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LCQ13: Ship repair and maintenance services
     Following is a question by the Hon Frankie Yick and a written reply by the Acting Secretary for Transport and Housing, Dr Raymond So Wai-man, in the Legislative Council today (January 10):
     Some members of the trade have relayed that due to the ageing of ships, the demand for ship repair services has increased in recent years. However, given an incessant decrease in the number of ship repair sheds following the development of the waterfront, coupled with the increase in the time taken for ship repair and maintenance due to a shortage of ship repair personnel, ships in need of repair often have to wait for as long as several months.  Consequently, the operation of the vessel trade and the livelihood of personnel working on ships have been affected. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it knows the youngest, oldest and average ages of each type of ships registered in Hong Kong at present;
(2) whether it knows the respective numbers of ship repair sheds and personnel in each of the past three years; whether it conducted in the past three years any study on the demand for ship repair services and personnel in the coming decade; if so, of the details; if not, whether it will conduct such a study immediately;
(3) whether it knows the average waiting time in the past three years for services of repair and maintenance of ships;
(4) whether it will make available more waterfront sites and adjoining waters for letting out to the ship repair industry at concessionary rates; and
(5) whether, in order to alleviate the manpower shortage of the ship repair industry, the Government will (i) step up the promotion of the qualification framework for the ship repair industry so as to enhance the professional image of ship repair personnel and attract young people to join the industry, and (ii) increase the amount of the monthly financial incentive currently provided to ship repair apprentices?
     Hong Kong has a long-established maritime tradition and a vibrant maritime services cluster. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government has been committed to developing the maritime, port and shipping industry. With regard to local vessels, providing timely and sufficient repair and maintenance services, as well as nurturing more ship repair talents are essential to port operation and safety, and the sustainable development of the industry. 
     Our reply to the five-part question raised by the Hon Frankie Yick is as follows:
(1) Over 90 per cent of ships registered under the Hong Kong Shipping Register are ocean-going vessels, which in general seldom undergo repair and maintenance operation in Hong Kong except for urgent ship repairs. As for local vessels licensed under the Marine Department, details on their respective ship ages are set out in the table below.
Age (Year) Class of local vessels (Note 1)
Class I Class II Class III Class IV
Lowest < 1 < 1 < 1 < 1
Highest 60 61 57 51
Average 24 20 17 10
(2) The Government does not maintain exact statistical information on the numbers of ship repair sheds and their employees. Yet, it is of our understanding that currently there are around 70 shipyards in Hong Kong providing ship repair services.
     According to the 2016 Manpower Survey Report of the Maritime Services Industry of the Vocational Training Council (VTC), among the 657 "ashore business" (Note 2) companies surveyed, relevant companies providing "technical and consultancy" (Note 3) services altogether hired over 3 000 employees in 2016; and the report envisaged that such demand would rise to about 3 160 in 2018. Among the aforementioned 657 surveyed "ashore business" companies, 14 of them are marine equipment, shipbuilders and ship repair companies which altogether hired a total of about 1 200 employees working on principal jobs (such as maintenance staff, technicians and ship surveying) in 2016.
(3) The Government does not maintain relevant statistics regarding the average waiting time for local vessel repair and maintenance services. According to local vessels’ trade association, ship owners would normally contact ship repair providers about one to two months in advance for scheduled repairs. Duration of the repair and maintenance of a ship would be subject to the scope of repair items.
(4) The about 70 shipyards as mentioned above are located in different areas, including Tsing Yi, Aberdeen, Ap Lei Chau, Stonecutters Island, Shau Kei Wan, etc, for providing ship repair and maintenance services for vessels. Under general circumstances, relevant shipyards let out by short term tenancies are subject to full market rent. The Government supports the continual use of the shipyard sites for the same purpose of providing ship repair and maintenance services required by vessels. Having regard to the scarcity of waterfront sites and the extremely strong demand for land from various land users, we encourage operators of the ship repair sector to enhance efficiency of the existing facilities, with a view to fully utilising the current shipyard land.
(5) The Government established a $100-million "Maritime and Aviation Training Fund" (the Fund) in April 2014. The "Ship Repair Training Incentive Scheme" is among one of the funded programmes which provides a monthly incentive subsidy of $1,500 for a maximum period of 36 months (i.e. a maximum subsidy of $54,000) for eligible graduates of VTC who have joined the apprenticeship training of the ship repair industry. The Scheme aims at attracting and encouraging young people and in-service practitioners to undertake training and join the ship repair industry, thereby enhancing the overall competitiveness and the professional standards of the sector. The Government has been consulting the industry and relevant training institutions from time to time on the operation of the Fund and provision of various subsidy schemes, which include the adjustment of the incentive subsidy level of individual schemes.
Note 1: Locally licensed vessels are divided into four categories which are: Category I – passenger carrying vessels; Category II – cargo vessels; Category III – fishing vessels; and Category IV – pleasure vessels.
Note 2: According to the definition of the 2016 Manpower Survey Report of the Maritime Services Industry of the VTC, "ashore business" covers various types of work.  Apart from marine equipment, shipbuilders and ship repair, it also includes maritime services (such as ship finance, ship broking, shipowning and management, marine insurance and maritime law), container terminal operation, yacht club operation as well as inland water transport.
Note 3: The job areas under "Technical and Consultancy" include technical support, repair and maintenance, routing and planning, marine-cargo surveying, ship surveying (e.g. line manager, ship's technical manager, engineering manager, marine-cargo surveyor, licensed pilot, marine consultant/officer, surveyor of ship, hull surveyor, marine electronics technician, shipyard/ship repairer, technical superintendent, electrical superintendent, management trainee).
Ends/Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Issued at HKT 14:30
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