A report on the shipbuilding of “SEA SPICA,” the high-speed sightseeing cruiser for island hopping in Setouchi. Vol.2 shows you the “Reversal Procedure” where the ship is turned over. / West Japan Railway Company 【PR】

The high-speed sightseeing cruiser “SEA SPICA” will be born in summer of 2020!

“SEA SPICA” is a high-speed sightseeing cruiser, and the “West Japan Railway Group” and “Setonaikai Kisen Group” are developing this special ship together.
Our first report on the shipbuilding was about the excellent process of building the ship body with an aluminum alloy.
We will talk about the “reversal procedure” done during the ship building in this second report.
2 members of STU48, Mitsuki Imamura, the captain of STU48, and Arisa Mineyoshi are our reporters.
An idol group based in Setouchi area, STU48 is the official ambassador of the “SEA SPICA.”

Mr. Shintaro Kawaguchi, who is the sales director of “Setouchi Craft Co., Ltd.”took us on a tour, as he did in our previous report.

The “reversal procedure,” where the hull is turned over

Imamura asked a question to Mr. Kawaguchi.
“What is the ‘reversal procedure’?”
Mr. Kawaguchi answered, “It is the process of turning over the hull, which has been built upside down.”
That certainly seems true.
The bottom of the “SEA SPICA” hull in front of us faces up.

“All the alminum ships we built are made using this method,” Mr. Kawaguchi continues, “the part of ship we are seeing now is called the hull, and this is the main part of the ship which floats on the water. And also, the alminum frame is assembled inside of this part. It is efficient for the shipbuilding to be carried using this process, with the hull bottom upside down until this point, having been built over the U-shaped frame and the deck.”

Now, the preparation for carrying out the “reversal procedure’” has been done while we were listening to the explanation by Mr. Kawaguchi.
Here we go!

All the staff in their blue working uniforms have a serious look on their faces.
They totally understand each others’ roles during this process and move without hesitation.
The inside of the factory is nearly silent, we only hear the operating noise of the cranes and the instructive voice of a staff veteran, integrating the entire operation.

At first, they hook up the cranes to 4 pulleys attached to the hull (2 for each side) in order to hoist the whole body.
The operation is done with 4 cranes of 5 tons and 10 tons.
Each crane has one operator and they operate it separately using their own controller.
The pulleys attached to the hull are all made of thick aluminum plate, and they are all welded firmly in place, because they should have enough strength to be hoisted.

When the hull is hoisted, the bases which the hull had been resting on should be removed quickly.
This is the moment when everyone gets nervous.
The staff works underneath of the lifted hull, so this process needs to be secured properly to ensure safety.

Finally, “SEA SPICA” has been turned over!

With a cue from the supervisor, the hull turns over slowly with a loud noise!
The hull is gradually hoisted obliquely as its left side is pulled upwards.
It is an unbelievable sight because this huge structure is floating in the air and leaning to one side.

When it has almost been turned to the point where the ship appears to be laying on its side, the cables on the right side of the body replace those on the left and hoist and continue the turning of the hull. Suddenly, the hull is no longer upside down, and now it assumes the shape we usually see.
The bases are again put underneath of the hull, and it is set down on them.
The process of “reversal” is done, and 45 minutes have passed since it started.

The operation proceeded coolly and steadily, so it seems easy and simple.
But this process needed the cooperation of every staff member, and used sensitive techniques. It is not as easy as it looks.
We are thankful that we could witness this precious moment!

After the reversal procedure, Imamura from STU48 looks bright and cheerful and says, “My heart was pounding while I watched the process, because this was one of the most important parts of the shipbuilding. It was impressive that veteran staff were able to delicately fix the position of the hull with cranes. The function is carried out only once during the entire shipbuilding process, and I am so happy that I could witness it.”

“I could feel the tension of the staff during the operation. The teamwork was just amazing. The staff member who sees the entire view and gives instructions, the staff who accurately operate cranes, the staff who put bases underneath the hull so quickly right after the hull was turned over… all the staff members steadily played their roles,” says Mineyoshi.
This reversal procedure is the turning point of the whole process of shipbuilding until the completion.

Please look forward to the next report, vol.3!

Setouchi Finder Editorial Department

The name of the vessel : “SEA SPICA”

SPICA is the brightest star in the constellation Virgo.
This star shines blue at night in spring, and is one of the first-magnitude stars which forms the Spring Triangle.
It is called the “pearl star” in Japan.
The vessel brilliantly and beautifully shines, and invites people to have free and open travel on the blue sea in Setouchi – this is SEA SPICA, the Setouchi high-speed sightseeing cruiser.

Setouchi Palette Project

Name of the course|Setouchi Shimatabi Line
Operation area|Tobishima Kaido and Shimatabi Kaido area which connects Hiroshima Port (Ujina) and Mihara Port
Operated by|Setouchi Sea Line (a group of Setonaikaikisen)
Ship owners| Japan Railway Construction, Transport and Technology Agency (JRTT) and Setouchi Shimatabi Corporation
Shipyard|Setouchi Craft Co., Ltd.

“SEA SPICA” contributes to “C to Sea Project” run by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and Maritime companies, which introduce people to the enjoyment of the sea, and vessels to liven up the sea.
Umikoko by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism

C to Sea Project in “Setouchi” carried by the Department of Transportation in the Chugoku area
Website of Department of Transportation in Chugoku (C to Sea Chugoku area)

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