Meghnaghat-based Ananda Shipyards said it signed agreements worth around $180 million while Chittagong-based Western Marine put its total orders to more than $70 million.
"It's a huge leap forward for us. If the trend continues, ship building in Bangladesh will be the second largest exporter after garments in 2015," chairman of Ananda Shipbuilders Abdullahel Bari said.
"If we can grab one per cent of the global order for small ships, the amount will be worth $4.0 billion. The global market for small ships is now about $400 billion," said Shakhawat Hossain, managing director of Western Marine.
Their comments follow what the experts said an epoch-making year for the country's ship building industry, which earlier had been languished in building smaller launches and tankers for local operators.
Experts said the country has become a new destination for companies seeking construction of small ocean-going vessels as traditional shipbuilding nations such as South Korea and China now focus on building large ships.
Even Vietnam, which is relatively new in ship building, is no longer interested to build small ships weighing upto 25,000 dead weight tonnes.
"They want to build bigger vessels because it is relatively cheaper and requires fewer people," Hossain said, adding their reluctance has made India and Indonesia the new destinations for small shipbuilding.
The focus on Bangladesh came in April last year when Ananda signed deals worth around $100 million with two German shipping companies to build eight vessels with capacity for 325 containers by June 2010.
"As far as I know this was the single biggest export order for the country. The contract sealed our name as a new ship building country in the global map," Bari, a former professor of naval engineering, said....