KOCHI: The Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL) which has earned its reputation as a shipbuilder capable of building any type of vessel is now keen on the ship repairing sector. In an interview with Express, CSL chairman and managing director Madhu S Nair elaborated on the company’s expansion plan in ship building and repairing.Q. CSL has commenced construction of the International Ship Repair Facility (ISRF) and recently signed an MoU with Mumbai Port Trust for management and operation of the facilities at Mumbai Port Trust. Where else are you planning similar facilities outside Kerala?

A. There are unused or under-utilised dry docks at different ports in India. Most of them were built during the British era. They now remain idle. We are looking to develop a port-based ship repair facility. After Mumbai, discussions are on with the Kolkata Port Trust to develop their dry docks. We are also holding talks with the Andaman and Nicobar Administration (ANA) to set up a facility at Port Blair. On the investment side, CSL need not make a huge investment as a facility already exists there. What we have to do is revamp the existing facility.

While an investment of `80 crore and `20 crore is expected for facilities at Mumbai and Kolkata port respectively, we are not investing anything at Port Blair but our expertise. ANA will make the required investment. ANA operates 80 ships. Of these, 10 are big ships the repair of which is being carried out by us. ANA is looking for CSL’s expertise. We are also looking to develop a facility at Goa Port. What remains an obstacle is a litigation the Goa Port Trust has with a company over the dock. Once the dispute is settled we will be ready to get in. 

Q. How big is the ship repairing sector in India? 

A. The ship repairing industry in India is worth `3,000 to `5,000 crore. India has a huge potential in this segment. CSL earned `585 crore through ship repairing. It is estimated repair work worth `1,000 crore is being carried out in India in a year. Ship repair is profitable than shipbuilding. A the same time, it is a high- risk business. You have to complete the work and deliver the vessel in a time-bound manner. For this, you should have the expertise. 

Q. CSL is building the country’s first indigenous aircraft carrier. You had successfully built and delivered 20 vessels for the Indian Coast Guard recently and have been awarded the `5,400-crore contract for building eight ships for the Navy. You have signed a Memorandum of Intent (MoI) with the DRDO to work together to create a partnership for the export of defence vessels built by the shipyard. Is CSL gradually shifting from the commercial shipbuilding segment?

A. No. It depends on the order. Cochin Shipyard Ltd is capable of building any type of ship with technical partnership. We are the lowest bidder in the tender for building naval ships. Hence, the work was awarded to us. We are also building passenger vessels for the Andaman and Nicobar Administration. The signing of the MoI with the DRDO is aimed at tapping opportunities in defence shipbuilding in the future. The DRDO has 54 laboratories across the country and has a set of technologies. They are to be integrated with the ships built by the CSL. We have to get orders from foreign countries. As of now, there are no export orders. 

Q. When will CSL deliver the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier being built for the Navy? 

A. Work on the aircraft carrier is at an advanced stage. The IAC is expected to be handed over to the Navy by the end of 2020. 

Q. Which are the other projects the CSL is working on other than the aircraft carrier? 

A. Besides the aircraft carrier, CSL is building five vessels, including a Technology Demonstration Vessel (TDV) for the DRDO and four passenger vessels for the Andaman and Nicobar Administration. The TDV is expected to be delivered by the end of this year. The passenger vessels - two 1,200-seaters and two 500-seaters, will be delivered in 2019 and 2020.