South Korean large shipbuilders are expected to deliver over 500 ships this year, the highest figure ever.

According to Korea Shipbuilders' Association (Koshipa), its nine member companies, which are major shipbuilders, have completed over 400 newbuildings last year and they would turn over more than 500 ships to shipowners for the first time in 2009.

The nine shipbuilders' output accounts for 90% of the total ship production in Korea and they handed over a total of 407 vessels in 2008, up around 20% from 340 units in 2007.

Last year, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) delivered over 100 vessels for the first time. Other major shipbuilders such as Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI), Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), STX Shipbuilding and Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction (HHIC), etc also have expanded their output.

In 2009, the output growth rate is expected to increase with the nine shipbuilders planning to hand over 522 newbuildings, up around 30% against 2008.

Newbuilding order boom since 2004 and shipbuilders' expansion of building capacity contributed to the increase in shipbuilding output.

As for HHI, its FPSO-exclusive dock is set to be completed within this month and its new yard Gunsan Shipyard is scheduled to launch the first ship in November this year.

Also, SHI's No. 3 floating dock starts operation this month and DSME has completed the expansion of its No. 2 dock in November last year.

In 2009, HHI plans to deliver 119 ships (102 in 2008), SHI 63 ships (53 in 2008), DSME 75 ships (55 in 2008), HHIC 35 ships (20 in 2008).

Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries aims to hand over 40 ships this year (35 in 2008) and Hyundai Mipo Dockyard 72 ships (70 in 2008).