• 2018 December 24

    Trust but phase out imports

    Russia is making much effort to upgrade its commercial fleet in almost all segments: small-size ships, port fleet, tugboats, dredgers, icebreakers, Arctic tankers, supply ships and vessels of mixed sea/river navigation. To ensure multiplicative effect for the Russian economy this process should be based on the development of domestic manufacture of shipboard equipment.

    Engines and propulsion units

    When answering the question of IAA PortNews, Aleksandr Solovyov, General Director of Vyborg Shipyard, said that the most urgent issue is the production of medium-speed diesel engines, especially those for Arctic ships. That is about 5-6 MW engines which are currently supplied by foreign manufactures, Wartsila and Man. 

    As Vitaly Konovalov, Sales Director of Wärtsilä Vostok, said at 2nd LNG Fleet and LNG Bunker in Russia Conference organized by IAA PortNews, Wärtsilä is developing a roadmap for localization of its equipment manufacture in Russia. “We are in negotiations with different Russian companies concerning localization. Several agreements of intent have been signed, the work on a roadmap is underway”, he said. 

    The first step of Wärtsilä was to launch local manufacture of frames for diesel-generator sets based on Wärtsilä 20 engines. Besides, Wärtsilä used generators of Russian origin to produces diesel-generator sets as part of some Russian projects.

    According to Vitaly Konovalov, the company’s competence covers LNG technologies for offshore and onshore systems. 

    Meanwhile, STM JSC (Sinara - Transport Machines), Russian machine-building holding, a division of Sinara Group has presented a new promising diesel engine, 6DM-185 which serves as a basis for expansion of gas fuel application. Russian Maritime Register of Shipping has already approved the documents for some of the models.

    The first ship with DM-185 engine is expected in 2020.

    Besides, Saint-Petersburg based Zvezda has created a range of diesel engines of new generation, М150 Pulsar. The marine engines are currently undergoing the tests. In particular, they are intended for propulsion units of RF Navy’s boats, commercial ships and diesel generator units.

    Pulsar products is expected to fully meet the tasks of imports substitution programme on diesel engines and diesel generator units of 400 to 1,700 kW.

    STM believes  that DM-185, М150 and steerable propellers of Russian origin can be used as a basis for creation of environmentally friendly propulsion unit with characteristics exceeding hose of foreign counterparts.

    United Shipbuilding Corporation, in its turn, is going to create competence centers in the first quarter of 2019 with one of them focused on construction of propulsion units basing on Design Bureau “Vint” and Severodvinsk based “Zvezdochka”.  It will specialize in manufacture of mechanical propulsion units of up to 6 MW.

    Meanwhile, specialists of Application Engineering and Training Center “Sapfir” (a part of Corporate Scientific and Project Complex of Rosneft) has joined hands with General Electric to design a an electric steerable propeller of 7.5 MW for multifunctional icebreaking supply vessels, IBSV 10022, being built by Shipbuilding Complex “Zvezda”.

    Materials, constructing

    As for production of steel for shipbuilding, Russia has achieved a considerable success. Moreover, foreign investors express their interest in this segment. HBIS Tangsteel (China) is going to invest RUB 100 billion in steel works to produce steel for shipbuilding with a focus on SC “Zvezda”. It is to be built in the Primorsky Territory.

    Russia is also developing production of composite materials for shipbuilding. Sredne-Nevsky Shipyard (a company of United Shipbuilding Corporation) has completely switched to shipbuilding based on domestic composite materials. Composite materials have approved themselves in shipbuilding. There is a wide range suppliers in Russia.

    Certain success is also seen in production of protective coats for vessels. This activity is being developed by Morozovsky Plant of Chemicals, Technological Systems of Protective Coats etc.

    Besides, USC is going to establish a competence center focused on production of ship furniture and interiors up to a luxery class.


    The process of imports substitution and localization should be based on innovations. Support of innovative companies is being provided through the MariNet Working Group of the National Technological Initiative.

    Moreover, the Ministry of Industry and Trade is going to establish a transnational corporation which is to comprise at least ten national companies specializing in marine robotics, digitalization, innovative technologies in shipbuilding and shipboard equipment.

    State support

    Regulatory framework ensuring he priority of vessels built in Russia will be a strong factor of imports substitution development. The Ministry of Industry and Trade is currently developing amendments into the Order of RF Government No 719 dated 17 July 2015 (revised on 13.03.2018) “On confirming Russian origin of industrial goods” and a supplement document, “Specifications of industrial products to be rated as goods manufactured in the Russian Federation”. 

    Besides, a center for phasing-out imports of shipboard equipment was established at the premises of CNII Kurs in late 2017. One of the key tasks of the Center is to create and promote a dedicated portal for a shipbuilding industry with a unified e-system of shipboard equipment. Through an e-catalogue it offers information about domestic manufacturers and speciafications of their equipment intended for shipbuilding and  imports substitution. 

    Key shipbuilding countries offer sound support programmes and protectionism to national manufacturers. 

    On the other hand, state support should not mean absence of active work on the part of manufacturers themselves.

    As it is known, the list of equipment used for certain ships is known at the stage of designing. Meanwhile, in some segments like that of fishing ships, domestic designs are not in demand.

    As Nikolai Shablikov, Deputy Head of the Department of Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, RF Ministry of Industry and Trade, said at the meeting of the interdepartmental working group on fishing ships construction matters, “our protection measures are focused particularly on Russian designers. Yet, nobody shows sufficient efforts”.

    One more problem to address is the following: the process of import substitution and increasing local content of components and equipment for Russian shipbuilding is hindered by undeveloped service offer of domestic and foreign manufactures moved to Russia. It was emphasized by Igor Shakalo, Vice President of the United Shipbuilding Corporation, at the National Oil & Gas Forum. 

    According to him, absence of reliable after-sale services is one of the reasons forcing the customers to use imported products.

    So, a lot has been done to phase out imports and to increase local content of ship components but even more is to be done yet. The success depends on two key factors: state support and reasonable protectionism as well as involvement of Russian manufacturers themselves, their focus on creation and promotion of competitive products.

    Vitaly Chernov