Sand Boats: Bigger and Better


Cummins Vessel Reference #759

The off-load conveyor reaches about 35 meters out from the bow.

On lower reaches and estuaries of China’s great river the ubiquitous sand boats, with their low profile and long elephantine conveyors protruding from the bow transport untold amounts of dredged material to dry land. In the past year, the Feijun Shipyard, located in the Pearl River estuary, delivered 40 new vessels, the majority of which were sand boats.


Cummins Southern China Manager Linda Zhang tries out the wheel on the bridge.

As with so much in China’s maritime world these boats have grown in size and complexity. Recently the shipyard’s manager, Mo Qianfa, took a small group on a tour of one such boat as it neared completion. The boat, 88.2 by 19.5-meters, has a hold capacity of 3400 cubic meters. Looking aft from the bow, the holds, with the extensive piping for fresh water flushing after the salty sand has been removed, show their V-shaped bottom to allow the sand to slide to the bottom. There is one long hold space divided by partial bulkheads, running nearly the full length of the vessel, along the bottom of the hold there are 150 shutter doors controlled by hydraulic rams.


The ship has huge holds.

The off-load conveyor extends about 35 meters out from the bow to allow the sand to be placed well up on the shore. Descending into the fo’c’sle the group saw the workings of the off load system. A heavy oil, 1000 kw auxiliary engine, turns a large drive wheel for the conveyer that discharges over the bow. It also turns a second drive to keep the huge belt that extends under the length of the hold just below the 150 shutter doors. This second endless belt is 250 feet long by 1.4-meters wide and 14 m/m thick.


Fuijun Shipyard manager Mo Qianfa (left) shows Cummins Manager Linda Zhang and Guang Zhou Shun Fung Engineering’s Liang Zhong De the design work for a sand boat.

Walking aft, under the holds and beside the conveyor, the group was able to climb to the deck level just ahead of the accommodation and wheelhouse that are mounted well aft over the engine room. The boat has a total of eight engines in addition to the one mounted forward to drive the conveyor belts. Two Cummins KTA38-M engines of 780 HP each provide propulsion power. There are also two locally built 150 kW, one 120 kW and one 50 kW gensets. Mounted half way up the side of the holt, two fresh water pumps for washing the salt out of the hold. One of these is a 500-HP Cummins KTA19-M while the other is a large locally built engine.


The Feijun Shipyard delivered 20 vessels last year.

Boats of this type have proved remarkable successful for the Feijun Shipyard with customers also coming from Malaysia and Singapore. While prices vary depending on how the boat is fitted out, but yard manager Mo Qianfa indicated that they range around US $3,000,000. With the rate of expansion in Eastern and Southeastern Asia it seems likely that the yard will be busy for some time to come.

For further information:

Mo Qianfa
Yard Manager
Feijun Shipyard
Boluo County
Guangdong Province,
Telephone: 0752 680 5321
Mobile: 1392 834 8155

Liang Zhong De
Deputy General Manager
Guang Zhou Shun Fung Engineering Ltd.
No. 801, 8/F, Tian Yi Building
No. 644 Tong Fu Dong Road,
GuangZhou, China
Postal Code: 510220
Telephone: 020 3424 9183 | 3424 9229
Mobile: 86 1390 306 8790

Linda Zhang
Manager: Southern China
Cummins Inc., East Asia Marine
Phone: 86 20 3998 2999
Mobile: 86 136 0004 0695

Alan Haig-Brown

Alan Haig-Brown

Over 30 years as an author for global commercial marine and fishing publications backed with hands-on experience on commercial fishing boats and coastal freighters makes Alan Haig-Brown uniquely qualified to provide vessel reference articles for Cummins Marine. You can find him in shipyards around the world, and on his own website,

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