SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—South Korean shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction-Philippines Inc. (HHIC-Phil) marked another milestone here on Thursday by unveiling the CMA CGM Antoine de Saint Exupery, the first 20,600 TEU container vessel built in Subic and one of the biggest ships ever built in the world.
The ship has an overall length of 400 meters, a width of 59 meters, depth of 33 meters and gross tonnage tipping at 217,673 tons.
With a deck as big as three football fields combined, the CMA CGM Antoine de Saint Exupery is considered one of the biggest ships in the world today, HHIC-Phil officials said during the completion ceremony held at the firm’s Redondo Peninsula shipyard.
The mammoth container vessel, which was named after the French aristocrat and literary icon Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, was built over a period of one and a half years, from February 8, 2016, when the first steel cutting was made, to its launching in August 19 last year.
The CMA CGM Antoine de Saint Exupery is the first of three 20,600 TEU container ships that HHIC-Phil has committed to build for the French container transport and shipping firm CMA CGM (Compagnie Maritime d’Affrètement-Compagnie Générale Maritime, translated as Maritime Freighting Co.-General Maritime Co.).
Two other vessels of the same size and type are in advance stages of shipbuilding at Hanjin’s 326-hectare shipyard here.
The vessel completion ceremony here on Thursday was graced by noted government officials, led by former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, under whose administration the Hanjin shipyard was launched.
According to HHIC-Phil President Gwang Suk Chung, the delivery of the Antoine de Saint Exupery “represents a breakthrough in global shipbuilding,” as the Korean company’s cutting-edge technology complemented by the skills of Filipino workers successfully launched vessels of higher tonnage and value.
Chung also recalled that “the intensive support of the Philippine government” gave the Korean a robust head start in the country’s shipbuilding industry.
HHIC-Phil officials said that the firm still has a number of high-value commercial vessels on order with their launchings and deliveries spread across 2018 and 2019. These include liquefied petroleum gas carriers and crude-oil carriers, among others. In January last year, the HHIC-Phil marked another milestone with the delivery of Gener8 Hector, the first “very large crude carrier” ever constructed in the Philippines. The vessel was delivered to the United States-based crude-oil shipping company Gener8 Maritime.
In her speech, Arroyo cited the $2.3-billion investment by HHIC-Phil in the Subic Bay Freeport. She also noted that the Korean firm had also built a massive training facility for local workers.
Meanwhile, SBMA Chairman Wilma T. Eisma thanked HHIC-Phil on behalf of President Duterte, pointing out that the Hanjin shipyard had played a vital role in national economic growth.
“With the 113 ships that Hanjin has delivered since it began operations in 2007, Hanjin’s presence in the Subic Bay Freeport has made the Philippines the fourth-biggest shipbuilding nation in the world,” she said.
Eisma also urged the Korean firm to look after its Filipino workers, who are an integral part of the success of the company. “We ask you to protect our people, to look after our facilities, because Subic is our home,” she added.
Image credits: Henry Empeño