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Mitsubishi Discusses Plans for Acquired Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding 

consolidation of Japanese shipbuilding Mitsubishi Mitsui
Mitsui's Tamano works will become a division of MHI (Mitsui file photo)

Published Aug 4, 2021 7:12 PM by The Maritime Executive

As the next step in the consolidation of the Japanese shipbuilding industry, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries announced plans for its new operations specializing in naval vessels and government ships. MHI previously announced it had agreed to take over the operations of Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding at the Tamano Works in the southern Japanese city of Okayama. The acquisition is pending the results of the review currently underway by the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC).

According to an announcement earlier this week, the shipyard will be relaunched as the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Maritime Systems Co. With the inauguration of the new business, MHI and MHI Maritime Systems plan to integrate their respective technological strengths and expertise in an effort to expand their product lineups in naval vessels and governmental ships, enhance their product development capabilities, and improve production efficiency. The two partners plan to combine their accumulated resources in technologies of manpower savings and unmanned vehicles in the maritime sphere, areas of growing importance in recent years. This will strengthen their development and engineering capabilities and accelerate market launches of new products meeting customers’ needs.

MHI and MHI Maritime Systems hope to make a greater contribution to Japan’s maritime security while helping to revitalize the country’s declining shipbuilding industry.

After years of financial losses, Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding, in 2020 they began working on a plan to strengthen the company as part of a wider consolidation taking place in the shipbuilding sector. Mitsui said it planned to peruse a fabless business model making the best use of its strengths in design and development. 

In recent years, Mitsui had focused on the construction and repair of auxiliary ships, such as supply ships and oceanographic survey ships for Japan’s Ministry of Defense, as well as governmental ships such as vessels for patrolling local fishing waters. In recent years the company has also been actively developing new technologies incorporated into autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) and autonomous surface vehicles (ASV).

When the companies announced the consolidation in the spring, MHI said that Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding’s products and technologies were fully complement with its existing operations and would be used to further strengthen MHI’s operations of its Naval Ship & Maritime Systems Division. The company also plans to actively engage in a broad range of dual-use areas, including cybersecurity products and unmanned systems.

Separately, Mitsui also reported that it is has signed a comprehensive agreement with Tsuneishi for the commercial shipbuilding operations. Since 2018, the two companies had been cooperating on their commercial ship construction for tankers, bulk carriers, and containerships. Under the plan, Tsuneishi will invest in the new joint company and will own 49 percent of the company. Mitsui recently completed the construction of its last commercial ship.

Following the requisite reviews by the Fair Trade Commission and other pertinent authorities, the transfer of operations to MHI is targeted for completion in October 2021.