SINGAPORE - A new chapter in Singapore's maritime development was written yesterday when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong opened Sembcorp Marine's new integrated yard, which will eventually consolidate the group's shipyards across the island into a single facility.
Speaking at the grand opening of the Sembmarine Integrated Yard, Mr Lee said that the plan was to consolidate all of Sembcorp Marine's yards here by 2024, with the aim of creating a "Shipyard of the Future" that will boost productivity significantly.
For starters, Mr Lee said that the integrated yard will help the company optimise its layout and facilities there while freeing up the land it is occupying elsewhere for redevelopment.
"It includes a one-stop solutions hub for ship repair & conversion, shipbuilding, rig building and offshore engineering & construction," he said, adding that the new facility will leverage on modern production technologies and processes to help double output.
Achieving productivity in the offshore & marine industry industry is important, as it has to overcome the future challenge of staying viable while optimising land use and reducing reliance on foreign manpower, as well as address intensifying competition from China and South Korea, explained Mr Lee.
The government will also take steps to upgrade the offshore & marine industry, which contributes $13 billion, or 1.6 per cent, of Singapore's gross domestic product (GDP).
Just as it upgrades other sectors of the economy, particularly construction and precision engineering, Mr Lee outlined a four-pronged approach by which the government will help the offshore & marine sector increase its capabilities.
"First, we will help shipyards and subcontractors provide better training, adopt new production processes and promote productivity improvement efforts," he said.
Secondly, the government will look at enhancing the sector's research and innovation capabilities.
In addition, the government will focus on building a pipeline of talent and skilled manpower for the sector, which employs 20,000 locals, through industry-relevant specialised training programmes. There will also be a greater emphasis on working with companies to elevate the quality and pay of jobs in this sector.
"Finally, we will develop a strong marine and offshore eco-system, which brings together industry players, such as classification societies, equipment makers and vessel owners," Mr Lee said.
Mr Lee paid tribute to former Sembcorp Marine president and CEO Tan Kwi Kin for his efforts in lobbying the prime minister on the idea of the new facility, which he was convinced would help boost Singapore's competitiveness. "The government supported Sembcorp Marine, by reclaiming land at Tuas for the new yard and helping Sembcorp Marine upgrade its capabilities," Mr Lee said.
The 206-hectare new yard facility will be developed over three phases. The 73.3-hectare phase one started operations in August; phase two is expected to begin in the next three to four years.
Sembcorp Marine also celebrated its 50th anniversary at a gala dinner yesterday, where the group said it will commit $10 million over five years to an endowment fund for the establishment of Sembcorp Marine Lab @NTU, a new research facility at the Nanyang Technological University.
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