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HD Hyundai May Reopen Shuttered Hanjin Subic Shipyard

Hanjin Heavy Industries' Subic shipyard at its peak
Hanjin Heavy Industries' Subic shipyard at its peak

Published May 14, 2023 9:24 PM by The Maritime Executive

Grappling with workforce challenges at home, Korean shipbuilding giant HD Hyundai is looking abroad. The conglomerate is said to be considering the possibility of using part of the vast Subic Bay shipyard complex once operated by its compatriot Hanjin Heavy Industries.

Hanjin began building the sprawling yard on the north side of Subic Bay in 2006, and grew it into the fourth-largest yard in the world (at the time). It was the largest yard in the Philippines, and at its peak it employed upwards of 20,000 people. After a protracted shipbuilding slump, it ceased operations in 2019 after defaulting on a total of $1.3 billion in outstanding loans, including $400 million due to Philippine banks and $900 million in loans from South Korean lenders. 

American investment fund Cerberus acquired the yard in April 2022, three years after the facility closed. Shortly after, the Philippine Navy agreed to lease one third of the facility for its own maintenance needs, calling it Naval Operating Base Subic. This section is now active with about 800 personnel on site. 

Now HD Hyundai (formerly Hyundai Heavy Industries) is said to be mulling a commercial operation at the site. According to the office of the Philippine president, the Korean shipbuilder wants to use two drydocks at Subic and could move in as early as the end of this year. The project could create up to 15,000 jobs in the Philippines. 

Cerberus' subsea-cable subsidiary, Subcomm, will also be moving in at the Subic shipyard later this year, creating additional employment opportunities. 

It is not the first time that Hyundai has been linked to Subic. Last year, then-defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana told media that Hyundai would operate a maintenance depot for Hyundai-built Philippine Navy vessels at the former Hanjin Subic facility. 

Hyundai built the Philippine Navy's first two missile frigates, and holds contracts for two anti-submarine corvettes as well as an offshore patrol vessel. It holds a lifetime service support contract with the Philippine Navy for the guided-missile frigates previously delivered to the navy.