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A New Lease of Life

Sembawang’s repair and conversion skills offer ships A NEW LEASE OF LIFE

70 per cent of the world’s fleet of oceangoing ships are more than ten years old. As individual ships age, so the growing cost of their operation and maintenance encourages ship owners to replace them with newbuildings or younger successors. But there is an alternative: to extend their life span by judicious upgrading or conversion. A number of profitable shipyards around the world specialise in this option

Safety training at Sembawang
Serving a worldwide clientele, Sembawang shipyard has a repair and ship-conversion order book covering 250 vessels annually, from some 35 countries. It started implementing DNVs International Safety Rating System in 1992, and has been audited every year since. Today the yard is at Level 8 on a 10-level scale. The yard maintains a strict safety training programme for all its 2000 employees. It was the first shipyard to win the Singapore Production & Standards Boards National Training Award for its comprehensive approach to training.

Sembawang Shipyard and ISRS - Forum 2000(1).jpg

One such yard, whose order book of sizeable ship conversions reflects the success of its policy of specialisation, is Sembawang Shipyard in Singapore.
Based on the one-time British Royal Navy Dockyard handed over to the Singaporean government in 1968, Sembawang was successfully developed following its new owners decision to concentrate on ship repair and conversion. Close to one of the worlds busiest ports, a number of repair and conversion facilities have flourished here in Singapore. Sembawang itself has grown to become a world-class shipyard whose four dry docks total 710,000dwt in capacity, and which can offer 3.5km of continuous and sheltered berthing, with comprehensive facilities to match.
Today Sembawang is one of the largest integrated repair-and-conversion yards in South East Asia. General manager J. M. Koh points out its record: We undertake the repair or conversion of virtually every type of vessel from VLCCs, chemical carriers and gas tankers to luxury cruise ships. All these specialised designs call for particular expertise; the yard supports a continuous development programme to ensure that its technology and workforce skills remain up-to-date.
Adds Koh, Safety and quality are vital. We recently gained the Singapore Business Excellence Award for quality, the first shipyard to do so. Maintaining competitiveness is essential: we must offer innovative solutions and technical expertise to meet demanding technical challenges. Det Norske Veritas is an important partner, helping us achieve efficiency and on-time delivery, as well as reduced costs. 

Safety Management and Loss Control
At a time of rising global concern about safety and environmental protection, Sembawang managers recognise the value of a comprehensive safety-management system. Since 1992, the yard has used the loss-control management concept to improve its own safety management activities, through DNVs International Safety Management System. This, the ISRS, is an internationally recognised measurement and evaluation tool based on 20 critical elements found to be common to most successful health and safety programmes.
The ISRS helps identify the steps to developing a loss-control programme setting quantifiable organisational standards, and measuring effectiveness. It provides management with an early warning for the prevention and control of loss. Companies in more than 7,000 locations worldwide currently use the ISRS. Following DNVs evaluation of its safety-management system, Sembawang has undergone follow-up audits each year since 1992; it is now at Level 8 in the 10-level grades of achievement. Among the benefits of ISRS, yard managers agree, are its ability to compare a companys safety performance against others in its industry; and to improve performance beyond legislative requirements alone. 20 elements are encompassed in an ISRS audit including accident investigation, emergency preparedness, materials and services management, and planned inspections and maintenance.
Over the years, DNV staff have made a number of recommendations to further strengthen the yards management system. According to Sembawang safety manager P.K. Raveendran, the yard has gained some measurable benefits from implementing the ISRS requirements:

  • The safety-management system has become more refined and comprehensive;
  • Frequency of accidents has declined;
  • Employees safety awareness has significantly improved. This is evident from the higher compliance rate observed during physical-condition inspections.

Raveendran is convinced, too, that a commitment to employee training and development is vital in the yards continuing to attract such major ship owners and operators as BP, Esso and Shell. Safety awareness is promoted throughout the company, he says. Everyone has an active role to play in meeting our customers requirements in a safe working environment.

Date: 15 February 2000
Source: DNV Forum no. 1, 2000

Backed up: 1 Aug 2014