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Japanese shipbuilders place bets on containerships, tankers

TOKYO -- Japan Marine United and Tsuneishi Shipbuilding are pouring billions of yen into shifting production away from bulk carriers in favor of building other vessels that promise strong demand.

JMU is committing 3 billion yen ($29.8 million) toward the Kure Shipyard in Hiroshima Prefecture to raise production capacity for 14,000-unit containerships. The money will be used to expand coating facilities and install new cranes that lift hull blocks. The new equipment is to be operational in summer 2017.

The company has orders for 15 large containerships, with two already completed. Annual output is to rise 40% to five containerships.

Tsuneishi is spending 2 billion yen to 3 billion yen to start making midsize tankers next year at the company's Hiroshima Prefecture shipyard. The plant will receive more machinery to process steel, and some buildings will be expanded. Capacity for hull blocks will rise by over 20%.

Both Japanese shipbuilders are looking beyond mainstay bulk carriers, which transport iron ore and coal. Demand for those vessels is slumping amid a global glut in freight space and the slowdown among emerging economies. JMU's shipyard will specialize in making containerships after the new equipment is operational. Tsuneishi's dockyard will make midsize tankers along with bulk carriers.

(Nikkei)

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