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  • 2023 June 30

    Mikhail Pershin: Krasnoye Sormovo can build and deliver 12 dry cargo ships per year

    In June 2023, the shipbuilding portfolio of Nizhny Novgorod based Krasnoye Sormovo shipyard (part of USC) was increased with the order for 34 dry cargo ships of Project RSD59. The contract was signed with State Transport Leasing Company (GTLK) at Petersburg International Economic Forum.

    It is the largest series in the history of USC. According to Denis Manturov, Minister of Industry and Trade, 34 dry cargo carrier are to increase the fleet and the volumes of cargo carried by sea and inland water ways.

    Mikhail Pershin, General Director of Krasnoye Sormovo, tells IAA PortNews about the shipyard’s current backlog of orders, delivery plans for this year and the personnel issues.

    — Mr Pershin, could you please tell about the shipyard’s backlog of orders? What ships are to be delivered in 2023?

    — As of today, Krasnoye Sormovo shipyard is building 8 ships of Project RSD59 under the contract with State Transport Leasing Company (GTLK). All of them are to be delivered by the end of autumn 2023.

    The Aleksandr Udalov is completing the trials with the delivery scheduled for early July. Two more ships, numbered 35 and 36, will also be delivered to the customer in July after the sea trials. Ships numbered 37-40 will be fitted with equipment and we are going to deliver them by the end of October.

    Founded in 1849, Krasnoye Sormovo PJSC is one of the oldest shipyards in Russia. Over 75 years Krasnoye Sormovo has built and upgraded over three hundred submarines and rescue vehicles including 25 nuclear-powered ones. Today, the shipyard builds commercial ships complying with the requirements of international conventions on reliability and safety.

    I remind that our company is also building five crab catching and processing ships of Project КСП01 ordered by North West Fishing Consortium under the federal investment programme “keel quotas”. The nearest plans of the shipyard include the delivery of crab catcher Vaygach.

    Vaygach is the lead ship in the series. On June 16, it was sent to Vyborg Shipyard for outfitting and sea trials upon completion of which it will be delivered to the customer.

    In the end of last year, Krasnoye Sormovo and GTLK signed a contract for construction of three cruise liners of Project 00840 Karelia. The construction of the liners is supported by RF Government. On 16 June 2023, we held an official keel-laying of the third passenger ship in the series. Under the contract, the ships are to be delivered in 2025 and 2026. 

    This year, we are going to lay down two crab catchers, the 4th and the 5th ones. Their design elaboration is underway and it is to be completed in the near time.

    I would also like to mention the contract signed by Krasnoye Sormovo shipyard and State Transport Leasing Company (GTLK) at Petersburg International Economic Forum held in June 2023. It foresees the construction of a series of 34 dry cargo carriers of Project RSD59. It is the largest series in the history of United Shipbuilding Corporation.

    — So, the shipyard has a big number of orders. How many units can be built at the shipyard simultaneously?

    — The shipyard is currently building the ships I have mentioned. The contracted ships NoNo 41, 42 of Project RSD59 for GTLK and cab catchers NoNo 2,3 are currently on the stocks. Passenger ship of Project Karelia will also go to the stocks.

    The cycles of various ships are different, of course. For example, the construction time of RSD59 ships has been reduced from 9 to 6 months, from the steel cutting to the delivery. Thus, with schedule of the stocks, the shipyard can build and deliver 12 dry cargo ships per year taking into account the navigation period according to which we start sending ships for sea trials in April and stop it not later than in mid-November.

    — You say the shipyard has secured orders for several cruise ships. What is the specifics of their construction?

    — The key specifics is in fitting of general ship systems and points of access to the equipment into the design project since the appearance requirements are tougher for passenger ships.

    As of today, the shipyard is absolutely ready for the construction of the new series of cruise ships. The required competence was obtained during the construction of Russia’s first cruise liner, Mustai Karim of Project PV300, which was launched by Krasnoye Sormovo in 2019.

    — What about the progress in construction of crab catchers?

    — Until now, there were no domestically produced crab catchers in our country — they were purchased abroad. The first Russian fishing ship of this kind was built by Krasnoye Sormovo.  Project КСП01 was developed by Marine Engineering Bureau - SPb. The crab catching and processing is intended for catching various crab species at the depth between 20 and 400 meters. And for freezing of the product onboard the ship at the sea. The ship equipment can catch and process up to 60 tonnes of Kamchatka crab project day. The area of operation is the North Atlantic including the Barents Sea, the Norwegian Sea, the Greenland Sea and the Arctic seas.

    As I have said, the lead ship named Vaygach has been sent to Vyborg for outfitting, mooring and sea trials. Ships No2 and No3 are currently under construction, ships No4 and No5 are to be laid down this year.

    As contracted, the customer will get the Vaygach this year, two serial crab catchers will be delivered in 2024, two more units – in 2026 due to the alteration of the project for catching and transportation of live crab.

    — Are there any unsolved issues with replacement of previously imported equipment and components?

    — By today, alternatives have been found for all sanctioned equipment. The suppliers are from Russia, China and Turkey. The problem of equipment supply to our ships under construction has stabilized. There are issues related to already imported equipment. The main thing is software for launching and start-up of equipment installed on ships with a warranty.

    — Mr Pershin, how do you solve the staffing issues. What specialists are in the highest demand?

    — Almost 3,600 people work at the shipyard. We currently work with about 60 vacancies, the total need is about 500 people. At the moment, there is an additional need for employees, both blue-collars and engineering personnel due to the growth of production. There is little need for office workers because the turnover is less there.

    It should be noted that all companies have recently been facing a turnover of blue-collars, there is also a shortage of professional workers, highly qualified workers. We can say that now there are not so many specialists with the skills we need on the labor market. Therefore, we hire people, not only help them adapt, but also train the job we need. We also train graduates of educational institutions taking into account our needs.

    The shipyard workers, especially young employees, always have an opportunity of professional growth, both vertical and horizontal. Since last year, the company has been implementing a personnel reserve programme. We plan to bring it to a higher level, we will evaluate the personnel. Our plans also include the formation of a personnel reserve from among the students who come to us for a practical training, so that they could start working on a flexible schedule while studying in their last years. So, by the end of the training, we will get a ready employee, an experience, adapted and immersed in the company’s production process.

    The shipyard has a mentoring system, a mentor is given to each student. Moreover, if an employee moves to another position, he can also use the help of a mentor. USC has prepared a new regulation on mentoring. It divides the support system into two areas: a mentor for adaptation of an employee and a mentor for industrial training. We will implement this innovation in the near future.

    Besides, our company has a training center. Now we are restructuring it. We have opened the School of Machine Tools and the School of Welders, we are changing the curricula, and we are re-equipping it to fit the realities of the time. I'll explain why. Those programmes we had earlier are targeted at people with a certain level of theoretical knowledge in their profession. However, we face a situation in the labor market when we have to employ those with a minimum knowledge and skills. Therefore, the training center ensures comprehensive training of employees for the needs of the shipyard, including using distance technologies and the e-learning system on the Moodle platform.

    We also offer targeted training at Nizhny Novgorod State Technical University n.a. R.E. Alekseev and VSUWT with further employment by Krasnoye Sormovo PJSC.

    In 2021, a shipbuilding education cluster was established with a focus on further employees. It includes the schools of Sormovo District in Nizhny Novgorod, Nizhny Novgorod State Technical University n.a. R.E. Alekseev, VSUWT, Sormovo Mechanical College, Nizhny Novgorod Polytecnical College and institutions of additional education. Starting from the secondary school, the children attend additional classes focused on shipbuilding, including classes at the shipyard, listen to lectures by teachers from specialized universities. High schoolers carry out their first scientific works under the guidance of specialists from Krasnoye Sormovo and employees of NSTU and VSUVT.

    — How is the modernization programme going on? What automated and robotized areas are currently available at the shipyard? What are you planning to do in the near future?

    — The company modernization is systematic and regular. For example, in 2023, we introduced a plasma cutting machine (straight cut) to reduce the number of small parts with complex contours. Prior to this, they were made through numerous operations (guillotining, curved marking, gas cutting, stripping) and sites for transfer from position to position. An annual effect has been obtained from the introduction of plasma cutting.

    Plate bending equipment with variable geometry hydraulic rollers, produced in Korea, was put into operation at the shipyard last year. It allows for elimination of additional edge breaking for welding.

    Equipment for aluminum welding, hairpins, power sources are acquired regularly as they wear out.

    The shipyard has several automated sections including mechanized line of horizontal type for cleaning and priming of sheet and profiled metal (in service from 2008), and a robotic line for cutting profiled metal with a minimum part length of 400 mm (in service from 2012).

    There is a mechanized line for the manufacture of double bottom sections of 12,000 x 18,000 mm (in service from 2005) and a specialized section for the manufacture of frame set units, equipped with two stationary robots for welding and a mobile robot for welding reinforcements on keelsons and stringers up to 12,000 mm long.

    An Italian automated line for the production of T-beams with a reverse bending device to reduce flange and wall deformations was put into operation in 2013. The company has a robotized section for manufacturing flanges (with two centers: milling and turning ones). The supply of blanks to the machines, the transfer from machine to machine, and the removal of finished flanges onto a pallet is carried out by a robot.

    In in 2024-2033, under an ad hoc programme, it is planned to purchase a robotic line for cutting profiled metal products with a minimum length of 250 mm and a conveyor with a carrying capacity of 200 tonnes for transporting finished sections from assembly and welding shops to the stocks. Besides, two plasma cutting machines showing high physical wear and facing difficulty in obtaining the required components as they are phased out (these two machines are in service from 2006 and 2008) are to be replaced with new rotary plasma cutting machines.

    We also plan the modernization of the hydraulic testing site, acquisition and introduction of a CNC pipe bending machine with a set of technological equipment.

    — According to the financial report for the first quarter of 2023, the company’s loss increased. What caused that?

    — The loss of the first quarter of 2023 was in Civil Products segment including the construction of dry cargo ships of Project RSD59 and crab catchers of Project КСП01. As of the reporting date, the estimate of these projects’ cost grew significantly due to changes in ruble exchange rates, a general increase in the cost of purchased materials, equipment and components, and an increase in the construction time of ships due to non-delivery of equipment amid the foreign economic sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation.

    Nevertheless, sales volumes in the segment of civil shipbuilding and special engineering products is expected to grow this year. Taking into account the orders included in the Production Programme for 2023 with a significant share RSD59 and KSP01 projects, as well as passenger liners of project 00840 Karelia, it is planned to achieve positive financial and economic results by the end of this year.

    Photos contributed by the press center of Krasnoye Sormovo shipyard

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Kristina Tkacheva