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World’s largest cruise ship built 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 latest vessel in the Oasis series – the Harmony of the Seas – rapidly took shape at the STX France yard in Saint-Nazaire (France).

One of the major challenges of the project was the sheer volume of steel required to build the Harmony of the Seas. As the sole steel supplier, ArcelorMittal delivered all of the heavy plate and hot rolled sheets required 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 had precise dimensions and formats. This placed additional pressure on ArcelorMittal to deliver all orders on time and in full. “Even if just one or two plates were left out of an order, it could have had a major impact on the project timeline,” explains Serge Hily, Sourcing Manager for STX France.

Steel deliveries started in September 2013 and continued 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 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 were delivered by ship directly from ArcelorMittal Gijón (Spain) to the STX France shipyard in Saint-Nazaire. Each delivery – there were one or two per month – carried between one and two thousand tonnes of steel which was consumed by the project in as little as two weeks.

ArcelorMittal implemented a continuous improvement cycle to iron out any issues as they arose. “Each time there was a problem, we undertook a full analysis to determine why it occurred, and how we could 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 was back on track very quickly,” notes Laurent Castro.

STX France increases capability with large gantry crane

To complete the Harmony of the Seas 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 Harmony of the Seas 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.

Harmony of the Seas 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