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Japan's Imabari launches extra-large container ship

Shipbuilder takes aim at South Korean rivals with the massive vessel

TOKYO -- Japan's Imabari Shipbuilding on Friday launched one of the world's largest container ships, manufactured using original techniques to reduce construction time and costs to better compete with South Korean peers.

The massive ship is 400 meters in length and can fit 20,000 20-foot-equivalent units. Built in the company's Saijo shipyard in Ehime Prefecture, the vessel will now be outfitted with piping and equipment, to be handed over to Mitsui O.S.K. Lines in October.

Imabari has also received orders for similar-sized ships from Taiwanese transport conglomerate Evergreen Group and plans to build about 13 such ships by the end of 2019. The container ships will be constructed at Imabari's 420-meter-long dock at its Saijo shipyard as well as at its operational headquarters in Marugame, Kagawa Prefecture, where it is constructing a new dock that is about 600 meters long. Imabari will employ its unique manufacturing method, where it assembles steel plates into blocks and fastens them together on the dock. This reduces both construction time and costs.

New ship orders are sharply declining due to overtonnage worldwide. While South Korean shipbuilders compete by lowering prices, Imabari hopes to attract new orders through its cost competitiveness and shipbuilding technology.


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