'Shipyard of future' shows how S'pore can stay ahead

PHOTO: 'Shipyard of future' shows how S'pore can stay ahead

A huge new shipyard in Tuas that boasts the latest in technology, production processes and equipment has gone the extra mile with a wide range of facilities for its workers.

Facilities for street football and badminton, a multi-media room to watch movies and a central kitchen serving up meals can be found at Sembcorp Marine's state-of-the-art plant.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told a ceremony to mark the opening of the yard's first phase on Wednesday that the aim is to create a "shipyard of the future which will significantly increase our productivity".

For instance, the use of modern production technology and processes there will help double output with half the resources.

Mr Lee said the new yard will enable SembMarine to optimise the layout and facilities there while freeing up land it is now occupying for redevelopment.

The plan is to consolidate all of SembMarine's yards here by 2024, he added. When fully ready, the new SembMarine yard will be 206ha, or about the size of 300 football fields. It will be the largest of its kind here.

The first phase of the integrated yard is 73.3ha. It features four dry docks for very large crude carriers with a total dock capacity of 1.55 million deadweight tonnes, and piers and basin lengths totalling 3.9km.

Mr Lee said the shipyard is an example of how progressively upgrading sectors in the local economy will ultimately benefit Singapore. This approach will keep the Republic vibrant, forward-looking and at the centre of key global and economic trends, he said.

"The way forward is to upgrade and improve our skills, catch up and be at the leading edge, and thereby offer good jobs and good futures for Singaporeans," he said.

Mr Lee added that this will "enhance our competitiveness and our ability to service the world", thus increasing opportunities for SembMarine and other firms to prosper.

Singapore is also in the midst of upgrading other industries, such as construction and precision-engineering, he noted, along with food and beverage, health care, logistics and financial services.

SembMarine chairman Goh Geok Ling said on Wednesday that the yard will "redefine employee care" with a "new in-yard living concept".

The first phase includes dormitories for some 4,520 workers and apartments for more than 360 engineers. Phase two, which is 34.5ha, is expected to start operations in three to four years.

Mr Lee also noted the sector's future opportunities amid rising global energy demand, but said it is facing rising competition from South Korea and China.

"The challenge is for the industry to stay viable while optimising land use and reducing reliance on foreign manpower," he said.

Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang said at SembMarine's 50th anniversary dinner on Wednesday evening at Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre that the Government will support the offshore and marine sector in its transformation efforts.

alfoo@sph.com.sg


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