Korean shippers’ vessel inspection on halt amid Shanghai lockdown

2022.04.14 08:53:28 | 2022.04.14 08:53:59

[Photo by MK DB]이미지 확대

[Photo by MK DB]

As Shanghai lockdown drags on, fears grow that ship inspection in the world’s largest container port city may come to a complete stop, which could take a big tool on Korean shippers that heavily rely on China for ship inspection and repair.

According to Korean Register, a classification society, on Wednesday, ship inspection in Shanghai is suspended now as inspectors working in the Chinese city are banned from entering repair dockyards due to travel restrictions. Shanghai is now the epicenter of China’s worst Covid outbreak in two years and the city’s lockdown entered the third week this week.

The time-sensitive ship inspection is to verify the structural strength and integrity of essential parts of the ship’s hull and its components, and any ship without a valid classification certificate granted after a ship inspection is prohibited from cargo shipping under the Ship Safety Act. Vessels should drop by at a repair workshop to receive inspection and renew their certificate on a regular basis.

As the coronavirus keeps spreading in China, a complete lockdown may follow at other repair dockyards in Dalian, Qingdao, Nanjing and Guangzhou, where partial restrictions are in place. This could lead to a suspension of shipping vessels’ operations as ship repairing is concentrated in China.

China offered repair services to 7,731 ships last year, or 43.2 percent of all vessel repair cases in the world, according to Clarksons Research data. Among the world’s top 10 shipyards for vessel repair, nine are owned by China.

Korea also heavily relied on China for fixing and modifying mid- and large-sized ships. For large vessels with a deadweight tonnage of over 30,000 tons owned by Korean shippers, more than 95 percent of repair jobs are conducted in China or Singapore.

The Korean government and the shipping industry do not consider the Shanghai lockdown as an immediate threat to the country’s shipping services. But there is a possibility that individual shippers will have a problem with their operation depending on how the pandemic spread situation evolves in a few days or weeks.

Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said it is taking a step to increase remote inspection in cooperation with Korean Register and guide ships to other ports where inspection is available.

It is practically impossible to grasp all the ship repair schedules of individual shipping companies, said the ministry, adding the inspection deadline can be extended if inspection is not possible due to unavoidable circumstances.

South Korea`s sea flag carrier HMM Co. said its two bulk carriers remain grounded due to suspended inspection in China. Another Korean shipper said it is closely watching the situation while receiving feedback from workers in China.

By Park Dong-hwan and Minu Kim

[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]