PARIS — Nestled among giant displays from perennial attendees such as Fincantieri and MBDA at Euronaval are models from a newcomer, one that surprised a number of regular observers.
Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) brought large models of home-build Aegis destroyers, air-independent propulsion submarines, patrol boats and support ships to Paris, all meant to show off the prowess of one of Asia’s rising warship builders and, hopefully, garner new business at Europe’s largest naval show.
“We have had a remarkable series of events,” said Sung-Jin Lee, a senior DSME manager for special ship overseas marketing.
“We signed a deal in 2011 with Indonesia to build three submarines,” he noted, “and we have another contract with the United Kingdom to build four MARS tankers for the British Navy.”
The submarine deal broke a longstanding chokehold by European shipbuilders to supply Asian countries unable to build their own undersea craft.
And the 452 million pound deal for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability tankers, announced in February, shocked observers with the news that they’d be built overseas, although British firms will handle the design work.
The deal was a major coup for Daewoo, who, Lee said, now sees greater opportunities in Europe.
“Euronaval is one of the big exhibitions,” he said. “Our potential customers are here, and we have to find our opportunities here.”
The company is a full-service shipbuilder, Lee claimed.
“We have full capabilities, not only in production but design. We can provide everything a customer demands,” he said.
The company’s catalogue includes a number of sophisticated warships for the Republic of Korea’s Navy, including Aegis destroyers similar to those of the U.S. Navy.
One potential customer DSME is wooing is Norway. The oil-rich country, whose defense budget has not suffered the austerity cuts that have swept Europe, is considering construction of an ocean-going support ship — a contract Daewoo would love to have.
Norway also is considering a modernization program for its existing submarine fleet, and has longer-range plans to procure new subs — two more contracts Daewoo is targeting.
“We have experience with submarines of the same type Norway operates,” Lee noted.