Potential in Indian shipbuilding industry: The Goa connection

Shipping / Ranjan Naik

This new buzz in the Indian shipbuilding industry is a big opportunity for the people of Goa; and has the potential to change the regional economic situation, says the writer

As per the Ministry of Shipping, India’s external trading done by maritime transport is around 95% by volume and 70% by value, majority of which is carried by foreign-registered ships built at foreign shipyards. “If more Indian ships start participating in the regular carriage of Indian imports, other ancillary industries such as bunkering, ship repair and even ship building will grow,” says Anil Devli, chief executive of the Indian National Shipowners’ Association (INSA).

Cargo and passenger movement through India’s inland waterways is a meagre 5%; the ministry aims to raise this number to 30% in the next 15 years. Since 1907, only five national waterways existed. After the inclusion of 106 additional inland waterways (bringing the total to 111), India opens up its logistics, transport, shipbuilding, cargo and tourism segments’ potential. The aim is to create cost-effective and eco-friendly waterways to ease the burden on roads and railways. This means that there will be demand for more coastal ships, barges and passenger vessels, which would offer opportunities to local shipyards. India currently accounts for only 0.45% of the global shipbuilding market. The Indian Navy shall have three new aircraft carriers: Vikramaditya, Vikrant and Vishal. To protect these and satisfy the Blue-water navy ambition, currently there are 46 ships and submarines, under construction, being built in Indian shipyards, both private and public. The navy has around 145 warships, but many are due for phased retirement. It also intends to have a 200 ship navy in the next 10 years. Indian Coast Guard has its own need for a fleet of 150 ships by 2020.

Looking at the ambitious targets set by the government, it was necessary that an information sharing exercise be carried out in Goa to create awareness among all stakeholders about potential opportunities. Goa’s shipbuilding Industry is understated despite its performance and contribution to the state’s GDP, its prestigious projects and the sheer volume of business that it churns out quarter by quarter.

India’s only institution that specializes in shipbuilding engineering studies, the Institute of Shipbuilding Technology (ISBT) Goa, conducted a seminar; attended by industry experts including shipyard owners, ship designers, shipbuilding associates and suppliers, engineers and naval architects on the 11th of August. It was an event that had speakers from a national and international area.

Ashok Chowgule, Joint Managing Director, Chowgule Shipyard-Goa, in his keynote speech, drew from the history of shipbuilding in Goa and its unique selling points for developing maritime industry. ‘Ship design and architecture was the forerunners of the Maritime and shipbuilding Industry in Goa’, Chowgule recounted. Goa’s maritime segment broke through as an industry, as a result. He also shared his thoughts on the future of the Goan Shipbuilding industry, government policies and infrastructure development.

  Investing in design, research and development, leads to saving cost incurred due to production delays and wastages, B.B. Nagpal, Director, Goa Shipyard Ltd. added. The highlight of this event was the participation of Innovation Norway (IN) – Norwegian government’s official trade representation in India. Pankaj Patil represented IN at the seminar and emphasized the need for collaboration between India and Norway to develop India’s maritime and ocean economies. He also emphasized the need for clustering of maritime stakeholders in Goa, as it was a successful, sustainable business model practiced in Norway.

Prasad Sawant, CEO of Buoyancy Consultants – one of India’s leading ship design firms based in Goa spoke about the latest technological trends in shipbuilding industry. He further emphasized the use of modern ship design software, whereby the cost incurred in corrections of design faults, detected in construction stage is eliminated. “A 5% investment in design yielded 50% of savings in labour and on time delivery costs,” he further stated.

Technical sessions that were also presented at the seminar included:

1)   Vijaykumar Dialani, Director Marine, Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), who spoke of ‘Opportunities due to up-gradation of National waterways’ explaining how various waterways are awaiting development and the ships that are going to ply on them.

2)   Inderveer Solanki, Senior consultant, IWAI, highlighted the ‘Potential in dredging activities’.

3)   Dr. Vishwanath Nagarajan, Associate professor, IIT Kharagpur, presented on the topic ‘R&D progress for inland waterways transport’ explaining design of vessels on rivers, shallow water effects, importance of correct vessel dimensions, grounding of vessels, and energy wasted in operating in shallow waters.

4)   Shrikrishna Kamat, Chief General Manager, Goa Shipyard Ltd. (GSL), inviting ‘Private participation in construction of Naval Ships’ highlighted GSL’s contribution to the local shipyards by providing direct orders and sub-contracts, thus helping them survive the difficult times.

This new buzz in the Indian shipbuilding industry is a big opportunity for the people of Goa; it has the potential to change the regional economic situation. It can provide a thriving maritime business, which was evident in Goa’s maritime history. And finally, to provide an environment for innovation and through it, provide sustainable solutions to some of our societal problems including brain drain. Clusters of businesses act as micro power houses offering advantages from consortium opportunities, easier market reach, economies of scale, outreach ease and group benefits to industry sectors that would otherwise be non-existent for silos. Every leading blue eco-system has developed one, and their activities include preserving ecologically sensitive areas, local businesses and CSR activities.

The right time for the stakeholders to organize to form a ‘Goa Maritime Cluster’ is now!


The writer is a Marine Technologist

With inputs from Satish Paliencar, HOD Shipbuilding-ISBT

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