Targeting cruise recognition
General Manager, CMHI
Earlier this year, SunStone placed an order for four expedition cruise ships to be built at the China Merchants Heavy Industry (CMHI) Jiangsu shipyard near Shanghai, with options for a further six.
For Wallace Yao, General Manager of CMHI, it’s hard to overstate the importance of the newbuilding contract: “This is our first cruise ship project, and it’s vital that we get it right.”
Since 1965, the yard has developed a reputation for constructing high-value ships and offshore projects for international clients. With the SunStone project, it aims to demonstrate to owners that the yard has the skills to build cruise ships to the same high quality.
“A successfully executed cruise project demonstrates the ability of the yard to tackle any sophisticated newbuilding in terms of technical standards, complexity and the number of international suppliers to be coordinated. The SunStone vessels will gain substantial public interest on delivery, and potentially act as a showcase for CMHI’s ability to construct cruise ships.”
Each SunStone vessel will be 104m long and 18.2m wide, with 80-95 passenger cabins accommodating up to 160 passengers. The project brings together an exceptionally international team from the US, China and Europe, with design by Ulstein, interiors by Mäkinen and classification by Bureau Veritas.
“It’s an advantage that Bureau Veritas has such a large team in Shanghai. We have a joint team, we are able to see them frequently, and they help us a lot.”
This proximity is crucial, as the project brings a number of challenges. As expedition cruise vessels, operating in Arctic waters, the four ships will have a Polar Class notation, and must be able to proceed to a port under their own power following an incident (Safe Return to Port).
“We are really looking to Bureau Veritas to be our guide and coach on this project as it’s our first cruise ship. They have a vast experience in cruise ship design and construction, and in handling large complex projects.”
CMHI is pleased with the relationship to date: it has sent drawings for approval and Bureau Veritas has already provided suggestions.
“Trust between partners is important to deliver the contracted vessels on time and on budget. Bureau Veritas is a good partner for us – we’ve worked with them previously on repairs and conversion projects, but this is the first new construction project at our Jiangsu site. We’re really looking forward to working with them to make this project a success.”
Looking ahead, CMHI is aiming to leverage its experience with the project team to develop a recognized expertise in cruise ships:
“We see huge potential in the cruise ship market, which in China alone is seeing growth of 7% each year. It’s important to us to expand our business and there are some really exciting opportunities out there.”