12 September 2008

Hanjin to improve safety in its Philippine shipyard

Shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries Construction (HHIC) is to improve safety after the deaths of 15 workers at its Philippines shipyard in three years, an official said.

The news comes as the South Korean-based company enters into a contract to build two supertankers at the shipyard in the former US naval base at Subic Bay just north of Manila.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) administrator Armand Arreza said Hanjin was working to improve safety standards, adding that the workers had died in accidents since construction of the shipyard began in May 2005.

Arreza said the rise of the shipyard, which he compared to an entire town, had been
swift. The shipyard which Hanjin says is the biggest in the world, covers 354 hectares (875 acres).

"This has been a challenge to us. Hanjin went from having zero employees in May 2005, when they began building the shipyard, to 20,000 employees this year," he added.

He said both Hanjin and the workers had to "comply with the culture of safety we
seek to inculcate into all locators at the SBMA.

"He added: "Many construction site mishaps are the result of the construction workers
not wearing their safety gear and we want to change that mindset."

Pyeung Jung Yu, the head of Hanjin's business department in Subic, said the shipyard had signed a contract to build two Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) for 330 million dollars for Emarat Maritime LLC of the United Arab Emirates.

The 320,000-tonne, double-hulled vessels will be 333 metres (1,098 feet) long, 60 metres wide and 30.5 metres tall with a top speed of up to 16 knots.The tankers are expected to be delivered in 2011 and will be a first for Hanjin, which did not have
the space at its South Korea shipyards.

"We simply don't have the space in South Korea so it is only here in Subic that we can build these huge carriers," Yu said.

Hanjin' s Subic shipyard delivered its first ship, the 41,000-tonne container carrier MV Argolikos in July, and launched its second vessel, the CMA CGM Turquoise a month later. It also has contracts for bulk carriers with companies based in Hong Kong and Germany. (AFP)