The vessels are intended for transportation of general and bulk cargo including 20-foot and 40-foot containers of up to 9.5 foot high, metal, scrap, grain, lumber, sawn timber, potash and mineral fertilizers, nitrate fertilizers, sulfur, coal, paper, building materials, over-size cargo.
One more tanker project of Marine Engineering Bureau - RST 54 (cargo capacity of 5,300 tonnes). A series of seven ships were build by Okskaya Shipyard OJSC under the order of BF Tanker LLC and B.F. Cargo Shipping LLC.
The project of Krasnoye Sormovo shipyard’s own engineering center was implemented in a series ordered by a large Russian shipping company, V.F. Tanker (a company of UCL holding). Nizhny Novgorod based Krasnoye Sormovo built eight tankers of Project 19614. The ships with cargo capacity of 5,000 tonnes are being successfully operated at inland water ways of the Russian Federation.
Quite a big series of 13 scientific research ships, Project NS18-RGM, has been built for Russia’s Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (Roshydromet) by Olimp shipyard (OJSC Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Yard named after S.N. Butyakov). This small size research ship designed by Novaya Sudoverf and Sea Tech companies is intended for hydrometeorological and hydrochemical surveys, supply of expedition teams and cargoes to the areas of surveys. The vessels are operating in the mouths of rivers and in the near-shore zones of seas with waves of up to 4 points.
In the segment of sea-going ships, the largest series (excluding the boats) is the one of small size trawler-seiners of the Nelma type. The series numbers 15 units built by Shipyard named after October Revolution. Construction of such ships began in 1977. Several units were delivered to the USSR Navy. From 1995, vessels of this project have been equipped with 225 h. p. engine. The ships are intended for catching fish and calmar. Overall length of the ship is 21.9 meters.
Relatively large series of fishing ships and vessels of mixed navigation are under construction because of the critical age of vessels in this segment and due to state support measures allowing for the mass fleet renovation.
In the auxiliary fleet, the largest series is that of Project 3050 buoy tenders. 39 vessels of the series were built by Moscow Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Yard, Samus Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Yard, Shipyard named after October Revolution and Zhigalovo Shipyard.
A noteworthy series of four state-of-the-art rescue ships designed by Marine Engineering Bureau - Design SPB was built by Nevsky Shipyard: Spasatel Karev, Spasatel Kavdeykin, SpasatelZaborshchikov and Spasatel Demidov. Those multi-functional 4MW rescue ships are operating in seaports of Russia, make long voyages and take part in rescue operations.
Swimming into the future
A general conclusion is the following: in recent years Russia has managed to start mass renovation of its civil fleet. Among the key challenges is a content of serial construction and availability of long and cheap money. State support measures including subsidies to cover loan and leasing interest rates as well as ship utilization grants and a programme of priviledge leasing are supposed to help. Moreover, the segment of mixed river/sea shipping is competing with the railway transport with this competition able to hinder the development of shipbuilding.