MOSCOW, Russia – The president of Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) has announced plans to build the country’s first cruise liner since the 1950s. Aleksey Rakhmanov says construction will begin this year.
According to Rakhmanov, USC will continue to construct vessels and various marine engineering for the oil and gas industries.
Established in 2007, USC is the largest shipbuilding company in Russia. The state-owned firm unites shipyards, design offices and ship repair facilities, accounting for 80 percent of the domestic shipbuilding industry.
Since Turkey and Egypt became off-limits for Russian tourists, there has been an approximately 800 percent hike in bookings for cruise liners inside the country, according to business daily Kommersant. The most popular destinations are river cruises from Moscow to St. Petersburg and Kazan.
Many tourists who chose holiday cruises used to vacation in Europe. But after the ruble crashed, they simply cannot afford it anymore.
The Soviet Union had a fleet of ocean liners that made cruises on the Black and Baltic Seas. These ships were mostly built in East Germany, Finland and Yugoslavia. The vast majority of these vessels, operated in the Soviet era, have now been written off for scrap.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia had troubles with local shipbuilding, as many technologies were lost in the 1990s. According to Rakhmanov, USC is now trying to catch up with something that hasn’t been done in the last 20 to 25 years.
One of the main problems of Russian military shipbuilding is the production of engines. Before the deterioration of Moscow’s relationship with Kiev, Russia imported engines from Ukraine. The problem of supplying engines became acute after Kiev severed military-technical cooperation with Moscow over Russia’s annexation and occupation of Ukrainian Crimea and aggression in Eastern Ukraine. In 2015, the Industry and Trade Ministry promised to substitute Ukrainian engines in 2017 or 2018.