Australia-based Austal has re-entered the Chinese ferry market with a joint venture to design and build high-speed passenger ferries serving domestic routes in China.
The company signed an agreement with Guangdong Jianglong Shipbuilding of Zhuhai, China, to pursue commercial vessel opportunities in mainland China.
The joint venture, to be known as Aulong Shipbuilding, will be 40 per cent owned by Austal and will build and market Austal-designed commercial aluminium vessels manufactured within Jianglong Shipbuilding’s existing facilities in Guangdong province, for mainland China-based customers.
The Chinese government mandates a maximum operating life of 25 years for commercial high speed-ferries. As a result, Austal believes a number of vessels will need to be replaced progressively during the next few years.
“This mandated fleet replacement combined with a growing domestic requirement will present a major market opportunity for Austal,” said Austal CEO David Singleton.
“As Chinese customers are now seeking locally built vessels, the joint venture with established local shipbuilder Jianglong will allow Austal to compete in the domestic Chinese market without the need to develop new shipyard facilities.”
Jianglong Shipbuilding has been constructing steel and fibreglass vessels since 2003 and has a workforce of close to 1,000 across two shipyards in Guandong province.
The Aulong JV will service the Chinese market, while Austal’s other ferries for international clients will be principally manufactured at the company ’s operations in the Philippines.