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Cochin Shipyard set to take a giant leap on global stage with new dry dock and repair facility

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KOCHI : India’s shipbuilding and ship repair capabilities will take a quantum leap with state-run Cochin Shipyard Ltd, India’s biggest shipbuilder by dock capacity, opening a new dry dock and an international ship repair facility in Kochi on Wednesday with a combined investment of Rs 2,769 crore – its largest investment yet in capacity expansion.

The Rs 1,799 crore new dry dock, the third in the Mumbai-listed yard and India’s largest, will put it in the elite list of global yards that can build large LNG carriers, Capesize and Suezmax vessels, oil rigs, semi submersibles and other large vessels.

The Rs 970 crore international ship repair facility at Willingdon Island in adjacent Cochin Port, also state-owned, will bolster India’s ship repair capacity and position it as a repair hub in the region.

“With these two projects, we are creating high grade infrastructure for the country,” said Mr. Madhu Nair, Chairman and Managing Director, Cochin Shipyard, who is credited with changing the stature of the Kochi-based yard from a sleepy, also ran yard into a shipbuilder of global repute by building India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier and other niche vessels encompassing innovative and new technology to promote green shipping.

Cochin Shipyard went public in 2017 and currently has a market capitalisation of about Rs 20,000 crores. The Union government holds 72.86 percent stake in the shipbuilder.

“These kinds of infrastructure projects will create positivity and belief for others in the system,” Mr. Nair told ET Infra, describing the new dry dock as a “symbol of national pride and a testament to the engineering and project management capabilities of the nation”.

Cochin Shipyard currently can build and repair ships of as much as 1,25,000 dead weight tons (DWT).

The new dry dock will start operations in May/June by laying the keel for a so-called trailing suction hopper dredger (TSHDs) having a hopper capacity of 12,000 cubic metres for state-owned Dredging Corporation of India Ltd (DCI), costing more than Rs 800 crore. TSHDs are used to maintain the channel of ports.

The dredger christened ‘DCI Dredge Brahmaputra’ will be constructed with technology and design support from IHC Holland B V, the world’s largest dredger builder.

This will be the first ‘Beagle 12’ TSHD of 12,000 cubic metre capacity designed by IHC to be built anywhere in the world. The new generation TSHD’s of IHC under the ‘Beagle’ series are highly popular and known to be efficient and highly reliable dredgers.

The 310 metres long dry dock has a width of 75/60 metres, depth of 13 metres and is equipped with 600-ton gantry crane, making it one of the largest such marine infrastructure in the region. The dock floor is designed to take a load of 600 tons every meter, helping it construct even larger aircraft carriers of 70,000-ton displacement. The dry dock can be utilised for ship construction as well as for ship repairs.

The dry dock was constructed by Larsen & Toubro Ltd, India’s biggest engineering and construction firm, while the 600-ton gantry crane was sourced from South Korea’s Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries Co., Ltd.

Dutch firm Haskoning DHV Consulting Pvt Ltd, was the consultant for the dry dock project.

“The dry dock is a strategic asset for the nation. Most importantly, it would eliminate critical dependency on foreign nations in case of an emergency national requirement,” Mr. Nair said, noting that the dock has a design life of 100 years.

Some 70,000 metric tons of steel were used to build the dry dock which is 10 times the quantity of steel used in Eiffel Tower; it can hold 242 million litres of water – equivalent to 95 Olympic size swimming pools; it has 5,000 RCC piles – almost 26 times the number of piles installed in Burj Khalifa, and about 5,50,000 cubic metres of excavated material were disposed into the sea – equivalent to relaying 300 football fields. The dry dock has electric cables that runs almost 80 kms and service pipelines running some 20 kms.

The new dry dock will play a key role in skill development for the construction and repair of very large and specialised ships and complex marine structures.

It will generate direct employment for around 2,000 persons with a multiplier effect of 5-6 times and facilitate development of many ancillary and supporting industries as well as micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME’s) besides boosting the local economy.

The international ship repair facility built on 42 acres of land leased from Cochin Port Authority, has a ship lift and transfer system of 6,000-ton capacity suitable for handling vessels of maximum size – 130 metres x 26 metres. It has six workstations which would facilitate independent and simultaneous repair of six vessels, thereby enabling the facility to undertake repairs of some 84 ships in a year.

The new facility will help boost India’s ship repair capacity by some 25 percent, which can be further expanded, Nair said.

It will cater to the more than 2,000 Indian owned vessels operating in Indian waters, generating a resident demand for ship repair activities locally.

Further, it will tap the ship repair needs of the defence sector such as the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, Border Security Force, Coastal Police and naval vessels of friendly nations operating in the region.

Moreover, hundreds of vessels calling Indian ports would also require repair and maintenance support. The facility’s proximity to the international sea route connecting Southeast Asia to the Middle East would be a key attraction for international ships, thereby making Kochi a global destination for ship repairs.

The ship repair facility will be on par with those available in Dubai Maritime Centre, China and Singapore, creating a big impetus and multiplier effect, including development of ancillary industries in the region, Nair said.

The international ship repair facility will generate direct employment for about 2,000 persons with a multiplier effect of 5-6 times.

Germany’s Inros Lackner SE and Tata Consulting Engineers Ltd were the project management consultants for the ship repair facility.

The construction of the ship repair facility was originally awarded to Simplex Infrastructures Ltd. But, more than halfway through the construction, Simplex Infrastructures became bankrupt, and the balance project work was carried out by Kochi-based RDS Project Ltd.

The repair facility’s ship lift and transfer system was sourced from a consortium of IMG, Germany and Syncrolift AS, Norway. The Level Luffing Crane were bought from CJSC SMM, Russia and tower cranes from Liebherr, Germany.

The new dry dock and the international ship repair facility, according to Nair, will propel Kochi as a one stop maritime hub for building and repair of all types of vessels.

Kochi will become a truly global centre of excellence,” Mr. Nair said, adding that the yard is a “debt-free” company despite taking up the huge capacity expansion projects.

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