|Derring-do: Skipper Le Van Sang (front right) inspects the 1200hp fishing boat he built recently and which is now working along the entire Viet Nam coastline. It has been so successful that Sang, wants to build a 2,000hp vessel that will cast a wider net. VNS Photos Nam Cuong
A Da Nang fishing boat skipper has plans to build a powerful fishing boat with long-range capabilities. He hopes to exploit a wider range of fishing grounds and create more jobs. Nam Cuong reports
Aged just 27, skipper Le Van Sang from Da Nang has astonished other fishermen with his ambitious plan to build Viet Nam's biggest ever fishing ship.
Boasting 2,000-horsepower, Sang hopes his ship will conquer faraway waters and provide fresh opportunities for fishermen from his hometown.
Just six months earlier, the young seaman launched another giant ship, the DNa 90444 with 1,200 horsepower, drawing the attendance of leaders from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development who were eager to mark this new milestone in Viet Nam's fishing modernisation.
"It's very rare for captains to be as daring as Sang," says Le Thi Hanh, chairwoman of the local farmers' association.
Sang is the eldest child and the fourth generation of his family to have worked as a fishermen. After 30 years of working the high seas, they have built up an impressive property in the city.
After successfully launching the DNa 90444 ship, Sang nurtured a much more risky idea: building a 2,000 horsepower vessel.
Inspired from the outset, he immediately embarked on outlining the project, opening capital channels, checking the available budget and setting ambitious goals such as launching the ship by the end of 2013. If Sang succeeds, his ship will be the biggest ever built in the country by a fisherman and will be used to sail back and forth from the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands.
Le Men, Sang's father, says he was intially doubtful. "His intention of building a 1,200-horsepower ship panicked me. It was after the ship had been completed that I felt at ease," he recalls. "However, he still wants to build the biggest ship in the country. Nothing can hinder his determination."
Sang seems to be very serious about his ship project, which is demonstrated through his sketch of the 2,000-horsepower behemoth.
"Basically, this ship will be an enlarged version of the DNa 90444 ship and will be equipped with an 800-horsepower pusher, allowing it to reach maximum capacity. The most important factor is that its weight is much heavier than that of the previous ship, as its fish container is twice as wide. In addition, its steering cabin and interior will feature modern designs. It will cost a large sum of money, but it will be worth it."
In such a difficult economic context, many people would baulk at the idea of building such a huge ship just six months after successfully sailing their first big ship, but Sang is determined. "My ship is considered a giant one," he says. "But it is like a delicate bamboo leaf on the vast ocean. So surely it is better to build an even bigger ship."
|On the job: Sang (right) talks to one of 35 people he employs.
Recently, Sang received the Luong Dinh Cua Award – a prestigious prize for 300 young people who gained high achievements through working with, producing and handing technology. Among the 300 recipients, Sang was the only fisherman to gain recognition.
"At last, fishing has been praised, and we've even received an award", Sang says proudly.
His DNa 90444 ship has provided jobs for about 30 to 40 local workers, who each earn at least VND7 million (US$350) per month. After subtracting expenses, Sang's family earns over VND120 million ($6,000) monthly.
According to Sang, since DNa 90444 ship was first launched, his number of customers has increased dramatically. Most offshore fishermen look forward to seeing captain Sang's ship arrive to cater for their demands.
"My business is not operated smoothly according to expectations, because my ship was born in a crisis period when the price of oil kept increasing, while the customers' buying power was decreasing," Sang says.
"But then the confirmation of the quality of the sea products has prevented my ship from rocking on sailing to the open sea. My only difficulty now is the inability to satisfy all the demands of the fishermen," he continues.
According to Sang, the quality of the seafood has been increased, because the time of fishing onshore and offshore has been shortened thanks to the high speed of the 1,200- horsepowe ship. Additionally, the seafood container on the ship has been coated with modern PU paint, preserving the freshness of the seafood.
"Unfortunately, when we supply oil and goods for a ship offshore, it means that the portion of another ship will be taken, so many fishermen have reproached us. At those times, I wish I had many big ships to supply oil and fetch the fish quickly."
Nguyen Van Luan, a fisherman on DNa 90444, says: "Never before in 20 years fishing offshore have I sat on a more comfortable ship. It is such a great pleasure to leave the harbour at nightfall and contemplate the crack of dawn in the country's vast sky the next morning."
"Everyone looks forward to the day Sang finishes his 2,000-horsepower ship so that we can experience the pleasure of sailing across the sea," says Le Van Dien, another fisherman.
DNa 90444 ship is now serving fishermen not only from the central provinces of Hue, Da Nang, Quang Ngai and Binh Dinh, but also from the northern and southern provinces, so Sang needed to build another giant ship to meet the increasing demand.
"It will help to enrich not only myself, but also my colleagues. Together we will work and share the fortune we earn. What keeps me going is doing something to confirm the country's sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands. For young fishermen, there is only one way: building giant ships to seize control of the vast sea," Sang says. — VNS