Shipbuilding Asia

Shipbuilding Asia

The Vietnam option

As demand has left western shipyards with orderbooks stretching a couple of years into the future, a new option is being presented by a group of companies harnessing capacity to build complete fishing vessels in the Far East.

Quentin Bates

The first completed fishing vessel has already been completed by Shipbuilding Asia (SBA) as Atlantic Titan has been delivered to Cyril Piercey in Canada, built in Vietnam and shipped as deck cargo on a freighter to St Johns, where it was craned into the water – with only a few minor details to be finished before it was ready to leave for its first trip.

The venture has brought together a group of companies, including Kort Propulsion and Macduff Ship Design, which provided the design work for Atlantic Titan, and there are already a number of further new vessels on the way.

Macduff Ship Design provided Atlantic Titan's design, with the detailed design work done at the Hai-Long yard

What makes this approach different is that the process is fast, and it was Atlantic Titan’s owner Cyril Piercey who sparked the process by placing the first order. He was looking to build a new vessel – decided that the build speed and price offered by the group was an attractive proposition.

The speed of construction is undoubtedly a significant selling point now that fishing in Europe and elsewhere is doing well after a spell of a number of tough years – and many of the established yards building for the fishing market already have orderbooks stretching several years ahead.

‘We can have steel in the shipyard in six weeks and with the equipment delivered on time, we can have the completed vessel delivered to Europe within twelve months,’ said Dave Parsons of Kort Propulsion.

Atlantic Titan secured for delivery to Canada

What makes the difference is that construction takes place at the Hai-Long shipyard in Vietnam, one of a group of nine state-owned shipyards within the SBIC group, and the Hai-Long yard alone has a 1600-strong workforce.

‘The capacity is there for us to call on, and the workforce available is as good as unlimited,’ he said.

Suppliers have also been at the heart of the venture, with a greater level of involvement than simply delivering standard items of equipment, and Dave Parsons said that initially Kort Propulsion had been approached to supply the propeller, but the upshot was that they delivered Atlantic Titan’s entire propulsion system, as well as becoming one of the companies behind establishing Shipbuilding Asia.

Fitting the Bopp net drums during Atlantic Titan's construction

Now a series of two 15 metre and three 19 metre crabbers are under construction at the yard in Vietnam, to be delivered to the UK towards the end of this year. Also in build is the first of three 37 metre fish farm service vessels, plus a sister vessel to Atlantic Titan.

Veteran UK boatbuilder Don Fullerlove, who has a long track record of supplying fishing vessels at the smaller end of the scale, is closely involved in the venture and was immediately struck by the possibilities offered by building in Vietnam.

He explained that he had already negotiated contracts for the five crabbing vessels with the builds ready to go – until the owners of that shipyard took the unexpected decision to pull the plug, abruptly closing it down.

Capacity at the Hai-Long yard is 'as good as unlimited'

He set out to search for alternative build opportunities, came across the Vietnam option as Shipbuilding Asia was coming together as a new venture, and hasn’t been disappointed by what he has seen.

‘The price is competitive,’Don Fullerlove said.

‘Plus there’s no compromise on quality and this is as good or better than anything you’d see from a yard in Europe. Steel is from Korea, and all produced with full approval. There’s MCA and Seafish oversight all the way through the construction process, as Bureau Veritas have an office on-site at the yard and inspections are carried out there. So for UK customers, the new vessels are delivered with inspections already carried out.’

SBA also has a full-time presence at the Hai-Long yard, which he said has staff with first-class skills.

‘A lot of their people are UK trained. Macduff did the design work for Atlantic Titan, but detailed design work was all done locally and it’s world-class stuff,’ he said.