South Korea has pledged to expand financial support measures and invest US$135.9 million in technological development for autonomous vessels and eco-friendly ships. According to the Ministry of Trade, the move aims to secure local shipbuilders’ position in the global market.
Trade Minister Lee Chang-yang travelled to Ulsan to inspect shipyards and announced financial support plans to boost the industry. Lee attended the naming ceremony of the country’s first liquefied natural gas bunkering ship, Blue Whale, equipped with a homegrown KC-2 cargo design. The advanced cargo design was laid down at the dockyard of Hyundai Heavy Industries in Ulsan in 2020.
According to Lee: “The world has a close eye on our shipbuilders’ technology and manufacturing capability, and the business environment is changing favourably for us, with ship prices rising and more demand for environment-friendly vessels. At the same time, we are challenged with China’s technological pursuits and Europe’s strong future mobility technology. The government will spare no effort to support the industry’s rebound and for market leadership in the future.”
The government investment will help fund ships with alternate energy sources such as hydrogen, ammonia and electricity. The country is leading in the global market for large-scale LNG carriers, securing contracts of 17 out of 19 ships ordered, according to the Ministry of Trade.
South Korean shipyards will need 14,000 additional workers this year. The Ministry says that it has been working with the industry and related ministries to secure about 5,500 workers, including foreigners.