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By John Helmer, Moscow

Roman Trotsenko (centre), chief executive of the state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), has resigned suddenly. No reason has been announced by USC, which has confirmed that Trotsenko is leaving by July 1.

First appointed by the Kremlin in 2009 to oversee the consolidation of state stakes in shipyards around the country, and inspire the shipyard managers to boost domestic new vessel orders, Trotsenko had been a millionaire developer of commercial real estate and airports, and owner of the Moscow River Shipping Company.

He was appointed by Igor Sechin (left), then the first deputy prime minister in charge of the energy and maritime sector, who also took the chairmanship of the USC board. Last year Sechin stepped down as chairman of the board; then left the government last month in order to run the oil and gas sector as chief executive of the state oil holding, Rosneft. Sechin was replaced as chairman by the powerful steelmaker and owner of a shipping company of his own, Vladimir Lisin (right).

A statement issued by USC to Fairplay described Trotsenko’s tour of duty as mission accomplished: “At present, with the formation of the corporation and the acquisition of its businesses, the programme of crisis management has been fully implemented.” A source in St. Petersburg told Fairplay that once Sechin distanced himself from the maritime sector, Trotsenko lost a powerful ally. “The resignation would have happened,” said the source, “but not so quickly.” Another source, a Moscow–based maritime expert says Trotsenko’s exit reflects “a combination of factors — he didn’t build anything; he didn’t deliver what Sechin expected; he talked too much.”

Trotsenko has been unable to cut through ministerial and legal wrangles preventing USC from taking control of the two St. Petersburg shipyards, Northern and Baltic. He and the Navy and Defence Ministry have tussled over budget and costs of building military vessels. He has also come under public criticism for delays in completing the two new fareastern shipyards being constructed in joint ventures with Singapore and South Korea — Vostok-Raffles and Zvezda-Daewoo. Few of the federal government’s targets for a lift in numbers of new ships to be constructed and launched have materialized.

Trotsenko is reported today in Kommersant, a Moscow business newspaper, as saying his replacement will be voted by government officials on the USC board before the end of June. He also said the two candidates are Anatoly Bales, currently a vice president at USC, and Andrei Dyachkov, a veteran manager at Sevmash, the submarine builder at Severodvinsk, on the White Sea.

A well-known Russian shipping figure told Fairplay: “I have to admit with bitterness that probably the Stalin method of management – to put all the managers in a common prison to find solutions — is more effective for the Russian shipbuilding industry.”

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