Tue, Nov 26, 2019 - Page 2 News List

FEATURE: Floundering at first, CSBC rises back to deliver maritime research vessels

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

The R/V New Ocean Researcher 2 is pictured at CSBC Corp Taiwan's Keelung Yard yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Building research vessels helped CSBC Corp, Taiwan’s (CSBC) Keelung Yard endure a period of struggling, company officials said, adding that the experience also prepared it for building higher-end ships as it has been selected to build indigenous defense submarines.

The shipyard has a history stretching back to the Japanese colonial period before it was acquired by the company.

The largest shipbuilder in Taiwan, CSBC was established as a state-run firm in 1973 before becoming a private enterprise in 2008.

After several reorganizations, the company is now headquartered in Kaohsiung, with shipyards in Kaohsiung’s Siaogang District (小港) and on Keelung’s Heping Island (和平島).

Amid a declining global shipbuilding industry, the Keelung Yard has received fewer orders for merchant ships over the past two years, CSBC project manager for research vessels Shih Yen-hui (施炎輝) told the Taipei Times on Nov. 11.

Fortunately, it won the Ministry of Science and Technology’s tender for three new research vessels and started their construction in January last year, he said.

At a ceremony yesterday, the company delivered two 811-tonne vessels, the R/V New Ocean Researcher 2 and the R/V New Ocean Researcher 3, to the ministry, which is to transfer them to National Taiwan Ocean University and National Sun Yat-sen University’s College of Marine Sciences for management.

The 2,155-tonne R/V New Ocean Researcher 1 is scheduled to be delivered next year and would be managed by National Taiwan University’s (NTU) Institute of Oceanography.

CSBC is not the first Taiwanese company to build vessels for local research.

The R/V Ocean Researcher II and R/V Ocean Researcher III, which the new vessels would replace, were built by Ching Fu Shipbuilding Co, which in 2017 became entangled in a scandal involving naval minesweepers.

The R/V Ocean Researcher V built by Jong Shyn Shipbuilding Co was shipwrecked east of the outlying Penghu County while returning to the Port of Anping (安平港) in Tainan in 2014.

CSBC had not built such small and sophisticated ships as research vessels, as it used to build merchant ships, whose instruments and sea trials are easier to tackle, Shih said.

The most challenging part of building the research vessels was installing state-of-the-art research instruments in the limited space aboard, he said.

As the instruments and some of the devices were imported from different countries — such as Australia, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland, South Korea and the US — the first challenge was to ensure that they could be delivered to Taiwan on time so that construction could proceed according to schedule, he said.

The research instruments, including multibeam echo sounders, as well as sonar and profiling systems, were new to him, Shih said.

After installing and testing the imported devices, CSBC invited the manufacturing firms’ engineers to confirm that they functioned properly and train the vessels’ operators, as required by its contract with the ministry, he said.

The company was required to meet ship specifications and standards decided by several parties — the ministry, the CR Classification Society and the American Bureau of Shipping — to obtain certificates, he said.

As it lacked experience in coordinating such matters, CSBC had to make the vessels larger to accommodate the instruments while ensuring that the ships would be stable, Shih said, adding that it might have to pay millions of New Taiwan dollars for breaching contracts.

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