Engineers with Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co are working on China's first smart crude oil carrier, which will incorporate technology to help the captain operate the ship.
The company is undertaking a special project named "smart ship 1.0 R&D", assigned by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, according to Guan Yinghua, deputy chief engineer of DSIC.
"The very large intelligent crude carrier will be the most important result of the project," said Guan, adding that smart vessels represent the future.
"We must seize the chance to innovate and upgrade our products. Unmanned vessels will be built as automation and intelligence keep improving and auxiliary decision-making becomes more effective," she said.
DSIC, based in Dalian, Liaoning province, built the country's first domestically developed aircraft carrier. It is a subsidiary of State-owned shipbuilding giant China Shipbuilding Industry Corp.
This year, the shipyard has delivered 24 high-end vessels, including large container ships capable of carrying 20,000 standard 20-foot containers, advanced deep-water semi-submersible drilling platforms, China's biggest ship for transporting live animals and a very large chemical tanker.
DSIC's annual revenue is expected to exceed 20 billion yuan ($3.05 billion). The company is pushing China's shipbuilding industry to shift from conventional shipbuilding to high-end vessels.
In July, the shipyard delivered a 319,000-ton crude carrier to China Merchants Energy Shipping Co.
It is among the new generation of energy-saving and environmentally friendly ships classified as very large crude carriers and independently developed by Guan and her fellow engineers.
DSIC is the nation's first shipyard that can design and manufacture 300,000-ton crude carriers.
It has delivered more than 70 VLCCs and has eight orders, accounting for more than 10 percent of the total number of such carriers in operation worldwide.
As a delegate to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Guan said she was excited to hear Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, call innovation the "primary driving force behind development" and "the strategic underpinning for building a modernized economy".
Guan said, "Large-scale State-owned enterprises must unswervingly implement the national strategy, and the pace of scientific and technological innovation cannot be stopped."
Since the international financial crisis in 2008, the shipbuilding industry and the offshore industry have been in a downturn. Despite that, DSIC has delivered more than 380 high-performance civilian ships to owners around the world since 2006.
DSIC's service spans the entire life cycle of a ship, including research and development, construction, repair and scrapping.
Guo Ping, a professor at Dalian Maritime University, said that with a growing technical level and competitive prices, Chinese shipyards are winning more orders.