Staff reporter

KOCHI: Ships designed in Kochi will soon cruise world’s oceans with the Cochin Special Economic Zone (CSEZ)-based centre of the Bahamas-based Smart Engineering and Design Solutions Limited (SEDS) completing the first of its designs, now undergoing tests in Europe.

The SEDS unit started functioning in the Cochin Special Economic Zone in the second half of last year after leasing around 10,000 sq ft of built-up area. The unit, employing nearly 100 highly skilled designers, is now engaged in developing an optimised hull form, which will be highly fuel-efficient, an activity in keeping with the long-standing maritime history of Kochi. SEDS is promoted by Antony Prince, born in Aluva, and an influential player in international ship building industry.

He had been instrumental in bringing substantial building orders — six vessels costing more than Rs.400 crore, to Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL). Recent news reports had indicated that Algoship Brokers Limited and SEDS, both Nassau-based and promoted by Antony Prince, had forged a strategic alliance with Conoship International BV, of Groningen, The Netherlands, to promote shipbuilding in India and other countries.

The development of SEDS’ Kochi centre comes at a time when shipbuilding is poised to take a major leap here with Cochin Shipyard getting the Union government nod for setting up small ships division at a cost of nearly Rs.100 crore. The small ships division, likely to be commissioned by the end of next year, had been planned in view of the building India’s first indigenous air defence vessel at the shipyard here.

The Union Shipping Ministry is also looking at locations on the East and West coasts of the country for setting up two shipbuilding hubs.