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  • 2020 June 10

    Vyborg Shipyard head Aleksandr Solovyov: “We count on signing of new contracts”

    In his interview with IAA PortNews, Aleksandr Solovyov, General Director of Vyborg Shipyard, told about the company’s backlog of orders, causes of delay in construction of fishing ships and degree of their local content.

    - Mr Solovyov, could you please tell about Vyborg Shipyard’s order portfolio, which projects are in the process?

    - As of today, we are building all the eight trawlers of КМТ 01 and КМТ 02 designs contracted by Arkhangelsk Trawl Fleet. Their readiness ranges between 1% and 93%.

    The lead ship is undergoing pre-commissioning activities and mooring trials. We plan to hold sea trials this August and deliver the ship to the customer in late August – early September.

    Other trawlers are at various percentages of completion. Two trawlers laid down in 2020 are about 1% and 4% complete. The remaining ships are between 30% and 60% complete depending on the work schedule and progress.

    Actually, construction of all these trawlers is delayed just as the construction works at other shipyards.

    As for the backlog of new orders we are working towards signing a contract, or even several contracts, with new customers in the nearest future. So far, I cannot reveal the customers’ names.

    - You have mentioned falling behind the schedule. It has been widely discussed recently. Could you please account for such delays?

    - At the first phases for about a couple of years the construction process was strongly affected by delays in obtaining of documentation from the concept design developer, Norwegian designer which provides an extended concept design for all of our orders and for many orders of our colleagues. That should be attributed to the fact that despite construction of numerous fishing ships under those or similar projects they are not approved by Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RS). RS requirements are considerably different from those of let say DNV. Quite naturally, the Norwegian designs should be adjusted to the requirements of our Register. From our point of view, those requirements are absolutely logical, clear and executable. We have been successfully guided by them for many years without any questions.

    The Norwegian side had some questions, primarily organizational ones. There were numerous alterations in response to absolutely logical and correct remarks of RS. Finally, that resulted in the paperwork and construction delays. Design documentation was generally delayed by a year or up to a year and a half.

    Admittedly, not to over-colour, making the design RS compliant was among the most crucial issues but by no means the key one. It took very long time to obtain documentation and to approve supplies of special fishing equipment. Considerable amendments and delays were there as well.

    Just for understanding: about 7,000 notices of amendments have been issued for the lead trawler of КMТ 01 design. They certainly entail adjustments of ship construction process. Just imagine making changes for 7,000 times!

    The number of amendments decreases proportionally for other orders but taking into consideration more or less parallel implementation of all orders the delay affected all of them.

    - I took it that the customers opted for Norwegian designs difficult to correlate with the requirements of our classification society. Did you discuss it with the customers at the phase of order negotiations? Were they aware of the implications?

    - Of course. That is why, the customer is responsible for providing those documents to our shipyard and that is the same for most of our colleagues.

    In fact, there were no alternatives. Russia has actually no designs of fishing ships. No designs at all. So there were no alternatives to choose from, we had to work with what was available.

    - Can it be said that in case of more orders for fishing ships the process will be faster thanks to the practices available?

    - The process is going to be faster only in case of using unified designs as Aleksey Rakhmanov (USC President – Ed.) has recently said and he is absolutely right. If each customer chooses a new design that meets its requirements and wishes it should be acknowledged that any new design is the same trap. Such problems can be avoided if the designs are unified and serial production is ensured.

    Indeed, it is something we were to begin with. When defining the mechanism of investment quotas it was not correct to set forth an obligation of having ships built to any design only by Russian shipyards. The requirements to designs were to be unified. As more and more amendments are being issued for RF Government’s Decree No 719 it could be reasonable to speak about development of Russian designs, rather than Norwegian ones. However, what is done can't be undone.

    - Meanwhile, fishing companies say that each of them operates in specific conditions. Therefore, they need tailored designs for each fishing basin or region, hence the great number of lead ships.

    - There are two basins: the northern and the far eastern ones. The range of biological resources covered by investment quotas is limited as well which is specified by related regulations.

    The variations we are discussing are related to manufacturers of fish processing plants, manufacturers of ship equipment. Some like this manufacturer, some like the other. Some wish a certain diesel with other wishing a different steering engine. With a maximum unification we would have far less problems.

    - When it comes to ship equipment, what is the average local content on ships you are building?

    - About 10%, may be a little bit more, up to 15%.

    - What key units are not in production in Russia today? Which components of Russian origin are badly needed today?

    - Let's put it this way, Russia does not manufacture anything with fishery specifics like processing plants, trawl winches, special trawl gear. Actually, there is a pilot project being developed by our colleagues from Kronshtadt Shipyard. As far as I understand this equipment will be used on crab catching ships planned for keel-laying. Earlier, there was virtually nothing specifically intended for fishery in Russia.

    As for unsophisticated equipment such as covers, hatches, ladders and the like it is abundantly and successfully produced in Russia by numerous manufacturers. Pumps and accessories of Russian origin are also available to a certain extent.

    There are numerous manufacturers of steering engines in Russia but they are mostly involved in state defence sector with the prices reflecting it.

    The same is in the segment of medium-speed diesels. Everybody is sick and tired of its discussion. As of today, only one Russian company produces such engines on a massive scale, I mean the units of required power. Anyway, the scope of its production does not suffice.

    - Your modernization programme for 2020 provided for obtaining of  RUB 17 million from Industrial Development Fund. Is it being implemented today. Have any amendments been introduced into it?

    - Its implementation is in full swing. The programme comprises five big blocks: construction of a closed automated warehouse for metal, reconstruction of crane equipment in some workshops, replacement of assembly stands at the facility for assembling of heavy blocks, upgrading the fleet of slipway trolleys and technological upgrade of workshops, which is the most ambitious one. That means large-scale procurement of modern equipment.

    Some of tender procedures have been completed as well as advance payment. We expect the deliveries to begin in the nearest future.

    The process of the longest part, construction of the closed warehouse for metal, has been launched. We are currently selecting a contractor.

    Interviewed by Vutaly Chernov

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