New Pilot Boats for Chinese

Friday, July 01, 2005
On June 16 Zhang Guangqin, Vice Minister of the Commission of Science, Technology, and Industry for National Defence --- a body set up by the Chinese central government to oversee China’s ship building industries --- announced that there would be a 14 percent increase in production from China’s yards in 2004. This would bring the country’s production to 10 million deadweight tons this year, compared with 8.8 million tons in 2004. He went on to say that Chinese yards earned nearly US$3.2 billion on the export of 5.6 million deadweight tons of vessels in 2004. This represents 70% of total construction.

The balance of 30% was made of up ships and boats for domestic use. These include everything from crude oil carriers to naval ships and workboats. The various levels of Chinese government are also working hard to maintain an infrastructure that can handle the huge trade in and out of the country. While new expressways snake out across the landscape, the country’s ports are adding container cranes and pier facilities to cope with the seemingly endless growth in cargos in and out of the country.

The port of Zhou Shan at Ding Hai on Zhou Shan Island just off the Chinese coast near Ningbo and south of Shanghai, recently took delivery of two new pilot boats. Built locally to a design by the Zhou Shan Xinhai Shipbuilding Design Institute, the boats are 40.88 meters long with a 7.4-meter beam and a molded depth of 3.2 meters. Powered by a pair of 500 HP (373 Kw) Cummins KTA19 main engines turning into Advance Gearbox model D300A gears with 5.05:1 ratios, the new boats make a good 14 knots.

The new boats have crews of seven or eight and typically carry 4 or 5 pilots each. At this port all foreign and some domestic ships are required to take on a pilot about 20 to 30 sea miles out from the harbor. This results in about 2000 pilot moves per year and is currently handled by about 20 pilots. The port is in the process of hiring more pilots to meet the demand and is also planning to build two more pilot boats.

In his presentation on June 16 Mr. Zhang pointed out that, "Now more than 85 per cent of the orders in the hands of Chinese shipyards are from foreign countries."

At the same time, he explained the development of domestic marine equipment lagged far behind demand, with more than 60 per cent of the raw materials and accessories used in China's shipyards being imported. This provides opportunities for foreign suppliers and places demands on the country’s port infrastructure in moving all of this cargo.

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