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Spanish Maritime Report

A focus on higher value, specialized vessel types has been the cornerstone of strategy in Spanish shipbuilding for some years. While state-owned Astilleros Espaholes (AESA) has successfully developed a number of niche markets, the private sector has nurtured business across a broad platform, and continued to build on longstanding skills in meeting the comprehensive requirements of the fisheries industry. The intensification of competition from the Far East, however, is a major concern to AESA in particular, writes technical editor David Tinsley.

Independent Boosts Fleet Spain's largest private shipowner, the Fernandez-Tapias group, has initiated a new stage in the development of the country's deepsea fleet by ordering Suezmax-class tonnage in South Korea. Its Madrid-based shipping arm, Naviera F Tapias, recently entrusted a second 158,000-dwt tanker to Daewoo Heavy Industries, the opening deal having been awarded last July.

Group head Fernando Fernandez- Tapias oversees an organization with broad-based interests, including food, plastics and travel agency, and has fostered the expansion of shipping activities since entering the market in 1991. The purchase of the Spanish subsidiary of pre-eminent Danish operator A.P. Moller, together with its ships, had provided the original platform on which to build. One year later, in mid 1992, Tapias took over Servicios Auxiliares de Puertos (Sertosa) and its extensive tug operations. Subsequent investment has been such that Tapias is now reckoned to account for around one-third of the Spanish mercantile fleet.

The company had displayed a forward- looking approach through an early involvement in the European shipbuilding industry's technologicallyadvanced, E3 'green tanker' program.

Astilleros Espanoles (AESA) had played a central role in the project, which was subsequently overtaken by market events.

Fernando Fernandez-Tapias is a strong advocate of Spanish industry at large, in his role as president of the Confederacion Empresarial Independiente de Madrid, and observes that more than 80 percent of the country's overseas trade is carried in foreignowned ships. "Spain's merchant marine has a very low capacity compared to Spain's transport requirements," he confirms. However, he is of the view that the country's remaining owners have a more solid base than they had 10 years ago. "The shipowners who have survived are much more competitive now," Fernandez-Tapias told BV World, the house magazine of classification society Bureau Veritas. "And although there is no consistent government policy on shipping, the special register in the Canary Islands has helped us a lot to regain our competitive position." Spain's Naval Gijon Shipyard.

Atunsa's 180-m Doniene was the first tuna seiner to receive Reintjes' gear. Naviera F Tapias has particular strengths in the Suezmax category, as represented primarily in its ownership of tankers of 135,000-147,000 dwt dating from the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s.

The two 158,000-dwt vessels under construction at Daewoo's Okpo yard are scheduled for completion during the second-half of 2000, and will have main dimensions of 899 ft. (274 m) length overall, 157.4 ft. (48 m) molded breadth and 76 ft. (23.2 m) depth. The propulsion plant will be a six-cylinder model of the MAN B&W low-speed S70MC type.

ISM Many Spanish shipowners, not least the leading independent tanker operator Fernando Fernandez-Tapias, regard class as an aid to implementing and maintaining ISM Code requirements. Classification societies have not been authorized to handle ISM certification in Spain, which has been kept within the state domain through the maritime authorities. Nonetheless, class is perceived within the industry as having an important role to play in assisting owners to prepare for the code.

Investing Products Maintaining a dynamic approach to fleet development, the Valencia-based Boluda Group is a classic example of a family-run business which has continually reinvested profits in its core activities while fostering diversification in other marine-related areas. Its $24.5 million expenditure in 1998 on eight new tugs for deployment at ports in Spain, the Canary Islands and Mexico underscored its particular strengths in ship towage, complemented by its anchor-handling and offshore supply services. Tugs and support ships together account for the highest proportion of a fleet of more than 150 vessels.

But testament to the group's widening portfolio of shipping interests was provided by last year's addition of three secondhand containerships of around 900-TEU capacity, following on from the acquisition of domestic boxship operator Naviera Pinillos. In fact, over the past five years alone, Boluda has purchased five companies in the marine field.

Alert to new opportunities for providing specialized shipping solutions, it is currently investigating a number of projects, including one which could give rise to a requirement for the construction of two 20,000-dwt self-unloading cement carriers to be deployed in South American waters.

A series of five, Lloyd's Registerclassed azimuthing tractor tugs ordered by the Boluda Group is nearing completion at the Santurce premises of Astilleros Zamakona, one of Europe's most prolific constructors of tugs. Three of the vessels were completed last year, for ship-handling operations in Valencia and at Las Palmas, in the Canaries, and the two remaining tractors are scheduled to be handed over in mid 1999. A stern-drive tug of 1,520-kW propulsive power has also recently been delivered by Zamakona to Boluda for deployment at the Mexican port of Coatzacoalcos. The family-owned yard, which had been heavily reliant on the fisheries industry until its break into the tug newbuild market at the start of the 1990s, gave fresh expression to its international standing last year with the completion of a powerful tractor tug for a German operator. Its production versatility was also implicit in its delivery of a double-ended ferry for service in the west Norwegian fjords with More og Romsdal Fylkesbaatar (MRF).

Located within the port of Bilbao, Zamakona has formulated a development program for its shipyard in keeping with its perception of market demand. Key elements of the $4.7 million program foreseen for execution in 1999 and 2000 include a 361 ft. (110 m) slipway and five cranes offering the capability to lift 100-ton hull blocks.




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