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SKF Marine in South Korea

Detailing a shipbuilding giant’s rich history

South Korea enjoys a dominant position in global shipbuilding. Between January and September 2019, the country won orders for over 120 ships. The details are impressive, but they don’t tell the whole story. There’s plenty more for South Koreans to take pride in when it comes to their nautical heritage.

The opening of Hyundai Heavy Industries’ Ulsan shipyard in 1972—now the largest of its kind in the world—marked the beginning of South Korea’s ship building industry as we know it today. And the company’s origin story is one of legend.

Chung Ju-yung founded what is now Hyundai Group as a construction firm in 1947. When, in the 1970s, Chung decided to get into ship building, he did so without any knowledge of the industry or shipbuilding technology. For most entrepreneurs, this would have been a barrier to entry. Chung, however, managed to land orders for two 260,000-DWT tankers before even breaking ground on a shipyard. Both ships launched in 1974—a feat of human will and ingenuity that would define the South Korean industrial spirit for years to come.

Fast forward to 2018, and the shipyard has delivered more than 2,191 ships to 324 shipowners in 52 countries. Today, Hyundai Heavy Industries is one of several shipbuilding companies that make South Korea—a territory a bit smaller than Iceland—a world leader in the Industry.

2019 marks SKF Marine Korea’s 30th anniversary

Future innovations

South Korea is a major player in the shift toward liquefied natural gas (LNG), producing LNG-powered and LNG carrier vessels, which are in high demand. LNG is low in sulfur compared to legacy fuels, and the global sulfur cap is drawing near. The South Korean government is itself set to place orders for 140 LNG-powered vessels by 2025. LNG carriers and tankers make up the majority of orders placed for 2019, of which Korean shipyards account for 34% in terms of compensated gross tonnage. And despite an already high number of shipyards, Korean shipbuilding capacity is expected to grow 33% by the end of 2024, in line with potentially improved market conditions.*

Seoul far, so good

The South Korean shipping industry now serves as a catalyst for the development of related industries nationwide, and it’s responsible in part for South Korea’s high-tech, future-focused workforce. The mechanical, steel, and material industries all aid the development of the country’s flagship industry, contributing to the construction of a wide variety of vessels, including vessels for shipping, fishing, and for the military.

SKF Marine Korea celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2019, and we couldn’t be prouder of the part we play in South Korea’s shipping industry. Here’s to the next 30 years!


*(source: September 2019/www.clarksons.net)

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