South Korea’s third-largest shipbuilder, Hanwha Ocean, reports work was suspended at its shipyard facility in Okpo after a fatal accident. An investigation is underway with the yard expected to remain closed until government officials determine the cause and prescribe preventative steps to be taken at the facility.
According to the reports, there was an explosion in one of the fabrication shops at the shipyard on Friday, January 12. At approximately 3:20 p.m. there was an explosion in the facility working on manufacturing rudder. A subcontractor in the facility, a 28-year old man, whose name and nationality were not released, was hit by debris from the explosion. His body was knocked across the shop. The individual was taken to the hospital for treatment but succumbed to his injuries.
Hanwha Ocean reported this morning, January 15, that production at the Okpo yard has been suspended and that the resumption date will be determined based on the results of the investigation and only after it receives permission from the Ministry of Employment and Labor.
Immediately after the incident, the company says it informed the police and the Ministry of Employment and Labor. It is believed to have been a gas explosion possibly from a ruptured line, but the investigation will determine the cause and what steps the shipyard is required to take to prevent another similar incident.
Hanwha Ocean advised in a stock exchange filing that it expects “some production disruptions.”
The shipyard reportedly missed its 2023 order target as the company transitions from the former Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering to Hanwha Ocean after a controlling interest and management of the company were sold by the government-controlled banks which were the creditors and largest investors in the former DSME. Korea Development Bank had said at the time of the sale that it believed investments were required in the yard’s operations to maintain its competitiveness.
Hanwha Ocean and Samsung Heavy Industries recently entered into a cooperation agreement. The unusual agreement between competitors will have Hanwha Ocean produce blocks for containerships being built at the Samsung yard. Recent reports denied by Hanwha Ocean said the shipyard is focusing on high-value contracts deciding to forego containerships that have lower margins. Hanwha Ocean emphasized that it has a large backlog while its new parent company looks to increase naval work and realize opportunities with its work in military systems.
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