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  • An oasis on the sea

World’s largest cruise ship takes shape at record speed

With less than four years between signing the contract to build the world’s biggest cruise ship and the expected delivery date, STX France faced an incredible challenge to meet their client’s expectations. But thanks to a long and close working relationship between ArcelorMittal and the shipbuilder, the next vessel in the Oasis series – codenamed A34 – is rapidly taking shape at the STX France yard in Saint-Nazaire (France).

One of the major challenges of the project is the sheer volume of steel required to build the A34. As the sole steel supplier, ArcelorMittal will deliver over 33,000 tonnes of heavy plate and 9,000 tonnes of hot rolled sheets to complete the vessel. Thicknesses range from 5.5 up to 40 mm. Thinner plate is used to form the ship’s decks while the thicker plate forms the hull.

On time and in full

Many of the plates have precise dimensions and formats. This places additional pressure on ArcelorMittal to deliver all orders on time and in full. “Even if just one or two plates are left out of an order, it can have a major impact on the project,” explains Serge Hily, Sourcing Manager for STX France.

Steel deliveries started in September 2013 and will continue for just over a year. “It was important for us to have a steel supplier that could commit to such a long contract,” notes Hily.

To ensure the ArcelorMittal mills, logistics and customer teams were on the same page, a series of meetings were held with STX France at the start of the project. This enabled the customer to explain how they operate to ArcelorMittal and created strong links. “ArcelorMittal’s close proximity is nice but not essential,” notes Serge Hily. “More important are the direct contacts we have established. We can immediately contact the right ArcelorMittal people in Customer Service and the technical department at the mill.”

Continuous improvement cycle implemented

Most of the heavy plates are delivered by ship directly from ArcelorMittal Gijón (Spain) to the STX France shipyard in Saint-Nazaire. Each delivery – there are one or two per month – brings between one and two thousand tonnes of steel which can be consumed by the project in as little as two weeks. Re-runs and urgent orders are delivered by truck using the regular Gijón to Saint-Nazaire ferry service known as the ‘maritime highway’.

ArcelorMittal has implemented a continuous improvement cycle to iron out any issues as they arise. “Each time there is a problem we undertake a full analysis to determine why it has occurred, and how we can prevent it happening in the future,” explains Laurent Castro, ArcelorMittal’s Key Account Manager for the project. For example, deliveries were affected by the bad weather which hit Europe in the early part of 2014. “We created a plan to recover from the delays and everything is now back on track,” notes Laurent Castro.


STX France increases capability with large gantry crane

In order to complete the A34 in the timescale required, STX France decided to build a new, very large gantry crane. With a lifting capacity of 1,400 tonnes, the new crane has enabled STX France to build A34 in bigger sections, reducing construction time.

The company utilised steel plate from ArcelorMittal Gijón for the main beam. The beam is 144 metres in length and 10 metres high. When fully extended, the crane provides 90 metres of working area.


A34 in figures

  • Length: 361 metres
  • Width: 66 metres
  • Height: 72 metres (20 decks)
  • Cabins: 2,700 with accommodation for 6,300 people
  • Crew: 2,100
  • Maximum capacity: 8,400 people (crew and passengers)
  • Gross register tonnage (GRT): 227,000 tonnes

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Copyright pictures: STX France