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Ministry of Shipbuilding Industry
[6th Ministry of Machine-Building]

Initially military and civil ship construction was the responsibility of the 6th Ministry of Machine-Building. In the 1950s the Soviets first assisted the Chinese shipbuilding industry, then the Chinese copied Soviet designs without assistance, and finally the Chinese produced vessels of their own design. By 1986 China had 523 shipyards of various sizes, 160 specialized factories, 540,000 employees, and more than 80 scientific research institutes. The main shipbuilding and repairing bases of Shanghai, Dalian, Tianjin, Guangzhou, and Wuhan had 14 berths for 10,000-ton-class ships and 13 docks.

China's three leading shipbuilders are Dalian Shipyard, Shanghai Hudong Shipyard, and Jiangnan Shipyard. Branch companies and sub-groups are located in Shanghai, Dalian, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Chongqing, Kunming, Jiujiang and Xi'an. Companies specialized in particular trades are set up in Beijing, Shanhai and Shenzhen.

1998 Ranking of China Shipyards Gross Dwt (Thousand Tons)
Dalian New Shipyard 630
Hudong Shipyard 500
Dalian Shipyard 285
Guangzhou Shipbldg Intl 178
Bohai Shipyard 129
Jiangnan Shipyard 118
Jiangdu Shipyard   91
Shanghai Shipyard   84
Tianjin Shipyard   78
Zhonghua Shipyard   57

CSSC was the world's third largest shipbuilding company, ranking third after Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK). Chinese yards enjoyed a reported 7.5 per cent share of world-wide orders in 1996, with a 10 per cent share targeted by the turn of the century. Production totalled 1.9 million tons in 1996, compared with 420,000 tons in 1982 when China State Shipbuilding Corp. was established. CSSC incorporated 25 large and medium sized shipyards, 57 marine equipment manufacturing plants, 36 R & D and design institutes, 3 colleges and 4 vocational schools. In the late 1990s there were 27 shipyards, 67 factories and 37 R&D institutes. CSSC planned to lay off about 30,000 workers in 1998, with another 60,000 slated to be let go in the following two years, reducing the total workforce from 300,000 in 1998 to 210,000 by 2000.

As of early 2001 there were well over 200 shipbuilders and numerous shipbuilding-related R&D institutions in China. Although Chinese shipbuilders are competitive with Japanese and Korean shipbuilders in terms of price, they lack creative design capacity and state-of-the-art technologies.

Together, the China State Shipbuilding Group Co. (CSSG) and the China Shipbuilding Heavy Industries Group Co. (CSHIG) account for 50% of China's shipbuilding capacity. The two groups were created in July 1999, when the former China State Shipbuilding Corp. was split along north-south lines into CSSG and the CSHIG. The CSSG is made up of 58 member enterprises, including 30 shipbuilding/repairing firms, nine research and design institutes and 19 auxiliary enterprises. The CSHIG has 96 member enterprises, including 48 shipbuilding/repairing industries, 28 research and design institutes and 20 auxiliary enterprises.

Both the CSSC and the CSSG began constructing large new manufacturing facilities before the ban on new shipyard building projects was put in place. The CSSG is constructing a $850 million facility that will be one of the largest shipyards in the world, in Shanghai's Pudong District. The Shipbuilding Centre, as the new facility is known, will be completed in 2002, and will have a manufacturing capacity of 1.8 million DWT per year. Its technical capabilities will be similar to those in Japan and Korea's top shipyards. At the same time, the CSHIG is constructing a $1.2 billion shipyard in Qingdao. The yard is centred around four deep-water docks and will have a production capacity of 1.8 million DWT annually. The CSHIG's new yard is expected to be one of China's most advanced shipbuilding facilities.

In August 1950 the PLA Navy put forth a procurement policy of building a light-duty sea surface fighting force, based on air (naval air arm), submarine (submarine force) and boat (torpedo boat) forces, with other developments as a supplement. In order to build naval ships, in October 1950 the Ministry of Heavy Industry of the Central Government organized the Bureau of Shipbuilding Industry in Shanghai. At the same time, the Navy also organized the Shipbuilding Division to take charge of overhaul and building task of naval ships. In accordance with the technical assistance agreement signed by China and USSR in June 1953, China began to carry out the production by licensing of five types of ships i.e. frigate, medium-sized torpedo submarine, base minesweeper, large submarine chaser and torpedo boat.

In 1954, the Shipbuilding Industry Management Bureau organized the Ship Product Design Branch in Shanghai, which was later in 1955 renamed the First Ship Product Design Office). With Xin Wei as director and Li Zirao chief engineer, the branch was the unit in charge of building the five types of ships transferred by USSR for production, and it also was responsible for solving problems encountered in construction work. At the same time, the Bureau was also responsibre for reconstruction and extension work for six shipyards and two construction sites which were undertaking the work of assembling and building these five types of ships. From 1955 to the end of the fifties, under the guidance of Soviet specialists, these shipyards had built and assembled more than 100 ships, and through the production by licensing a number of qualified people were fostered for Chinese shipbuilding science and industry, many main shipyards were reformed. Thus a primary foundation was laid on for the development of naval vessels.

While building Soviet-type ships by assembling, China began to establish ship research organizations and testing facilities to satisfy naval equipment needs. In 1954, the First Ministry of Machine Building (MMB) organized the Ship Model Testing Institute with Xin Yixin and Fang Wenjun as principal responsibles, and after 1957, it was enlarged into the Ship Science Research Institute of the First MMB and the Ministry of Communication. In 1958, the First MMB organized the Ship Product Design Institute and other four research institutes, i.e. Marine Steam Turbine Research Institute, etc. with Jia Shengde as the deputy director and Sa Benqi as chief engineer of the Design Institute. Starting in1958 the Navy successively organised four research institutes for ship, underwater weapon, hydro-acoustics and navigation. In 1959, the Navy organized the Science and Technology Research Division with Y u Xiaohong as director and Jiang Yongwei as political commissar, in full charge of the research work for naval ships, weapons and equipment. In Shanghai, Xian, Dalian and Wuhan, universities and the Military Engineering Institute also, one after another, established faculties of shipbuilding and naval weapons and equipment to train specialists on a large scale.

On 04 February 1959, the Chinese and Soviet governments signed the "Agreement on the Assistance to the People/s Republic of China by USSR for Building Warships by the Chinese Navy" (the so-called "February 4 Agreement"). Under this agreement, the USSR transferred to China, for compensation, the license for complete sets of overall plan drawings and a part of equipment for a conventional-powered ballistic guided missile submarine, an improved version of medium sized conventional-powered submarine and two types of guided missile speedboats. In addition, an overall plan and weapon and equipment drawings and reference materials for a hydrofoil torpedo boat were supplied to China for copying.

In order to master the new technology of shipboard guided missile weapon, in October 1959 the same year, the Navy Party Committee made a report to the Central Military Commission. The main points of this policy were: in the naval weapons and equipment, put guided missile in the first place, with constant improvement for conventional equipment; take the development of submarine as the focal point, with the small-sized and medium-sized surface ships under constant development. This made clear the development direction of naval weapons and equipment, and hastened the transition of naval ships and weapons and equipment from copying Soviet designs to developing Chinese designs.

In 1960, the Ship Industrial Management Bureau was incorporated into the Third MMB, and the Military Ship Overall Design Office under the Ship Product Design Institute was extended into seven offices with new offices of torpedo, navigational instruments, etc. and the organization of a large ship model test base' for ship hydrodynamics in Wuxi also began, thus laying a foundation for further development of ship science and technology.

In August 1960, at the moment when the shipyards and shipboard accessory equipment factories were actively engaged in production preparation and going into operation on building the five types of transferred ships, weapons and equipment in accordance with the "February 4 Agreement." the USSR withdrew her specialists, suspended the technical assistance and material supply. China then decided to establish research organizations to develop ship science, technology and industry by herself in the aim of developing naval ships, weapons and equipment.

In June, 1961 the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China [CCCPC] approved the organization of a Warship Research Academy (the Seventh Academy of the Ministry of National Defense -- the "Seventh Academy" in brief), based on the ship research and design organizations of forces of the First, the Third MMB and the naval research units. The new academy was responsible for research and design of naval ships, weapons and equipment, and solving the technical problems appearing in imported technology. After its establishment, the Seventh Academy successively organized various research institutes for ship overall plan, principles and characteristics, primary motive power, special auxiliary machines, nuclear submarine overall plan and various equipment, as well as the Division of Overall System Study.

In 1963, after the establishment of the Sixth MMB, a number of research institutes such as the institute of shipbuilding, machine-building, instrumentation, technology, standards and information etc. were also formed. The establishment of these organizations, together with the research facilities such as the ship model tank, test laboratories, test ranges etc., which were all set up in the mid-sixties, served favorable foundations for copied ships to have all parts domestic-made and for independent development of naval ships, weapons and equipment. The Seventh Academy concentrated 79% of its technical force, closely co-operated with factories to complete the assembling and copying work of torpedo boat, torpedo submarine, guided missile boat, guided missile submarine and torpedo, and ensured that all the equipment and materials needed were domestic-made.

In the mid-1960s the Seventh Academy of the Sixth MMB began to develop with its own effort the first generation of ships, i.e. nuclear powered submarine, ocean-going survey ship, guided missile destroyer, guided missile frigate and medium-sized torpedo submarine, and began to develop weapon and equipment such as self-guided torpedo, new-type mine, rocket-type depth charge, shipboard artillery etc. In order to meet the needs for independent development of the first generation of ships, the State supported the Seventh Academy to develop ship science and technology.

At the end of the 1960s China already produced, with domestic materials and facilities, conventional submarines and torpedoes, guided missile boats, and also fabricated weapons and equipment such as several types of mines, depth charges, shipboard artillery, minesweeping gear, etc. and also designed with her own effort surface ships such as anti-submarine corvette, gun frigate, etc.

By the end of the 1970s, a complete system, which runs from research, design to production; from ship overall plan, materials to weapons and equipment; and from testing to operation and maintenance; as well as a nationwide accessory co-ordination network was gradually formed. These basically accomplished the development and research task of the first generation of ships, weapons and equipment. In the early 1980s, in accordance with the development plan of national defense science and technology, the Sixth MMB arranged a unified plan for the developmental work on naval ships, weapons and equipment, persisting in the direction of "shorten the frontline, stress key links, grasp firmly on research, and speed up renewal." Starting from improving the tactical-technical performance of the existing ships, weapons and equipment, the plan called for gradually shifting the focal point onto the development of a new generation of ships, weapons and equipment, in anti-air, anti-submarine and anti-missile weaponry with more powerful electronic countermeasures and higher command automation. The new plan envisioned fully utilizing the opportunity of opening to le outside world to introduce in new technology and strengthening the preliminary research work so as to lay a sound foundation while improving technical for further development.

At the end of the 1980s, while accomplishing the complete assembly and improvement of the first generation of ships, the China State Shipbuilding Corporation organized the development of the second generation of ships, weapons and equipment, carried out the tests on conventional submarine and nuclear submarine, and the important retrofit work of the "Yuan Wang" instrumentation ship. This signified that the development of China's warships and their weapons and equipment have been raised into a new base.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:45:49 ZULU