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South Korea’s first state-subsidised containerships launched

Namsung Shipping has launched the first container ships that were built with subsidies from the South Korean government.

The 1,000TEU pair were christened Star Frontier and Star Explorer in a ceremony at Dae Sun Shipbuilding & Engineering’s shipyard on 3 June 2020. The latter vessel will be deployed to Namsung’s Busan-Incheon-Hai Phong and semi-linked Incheon-Hai Phong services, which the company runs jointly with Heung-A Line and Korea Marine Transport Company. Plans for the other ship have not been decided.

The newbuilding subsidies were issued as part of a broad national strategy to rejuvenate South Korea’s maritime sector. To qualify for subsidies and to discourage speculative orders, ship owners were required to demolish or sell off older vessels to overseas buyers, which are around 10% of the newbuilding price. The scrapped vessels must be at least 20 years old.

Namsung sold two 1998-built 706TEU ships, Victory Star and Carina Star to buyers in Singapore and China, respectively, in 2018 and 2019. The company received government subsidies of around KRW1 billion (US$852,514) per vessel on an estimated outlay of US$20 million when Star Explorer and Star Frontier were commissioned in November 2018.

Present at the christening were the respective presidents of Namsung and Dae Sun, Kim Yong-gyu and Lee Soo-geun, as well as officials from the Export-Import Bank of Korea and Korea Ocean Business Corporation.

To comply with the International Maritime Organization’s new rules regarding emissions and ballast water, the newbuildings are equipped with scrubbers and ballast water treatment devices and coated with eco-friendly paint.

Namsung’s in-house ship management company, Magellan Marine Solutions, experts from Dae Sun and Pusan National University all worked on the vessel designs to produce ships with a 12% better fuel efficiency than older, similar-sized, ships.

Martina Li
Asia Correspondent

Original author: n.savvides
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