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'Megaship' built in Subic shipyard.

A mammoth container vessel was unveiled here on Thursday, the first to be built this year by a South Korean shipbuilding company based here.

The 20,600 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) class container vessel-400 meters long, 59 meters wide and 33 meters deep and named CMA CGM Antoine de Saint Exupery, after the French author-is considered the biggest commercial ship in the world today, according to its builder, Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction-Philippines (HHIC-Phil Inc.).


President Duterte described the ship as a 'gigantic and technologically superior vessel,' in a speech read for him by Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chair and Administrator Wilma Eisma during the launching ceremony here.

Mr. Duterte said the launching of the vessel underscored Hanjin's 'vital role in our country's maritime industry.'

'So I expect HHIC-Phil to remain a pillar and partner in the growth of the Philippine maritime industry, especially now that our country is experiencing robust economic growth,' said Mr. Duterte, who is in India to attend a regional summit with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Mr. Duterte also called on Hanjin officials to protect the welfare of its workers. 'For how else could you have expected the many vessels were it not for their craftsmanship and hard work? How else can you make good your order ... if it were not for these Filipino workers?' he said in the speech.

'So I am telling you-take care of our people and we will take care of you,' he said.

Sen. Richard Gordon, who served as first SBMA chair and administrator, attended the launching, along with former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda, Zambales Gov. Amor Deloso and Olongapo City Mayor Rolen Paulino.

Gordon described the vessel as a 'product of Korea and Filipino craftsmanship.'

Arroyo said Hanjin was among the companies that invested billions of dollars in the country during her term as President. She said Hanjin would 'weather the next two years,' despite the challenges being faced by the shipbuilding industry.

Job opportunities

'I'm hoping that Hanjin workers would continue to have good job opportunities. We all have to work together to keep the shipbuilding industry afloat,' she said.

The container vessel could transport up to 20,950 units of 40-foot shipping container, which, when lined up, would reach 12.5 kilometers long. Its deck is equivalent to four football fields.

The vessel is the first of three 20,600 TEU class ultra large container ships to be delivered by HHIC-Phil Inc. to French shipping magnate CMA CGM following the signing of the new building contract in April 2015.

Shipyard strength

'This newly built 20,600 TEU vessel proves, among others, the strength and capability of our Subic shipyard to manufacture in a timely manner megaships of much higher quality tonnage that are now shaping the shipping landscape around the world,' said Chung Gwang-suk, president of HHIC-Phil Inc.

Since its maiden ship delivery in 2009, HHIC-Phil Inc. has exported a total of 113 ocean-going merchant ships worth more than $6 billion, making the Philippines among the top five shipbuilding countries in the world.

'Working hand in hand with its business partners, HHIC-Phil Inc. will continue to raise the bar of excellence by upgrading our capacity to meet, and always be cognizant of, the ever growing demands of the industry stakeholders for cost-efficient, environment-friendly and technologically advanced vessels,' Chung said.
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Jan 26, 2018
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