The Russians are really loading Zvezda with orders:
- four icebreaking offshore vessels
- one shallow-draught river icebreaker
- ten LNG-powered Aframax tankers
- fifteen icebreaking LNG carriers
- three LNG-powered MR tankers
- ten 42k DWT icebreaking shuttle tankers
- one 69k DWT icebreaking shuttle tanker
- the world’s largest nuclear-powered icebreaker
As of today, Zvezda has launched one Aframax tanker (aft 3/4 built by Hyundai) and has another one under construction on the slip (aft 2/3 built by Hyundai) together with one of the icebreaking offshore vessels built completely on site. Production has started on various other projects, including the nuclear-powered icebreaker, and keels have been laid left and right. At least one of the icebreaking offshore vessels is already taking shape. In addition, one more two-thirds-of-an-Aframax has been spotted at Hyundai.
It may be tempting to ridicule the Russian approach, but that’s one way of building up shipbuilding capacity and capability. Sure, getting three-fourths of a ship, including all the difficult bits, from a foreign shipyard may sound like cheating at first, but it’s technology transfer in progress. In addition to building ships, there’s a huge import substitution program and to my knowledge at least the LNG carriers will feature Russian-made propulsion units instead of ABB’s products.
The only thing that worries me is that if all major orders are channeled to Zvezda, what’s left to the Russian shipbuilders who have already demonstrated their ability to build e.g. icebreakers in Russia? How about the companies that need to replace their obsolete ships now and not in ten years or whenever’s the next available slot in Bolshoy Kamen.