With our Aqua Expedition’s regional office on the cusp of opening in Phnom Penh in Cambodia, we return to the ship-building scene in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to catch up with the exciting progress of the construction of the Aqua Mekong. We’re in the shipyard every week now to oversee the progress of the vessel which is much further along since our last update.
The hull has been finished in almost record time – three and a half months to be precise – and the hard-working team have pulled out all the stops to ensure it’s ready on time and in line with our schedule for our September 2014 launch.
Let us show you a snapshot of the superstructure taking shape…
Here you can see the final details being made to our very last block – Block 240 – the Bow Block of the vessel. The block remains this way round until the surface protection and painting of the steel is complete.
And then it’s time to protect and paint the hull of the vessel. The team paints the structure with anticorrosive surface protective paint to ensure smooth operation and that it will stand the test of time once it is in the water. As the Aqua Mekong will operate in the freshwater flows of the Mekong River’s Delta the process is not nearly as laborious as for sea bound vessels operating in salt water, as the river’s fresh water is easier on the steel. This red paint is the first of many layers used to coat the hull. Each block of the river cruise ship has to be painted and treated individually before being moved into the main hall of the shipyard to be reassembled. Here is one of the central parts of the vessel’s hull, Block 203, being given the finishing touches to its paintwork:
At the other end of the shipyard, the painted and protected bow is all set to be connected to the other blocks of the overall structure. Here you can see the team manoeuvring the blocks towards each other. Thanks to smart planning and our onsite team and marine consultants, the pieces will slot perfectly together to create the hull structure.
Here is another bird’s eye view of the bow block arriving at the superstructure of the hull (on the left of the photo). This block will be inverted and then connected to the main structure. It is an incredibly special moment to see the sleek, clean lines of the vessel come together as expected, and to be able to walk the entire length of the hull – 62.4 metres in length overall:
And here we have it – the complete hull and superstructure of Aqua Mekong. All the main machinery is now in place – the two engines, the generators, the AC chiller and the water treatment plant and main electrical board. For those of us that been watching this project from the drawing board and beyond, this is a defining moment.
You can also see the structure of the cabins taking shape, center stage. This will be the next major part of Aqua Mekong’s build, the superstructure and the interiors are coming together as we speak. The initial “mock-up” cabin is complete – next come the crew cabins, before finally the guests’ cabins themselves.
We are very happy with the building progress and successfully reaching our construction milestones on time and on budget. We are well on our way for our September 2014 Aqua Mekong launch and look forward to sharing the next instalment of our journey from shipyard to cruising the Mekong river with you soon. Until our next progress update!