The "Tiankun", Asia's largest cutting-edge dredger, at Qidong in Jiangsu province, June 8, 2018. (Photo/VCG)
China has recently started building a new cutter-suction dredger that its designer called the biggest and best of its kind in Asia.
This type of dredger is known as an "island-maker" due to such ships' major role in land reclamation.
Construction of the new vessel, which has yet to be named, began in mid-May at Huangpu Wenchong Shipbuilding Co in Guangzhou, a subsidiary of the industry giant China State Shipbuilding Corp. It is expected to take about a year, according to Zhang Xiaofeng, the ship's chief designer at the Marine Design and Research Institute in Shanghai, one of CSSC's research arms.
Zhang told China Daily in an exclusive interview that engineers and workers are building the ship's primary sections. It is scheduled to be moved into water in mid-2019.
He said the vessel will be 148 meters long, have a fullload displacement of 18,700 metric tons, and will be capable of breaking and dredging coral reef or hard rocks from 38 meters below the sea's surface.
After sand, clay, rock or crushed coral is drawn out of the waters, it can be conveyed as far as 15 kilometers away from the ship thanks to the world's most powerful and longest conveyance system. Suctioned material can be piled up to form new land.
The new ship's cutters will be stronger and more powerful than those mounted on its predecessors, enabling the vessel to deal with harder rock and more complex seabed conditions, the chief designer said.
China has been advancing so fast in the field of cutter-suction dredgers that every few months it produces anew entry at the top of the rankings of Asia's largest and most powerful "island-maker".
Before the new ship takes its place in the rankings, the crown is being held by Tiankun, which just finished its first sea trial and is set to be delivered to the user soon.
Before Tiankun, the Tianjing, a vessel codesigned by Chinese and German engineers and now deployed by China Communications Construction Co's Tianjin Dredging Co, had been Asia's No 1 dredger for more than seven years and had taken part in land reclamation operations in the South China Sea.
In addition to cutter-suction dredgers, other types of dredgers have recently been designed by the Marine Design and Research Institute such as trailing suction hopper dredgers.
Such dredgers are often used to maintain navigable waterways or to build new land, according to the institute, which is now building four trailing suction hopper dredgers.
The Ministry of Commerce and General Administration of Customs published a notice in May 2017 that no individual or entity is allowed to export large dredgers unless it is expressly permitted by the government.