DOST-MIRDC seeks to boost shipbuilding, ship repair industry; a study in full swing

Seeking to empower the country's shipbuilding and ship repair (SBSR), the study team of the Department of Science and Technology – Metals Industry Research and Development Center (DOST-MIRDC) is conducting a series of consultative meetings with industry players.

The next thing the team will do, according to the agency, is to convene with the shipyards of the NCR on June 15, 2023, in Navotas.

The first engagement of the team was with the SBSR industry players and stakeholders in Cebu in April.  This was followed by a consultative meeting with the Zamboanga SBSR industry held last May 17 at the Zamboanga Peninsula Polytechnic University (ZPPSU).

During the meeting, Kenji T. Olaso of Aleson Shipping said that Zamboanga has a weaker SBSR industry compared to Cebu with regard to ship design while Naval Architect Dan Bolanos of Frabelle Shipyard Corporation added that only licensed naval architects are allowed to design ships and there are only about 1,037 naval architects in the Philippines as of 2021, and many local shipyards in the Philippines rely only on AutoCAD for their design work.

However, Engr. Jerry C. Cacacha did not agree with the statement that Zamboanga shipyards are weak, but rather stated that SBSR should know the basic principles of building ships and that workers are less exposed to SBSR industry trends.

He likewise shared that Filipinos lack ship design skills and students taking ship-related courses like welding will have better chances of improving their skills if they are given opportunities to experience on-the-job training in shipyards.

Moreover, he highlighted the need to determine and set standards for the metal composition of materials that will be most suitable for maritime use.  According to him, this can be done through the collaboration of researchers, metal companies, and the government.

This suggested that R&D activity can potentially lead to the development and, ultimately, the availability of a highly rust-resistant metal despite constant exposure to seawater.

He also underlined the issue of the absence of a local steel mill, which will help meet the demands of the SBSR industry.

Dr. Josephine L. Sulasula, Vice President of Administration and Finance, mentioned that the current initiative that MIRDC is doing is very timely.

“We are planning to revive shipbuilding and ship repair courses in ZPPSU to produce a pool of workforce that will serve the SBSR industry,” she said.

The active participation of the industry in the consultive meeting in Zamboanga mirrors how actively it is willing to support the DOST-MIRDC as the DOST-SBSR industry engagement continues to unfold.

Presently, the DOST-MIRDC is in close coordination with the DOST-NCR, NCR shipyards, and the MARINA in preparation for the dialogue to be held in Navotas.

Looking ahead, the industry study team will visit more SBSR industry players in Regions III, VI, and XII.  The Center is gearing up to determine the most appropriate science, technology, and innovation-based interventions for the SBSR industry through the consultative meetings and surveys that the industry study team is conducting at present.