The National Shipbuilding Research Program (NSRP, USA) held recently its second Shipbuilding Opportunities in Marine Highways workshop. A principal workshop goal was to find ways to decrease ship construction costs by accelerating the shipbuilding opportunities associated with potential Marine Highway operations. Marine Highway operations are an alternative form of transportation that utilizes inland and coastal waterways to move commercial freight between domestic ports in lieu of road or rail.
Workshop participants endeavored to leverage partnerships between U.S. and foreign shipyards, designers, and operators as well as the U.S. Navy and U.S. Maritime Administration. The program featured over 40 participants from six U.S. shipyards, four International shipyards and naval architecture firms, and numerous domestic ship design agents. For three days they investigated the issue of constructing economical vessels that can operate on the newly defined Marine Highway corridors. Two key strategies were explored: virtual shipbuilding and international partnerships.
The “Virtual Shipyard” concept employs multiple, non-collocated ship construction activities to organize the planning, scheduling, budgeting, design and engineering, procurement, production control, testing and program management for the design and construction of ships. Advantages of the Virtual Shipyard may include improved time-to-delivery and/or cost reduction by: use of specialized fabrication and sub-assembly facilities to construct and design portions of the vessel, acceleration of the production schedule by distributing the production and design work, and allowing the final shipyard to leverage its capabilities during final vessel construction.
International partnerships were explored as a means to reduce cost and risk by leveraging proven commercial designs, engineering and production planning expertise, and supplier access and relationships. NASSCO’s partnership with DSEC (Daewoo) in their current nine-vessel product carrier program was examined as an example and is anticipated to result in a 25% reduction in cost.