Shipbuilding in Bangladesh
Shipbuilding is a growing industry in Bangladesh with great potentials. Bangladesh has a long history of shipbuilding dating back to the early modern era. However, shipbuilding has become a major promising industry in recent years when the locally made ships began to be exported. Bangladesh has now over 200 shipbuilding companies, mostly concentrated in Dhaka, Chittagong, Narayanganj, Barisal and Khulna.
Because of the riverine geography of Bangladesh, ships have been playing a major role in the trade affairs of the people of this country since the ancient times. According to the accounts of the 14th century Moroccoan traveler Ibn Batuta, there used to be large fleets of warships docked in various ports of the country. A medieval European traveler Caesar Frederick documented that the port city of Chittagong was a manufacturing hub of large ships during the mid 15th century. The volume of shipbuilding swelled extensively during the Mughal period. During the 17th century, the shipyards of Chittagong used to build warships for the Sultan of Turkey.
The Royal Navy had many warships built in Chittagong, some of which were also used in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Khulna Shipyard, the first modern shipyard of Bangladesh, was established in 1957, constructed by a German firm. Initially a private concern, the shipyard was later nationalized and came under the control of Bangladesh Navy in 1999.
In 1979, the sector received its first foreign investment after the independence of Bangladesh when Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Industry, a Japanese enterprise, formed a joint venture with High Speed Shipyard of Bangladesh to establish a shipyard at Fatullah, Narayanganj. By the 2000s, several more private shipyards were established and in 2008, Bangladesh became a ship exporting country.
Ananda Shipyard and Shipways Limited (ASSL), founded in 1983 on the bank of Buriganga river, became the first Bangladeshi shipbuilding company to export an ocean-going ship when it transferred the locally built "Stella Maris" to a Danish firm. ASSL has since then secured several more contracts, mostly from the European countries. Western Marine Shipyard is another company, based in Chittagong, which has secured many export contracts.
The potentials of shipbuilding in Bangladesh has made the country to be compared with countries like China, Japan and South Korea. Referring to the growing amount of export deals secured by the shipbuilding companies as well as the low cost labor available in the country, experts suggest that Bangladesh could emerge as a major competitor in the global market of small to medium ocean-going vessels.