Hong Kong-headquartered Cheoy Lee Shipyards is consolidating its position as one of the leading tug builders in the South East Asian region
These are busy times for Cheoy Lee Shipyards. The company's wholly owned and managed Hin Lee (Zhuhai) Shipyard facility at Doumen, on the Pearl River Delta, China is seeing a steady increase in output. Following on from the successful completion of a series of tugs in 2016, a further five tugs have been delivered in the first quarter of 2017.
The most notable recent deliveries from the yard are Blackbeard and Raptor, two 32m ART 80-32 LR-class RotorTugs, delivered to Elizabeth Ltd and Seabulk Towing, for the recently formed Kotug Seabulk Maritime joint venture. These were deployed at the Blackeye Hub, in the Bahamas, earlier this year. Each of these tugs has an 80-tonnes bollard pull rating.
“The Rotortugs are the most significant tugs we build in terms of overall sophistication, as they are equipped with three azimuth stern drives (ASD) and the advanced Alphatron Bridge, among other features,” said Cheoy Lee Shipyards sales manager Jonathan Cannon. “These are not the first Rotortugs we have built, as we delivered four tugs of this type to Kotug in 2014.”
The yard has also delivered two 32m RAmparts 3200CL tugs, Calypso and Junkanoo, to the same owners this year. These more conventional ASD harbour tugs have a 70-tonnes bollard pull capability.
Designed exclusively for Cheoy Lee by Robert Allan Limited, the RAmparts 3200CL has been the most popular tug type for the yard in recent years, with more than 20 of this design delivered to date. During 2016 and 2017, in addition to the pair for Seabulk Towing and Elizabeth, Cheoy Lee completed two 70-tonne bollard pull RAmparts 3200CL tugs for Svitzer, three for Cape Preston in Australia, one for PT Limin in Indonesia and two for the Boluda group, for operation in Manzanillo, Mexico. The yard has also recently handed over a pair of 60-tonne RAmparts 3200CL tugs for Polestar Maritime.
The ongoing, close collaboration between Cheoy Lee and Robert Allan is further reflected in continued demand for RAstar-type tugs. Deliveries in the last year have included two RAstar 3200 tugs, rated at 80-tonnes bollard pull for Svitzer and a 78-tonnes bollard pull version of the same design for the Mauritius Port Authority.
Reviewing the Cheoy Lee orderbook the increased geographic scope of its deliveries is clearly evident. From 2012 to 2016, the majority of its tug output was destined for local end-users in South East Asia and in Australasia. While these markets are still important, new areas, including operations in Central America, the Caribbean and Africa are opening up.
Pointing out that the shipyard is currently building tugs for clients in India, Kenya, Mexico and Australia, Mr Cannon said: “Despite the challenging market conditions there are still opportunities for tug builders, and we are giving greater consideration to new regions to market our vessels. We are also seeing regional variations in tug requirements. Generally there is a leaning towards more compact tugs, but retaining a capability to match larger vessels in harbour and terminal towage situations.
Cheoy Lee’s 28-acre Hin Lee site is divided into specific areas for fibreglass, aluminium and steel construction. This ability to work in different materials has been an asset in less favourable market conditions. Since opening the Hin Lee shipyard in China 17 years ago, the business, now being run by the fourth and fifth generation of the Lo family, has been through three major expansion phases. Mr Cannon added: “No further expansions are planned for the immediate future, although we continue to invest heavily in machinery and yard equipment.” As well as tugs, the yard is currently building a wide range of other vessel types, including passenger vessels, harbour work boats and windfarm vessels.