A new generation of 5,000dwt singledeckers will be built in Colombo for Norway. (Credit: Wartsila Ship Design).A new generation of 5,000dwt singledeckers will be built in Colombo for Norway. (Credit: Wartsila Ship Design).

Sri Lankan shipbuilder Colombo Dockyard has scored a major success on the European market by landing a potential 10-vessel deal with a Norwegian shortsea specialist, writes David Tinsley.

The contract award from Misje Eco Bulk calls for six 5,000dwt dry cargo vessels and carries options on a further four newbuilds. The project has added significance for the design’s technological level, since the ships will adopt a hybrid powering arrangement to better ensure long-term regulatory compliance and competitiveness.

On a length of just under 90m, the singledeckers will provide for the range of bulk commodities, including timber and steel products plus unit loads.

The concept and basic design has been developed by the Norwegian arm of Wartsila Ship Design, and a fundamental aim has been to provide an edge over existing vessels of the same size as regards emissions performance. Central to this objective is the nomination of a four-stroke main diesel engine complemented by an electric hybrid solution delivering power through a bank of batteries. System integrator is Norwegian Electric Systems which had early contact with Misje as to the latter’s particular eco requirements. Detailed and production design will be the province of the Colombo yard.

The lead ship in the programme is scheduled for handover 18 months’ hence, to be followed by subsequent vessels at four-month intervals.

Misje Eco Bulk is a subsidiary of Bergen-based Kare Misje & Co, a family-owned Norwegian firm which controls a group of companies spanning the various fields. Misje Rederi is responsible for management services, Misje Chartering handles the trading and deployment of the vessels, and manning is undertaken by an affiliate in the Russian Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad. The fleet comprises some 15 bulk dry cargo ships in the 4,000-5,000dwt range, predominantly dating from the 1990s.

One strand of Colombo Dockyard’s new business strategy has been to target the European market, with particular reference to demand for smaller classes of vessels displaying greater technical sophistication, such as the cargo vessel tonnage for Norway, cable-laying and repair ships, and service operation vessels for the offshore energy sector.

The yard showed its mettle last year through the completion of its longest vessel and most valuable contract to date, the 113m ocean cable-layer KDDI Cable Infinity. The commercial consequence of the deal was all the greater for having emanated from the Japanese market, since companies there rarely source specialised tonnage abroad.

Colombo Dockyard itself is corporately linked with Japan, since its majority shareholder and technical collaborator is Onomichi Dockyard. The Sri Lankan Government maintains a vested interest, through a 35% stake in the Colombo shiprepair, shipbuilding and heavy engineering organisation.

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