Hyundai Heavy to halt South Korean shipyard
Shipbuilder continues trimming production in response to weak demand
KENICHI YAMADA, Nikkei staff writer
SEOUL -- Hyundai Heavy Industries, South Korea's largest shipbuilder, will suspend operations at its shipyard in Gunsan amid a slowdown in orders for tankers and other vessels that looks unlikely to improve anytime soon, it was learned Thursday.
The Gunsan shutdown, to begin in June, is just the latest step taken by Hyundai Heavy to streamline production since last year. The company has already halted work at two of the 10 docks at its main shipyard in Ulsan in southeastern South Korea.
The Gunsan facility in the southwest employs an estimated 700 workers, 300 of whom have been moved to Ulsan. Hyundai Heavy appears to be considering transferring the remainder to subsidiaries, among other options. Shutting down the Gunsan shipyard's single dock will consolidate production at Ulsan.
A slump in ocean-freight rates has eroded worldwide demand for ships. Japan's Kawasaki Heavy Industries has announced plans to scale down its domestic shipbuilding operations by 30%.