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DSME invigorates its value through autonomous ships

The Korean shipbuilder may be enhancing its value to make it more difficult to acquire

The Korean Register (KR) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Company Ltd (DSME) to jointly research the development of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) technology. This came shortly after Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings’ (HHIH) proposal to merge got rejected.

On a new direction
The agreement will have both collaborating to develop autonomous operational technology to ensure the safety of the next generation of maritime transport. DSME is developing a large autonomous merchant ship due for launch in 2025. As part of its development, DSME has built a ship called DAN-V to test the technology it has created based on the smart ship solution DS4. The company also plans to conduct a step-by-step demonstration of DAN-V through operational tests at sea, including equipment interwork and remote adjustment.

The KR will apply its rules, cyber-security certification and risk-based approval to certify DAN-V based on its digital operating data, in accordance with KR’s ‘Guidance for Autonomous Ships’ that was enacted in 2019. Dong-kyu Choi, Executive Vice-President of DSME’s R&D Institute said: “In cooperation with KR, we are able to verify and certify a test ship equipped with autonomous operating systems based on DSME’s own smart ship solution DS4. We aim to make our position solid in the future autonomous ships market.”

Daeheon Kim, Executive Vice-President of KR’s R&D Division added: “As the shipbuilding industry gradually heads towards smart, autonomous, and unmanned ships, this is a great opportunity to apply KR’s guidance to DSME’s test ship and its autonomous operating systems. We will provide technological support to ensure the development of autonomous ship technology and advanced certification through our cooperation with DSME, acting as a cornerstone for international standardisation.”

Last September, unionised workers at DSME famously protested against the merger with HHIH. Kang Ju-yong, from the labour union said, “We opposed to the deal as it was made by behind-the-scene talks, not by open bidding, and will cut our jobs undermining job security.” He added the deal will stifle about DSME’s 1,240 suppliers, because HHIH’s shipbuilders have been supplied ship parts by their own affiliates. With DSME’s current projects, it is a clear message that the company is heavily focused in upping its value either to avoid being acquired, or making it hard to be acquired unless the right bid is offered.

Marine Online News Team
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