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Mitsui E&S Delivers Last Commercial Ship Ending Shipbuilding Business

Japan's Mitsui ends merchant shipbuilding
JAL Kalpataru was the last merchant ship built by Mitsui E&S (Mitsui)

Published Jul 21, 2021 4:35 PM by The Maritime Executive

Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding Co. announced the delivery of a new 66,000 dwt bulk carrier. The twenty-third vessel in its class, it was significant because it is the last merchant vessel to be built by the Japanese company.  After years of financial losses in its shipbuilding operation, Mitsui announced this spring that it had completed a series of transactions as part of the consolidation of the Japanese shipbuilding industry.

The shipbuilder highlighted the advanced elements of its designs and the features incorporated into this its last vessel. The JAL Kalpataru, is part of the yard’s wide beam shallow draft vessel design that they had called their neo series.

The vessel, which is 38,000 gross tons, has a length of 656 feet and a 118-foot beam. According to Mitsui, the beam wider than a traditional Panamamax and the shallow draft make it possible to have wide flexibility for operations and high transport efficiency. Fuel oil consumption is also less than that of a conventional Supramax bulk carrier despite the enlarged size. The vessel has a capacity of 82,600 cubic meters for various cargos like coal, ore, grain, as well as lengthy/heavy cargo such as steel pipe and hot coil.

Established in 1917, Mitsui had been one of Japan’s leading shipbuilders. In recent years the company had focused on commercial ships such as the dry bulk carriers and also government work. Mitsui performed construction and repair work for auxiliary ships, such as supply ships and oceanographic survey ships for Japan’s Ministry of Defense, as well as governmental ships including vessels for patrolling local fishing waters. In recent years, the company had also been actively developing new technologies incorporated into autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) and autonomous surface vehicles (ASV).

In March 2021, final agreements were signed for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to take over the naval and governmental ship business of Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding Co., including the construction and repair work which will continue at the Tamano Works. 

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.

The core business of Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding Co shifts to engineering services, which management believes will contribute to the growth of revenues from the maritime industry. The company also continues its operations in machinery and IT services.

The Japanese shipbuilding sector has struggled to compete with the shipyards in China and South Korea in recent years. Japan remains a distant third in shipbuilding with the industry seeking to consolidate and focus on emerging opportunities for the future.