The demise of British Shipbuilding

dsftm
13th January 2006, 14:33
Just why have most of the yards shut. It's very easy to blame Thatcher et al but there must be a more specific reason. Nationalisation perhaps, unions taking liberties?

It is interesting talking to my father (80 years old) he started out as a rivet catcher then a riverter on the Wear, worked piece(sp?) work and says that he grafted all day for his money.

My brother on the other hand worked in the yards in the 70s/80s and tells tales of nightshift consisting of going to work, messing around for a couple of hours then getting changed to go to the town clubbing. Return to the yard at 3am, sleep for a couple of hours then go home.

What on earth went wrong??

James_C
13th January 2006, 16:54
Union unrest (particularly in the 70s and 80s) was certainly a nail in the coffin, but it wasn't the beginning of the end or the end, just a contributing factor (and one of those which caused my company to finally bite the bullet and go foreign).
The major problem was, and still is low cost competition from foreign yards, predominantly in the Far East (Korea, Japan and China) where the cost of labour is far lower than the likes of the UK.
There is also the fact that when UK yards are compared to their Korean couterparts, well, there is no comparison. Your average UK yard looks like a museum piece whereas the scale of operations at the huge yards of Hyundai, Samsung and Mitsubishi has to be seen to be believed.
The only yard which came close (still a mountain range of difference though) was Harland & Wolffs, but even that has shut down it's shipbuilding operations, with most of the yard to become houses (surprise surprise).
In short, the UK couldn't compete on price, had it's well documented industrial problems, had woefully inefficent yards and working practices, and more importantly, simply didn't modernise quickly enough to take advantage of the high value niche market for the likes of Passenger ships and specialist vessels.

Tmac1720
13th January 2006, 17:01
James C hit the nail squarely on the head. In Harland's we tried our best and diversified where we could but it was like trying to nail jelly to the ceiling, totally fruitless. We were competing against far east yards who could deliver a 100,000 tankers for a price less than we could buy the steel for. In the end the land the yard stood on was worth more than the business and so it was sold for re-development. Over 150 years of shipbuilding history, gone at the stroke of a pen. (Night)

william dillon
13th January 2006, 20:56
Just why have most of the yards shut. It's very easy to blame Thatcher et al but there must be a more specific reason. Nationalisation perhaps, unions taking liberties?

It is interesting talking to my father (80 years old) he started out as a rivet catcher then a riverter on the Wear, worked piece(sp?) work and says that he grafted all day for his money.

My brother on the other hand worked in the yards in the 70s/80s and tells tales of nightshift consisting of going to work, messing around for a couple of hours then getting changed to go to the town clubbing. Return to the yard at 3am, sleep for a couple of hours then go home.

What on earth went wrong??

What went wrong was that there were too many lazy b*****ds supposedly "working" in the shipyards and not producing the goods.....

Tmac1720
15th January 2006, 20:10
What went wrong was that there were too many lazy b*****ds supposedly "working" in the shipyards and not producing the goods.....
Well said Billy, obviously spoken as a man with years of experience in shipbuilding. The guys in the yards speak well of you too! Can't help wonder though, just who did build all those magnificent vessels? (Applause)

Piero43
16th January 2006, 17:21
I worked for 30 years in the shipbuilding industry, of which almost ten in Riva Trigoso Fincantieri's yard, and also if Unions didn't help, the blame is not all on them.
The shipbuilding industry product is "poor", and the chances of automatization are almost naught, so all the costs are strictly connected with the manpower cost.
Since it isn't possible to reduce the hours needed to built a ship "ad infinitum", a time arrives in which it isn't possible to compete with Far East yards, in which the labour costs infinitely less than in Italy or in UK.
The only way to survive is to specialize the products keeping only the ones with high technological level: in Fincantieri the 90 % of the production is cruise ships or fast ferries, letting alone the naval production.
By the way, in yards there are surely good or bad workmen as everywhere, but I can assure Billy that I didn't meet a single "lazy b*****d" in 30 years.
Piero

william dillon
16th January 2006, 19:29
Well said Billy, obviously spoken as a man with years of experience in shipbuilding. The guys in the yards speak well of you too! Can't help wonder though, just who did build all those magnificent vessels? (Applause)

I had experience of working practices in "John Browns" in Clydebank many years ago, I wonder how they ever managed to build anything far less ships, talk about dead slow & stop, it was unbelieveable................

the yard
17th January 2006, 21:16
Funny you should mention "John Browns". Having worked in Harland and Wolff for almost 30 years the only lazy b*****ds that I experienced were a considerable number of Scottish sub-contactors chasing the money during one of our recent contracts. I like many others are proud of what Harland and Wolff and the British shipbuilding industry in general has achieved. James_c is 100% correct regarding the demise of the British shipbuilding industry - economics took over and that's that! I wonder how long yards like Hyundai, Samsung and Mitsubishi would survive using sub-contract labour at the rates that were demanded by lazy greedy skivers ?

william dillon
17th January 2006, 21:50
Funny you should mention "John Browns". Having worked in Harland and Wolff for almost 30 years the only lazy b*****ds that I experienced were a considerable number of Scottish sub-contactors chasing the money during one of our recent contracts. I like many others are proud of what Harland and Wolff and the British shipbuilding industry in general has achieved. James_c is 100% correct regarding the demise of the British shipbuilding industry - economics took over and that's that! I wonder how long yards like Hyundai, Samsung and Mitsubishi would survive using sub-contract labour at the rates that were demanded by lazy greedy skivers ?

What I am trying to say is that restrictive practices i.e. "I'm a Plater, it's not my job to bore a hole through wood, get a Carpenter" crucified the yards whereas the Japs & Koreans got on with it.
I was once in "John Browns" to install a new fuel pump, the suction entry to the pump unit was 1.5" B.S.P. unfortunately the suction pipework to the tank was 1.5" Copper, a procession of Plumbers & Coppersmiths + their mates & Gaffers came to look at the job (to alter the copper pipe to accept a Steel to Copper adaptor).
The alteration which took about 10 minutes to complete was eventually carried out 5.5 hours later, quite frustrating to say the least.
I'm not implying that all the British shipyards were like this, although they could have been.
I can only assume that all the great ships were completed by a workforce with "one hand tied behind their backs".
I'm not trying to de-cry the workforce, I think the unions have a lot to answer for.

william dillon
17th January 2006, 21:57
What I am trying to say is that restrictive practices i.e. "I'm a Plater, it's not my job to bore a hole through wood, get a Carpenter" crucified the yards whereas the Japs & Koreans got on with it.
I was once in "John Browns" to install a new fuel pump, the suction entry to the pump unit was 1.5" B.S.P. unfortunately the suction pipework to the tank was 1.5" Copper, a procession of Plumbers & Coppersmiths + their mates & Gaffers came to look at the job (to alter the copper pipe to accept a Steel to Copper adaptor).
The alteration which took about 10 minutes to complete was eventually carried out 5.5 hours later, quite frustrating to say the least.
I'm not implying that all the British shipyards were like this, although they could have been.
I can only assume that all the great ships were completed by a workforce with "one hand tied behind their backs".
I'm not trying to de-cry the workforce, I think the unions have a lot to answer for.
P.S. I could have done the alteration myself, not allowed, " that's a Coppersmiths job".

eldersuk
23rd January 2006, 22:22
In the 1960's I was on a ship in Liverpool, the contract engineers had a Doxford top piston hanging on the crane and had to wait the rest of the day to get a plater to lift one floor plate to access the piston stowage. We were not allowed to lift it on pain of the contractors walking off the ship! This is only one example of the restrictive practices imposed by the unions in UK ports at the time.
It's a good job ship's crews did not follow these practices or we would have got nowhere fast.
Derek

KIWI
24th January 2006, 20:48
For about three weeks worked for a ship repair firm in ST Catherines dock London.The demarcation rules were soul destroying.When I removed the drip shield over a generator I was to overhaul one would have thought it was an act of terroism the fuss it caused.It apparently was a plumbers job to remove the six bolts & lift it aside.Nothing like the icy,hostile & scary silence I caused,when at a union meeting my reply to a question"Did you attend Union Meetings in NZ?" was" Only one. To stop the Commos getting control".How was I an ignorant colonial to know that the ETU Secretary was in Moscow as much as the UK.The demise of British shipbuilding though regretable was no surprise. KIWI

Pat McCardle
24th January 2006, 21:17
Just why have most of the yards shut. It's very easy to blame Thatcher et al but there must be a more specific reason. Nationalisation perhaps, unions taking liberties?

It is interesting talking to my father (80 years old) he started out as a rivet catcher then a riverter on the Wear, worked piece(sp?) work and says that he grafted all day for his money.

My brother on the other hand worked in the yards in the 70s/80s and tells tales of nightshift consisting of going to work, messing around for a couple of hours then getting changed to go to the town clubbing. Return to the yard at 3am, sleep for a couple of hours then go home.

What on earth went wrong??

I bet your Dad worked with mine. John McCardle (Thumb)

Pat McCardle
24th January 2006, 21:23
Funny you should mention "John Browns". Having worked in Harland and Wolff for almost 30 years the only lazy b*****ds that I experienced were a considerable number of Scottish sub-contactors chasing the money during one of our recent contracts. I like many others are proud of what Harland and Wolff and the British shipbuilding industry in general has achieved. James_c is 100% correct regarding the demise of the British shipbuilding industry - economics took over and that's that! I wonder how long yards like Hyundai, Samsung and Mitsubishi would survive using sub-contract labour at the rates that were demanded by lazy greedy skivers ?

H&W would have closed in the early 70's had it not been for the millions the Government put into the yard. That yard would have closed well before any on the Wear, Clyde or Tyneside but it was all down to politics (Cloud)

Harry Nicholson
24th January 2006, 23:37
My dad was a ship rivetter like his dad, but he left after the great depression in the 20's, In the 50's he went back, this time as a platers helper in the yards on the Tees. They wouldn't let him do much, "take it easy pop" they told him "make some tea". He was greatly saddened about "what the unions had done to the yards" and stopped voting Labour as a result.

I remember the fuss when composite materials were brought in to the yards and the furore over who was going to drill holes in it.
After the sea I went into TV studios, the behaviour of the ETU was astonishing, the electricians shop steward took his holidays in Moscow, was actually called Karl. They held the studios to ransom, were no better than Chicago gangsters operating a protection racket. I hate saying this but it was Thatcher who sorted them out. But we made the best TV in the world despite those grasping idle sods and no doubt it was the same in the Yards, there were enough people determined to make a good product and who had some dignity and pride.

mcglash
24th January 2006, 23:46
In the 1960's I was on a ship in Liverpool, the contract engineers had a Doxford top piston hanging on the crane and had to wait the rest of the day to get a plater to lift one floor plate to access the piston stowage. We were not allowed to lift it on pain of the contractors walking off the ship! This is only one example of the restrictive practices imposed by the unions in UK ports at the time.
It's a good job ship's crews did not follow these practices or we would have got nowhere fast.
Derek

Yes the demarcation was a problem in Londons KGV we had the shore crowd in to change a liner, on a BW opposed piston 2 stroke. It took them 3 days, as they had to wait for brasss fitters to arrive to remove the lubricators the plumbers to remove the water pipes then riggers to sling it up and get it ashore.We did one the previous trip at sea in 8hrs with the ship wallowing in a fairly heavy sea,and of course you were not allowed to assist the shore crowd, as the ships staff were able only to do work classifed as necessary to the safety of ship.

Mcglash

jim barnes
25th January 2006, 00:35
sounds like the same old "blame the Unions syndrome" listening to you all? it is invariably down to government policies that our industries fail, lack of gov supsodies when realy needed is one. knocking the unions is usually propaganda spurred on by managments and governments, believe it or not when you knock your fellow workers just think of your own salaries or benefits you may recieve do you think you deserve them, you probably do? but how did you get them? I have never heard of any large employer or Government falling over backwards to give the working masses what they may deserve.... Any way Women Religion & Politics should never be discussed on board, as I remenber.
(Welder GMB Union fully payed up member)(Boilermakers Union) :@

mcglash
25th January 2006, 01:07
sounds like the same old "blame the Unions syndrome" listening to you all? it is invariably down to government policies that our industries fail, lack of gov supsodies when realy needed is one. knocking the unions is usually propaganda spurred on by managments and governments, believe it or not when you knock your fellow workers just think of your own salaries or benefits you may recieve do you think you deserve them, you probably do? but how did you get them? I have never heard of any large employer or Government falling over backwards to give the working masses what they may deserve.... Any way Women Religion & Politics should never be discussed on board, as I remenber.
(Welder GMB Union fully payed up member)(Boilermakers Union) :@

I dont think it is union bashing I have been a union member most of my working life the point I am trying to make is that there were too many unions covering the one industry.
Germany for example had about 3or4 unions that covered their many and various Industries.

Mcglash

Harry Nicholson
25th January 2006, 09:54
I was also a union member and followed the members out of the gate from time to time. I believe in the unions having seen what some management can be like.
But I spent 28 years in TV and saw the best and the worst of it. The ETU before it was reformed could stand and support its members doing the following, (and the membership could have the lack of self respect to live with it):
Yorkshire TV sent a film crew to the Egyptian desert to shoot a documentary. There was no night shoot, lights were not needed. The Etu deal was that even so a chargehand electrician + two assistants must accompany the crew even though they were not needed. Those three spent a week in a Cairo hotel while the crew were in the desert. After the shoot the electricians insisted on knowing if the shoot had gone into overtime so they could claim the same.
It was a fact that with overtime and expenses our tv electricians at the time earned more that the director and producer despite being grossly overmanned and having little hard work to do. The car park consisted of their new Volvos and everyone elses odds and ends.
It doesn't do my mental states any good at all when I recall this.
Anyway I'm pleased to say their power was broken and now they are only too happy to have a job and work harder with only the crew that is needed. I'm embarrassed to say that it was Mrs Thatcher who did that, after she'd sorted out Fleet Street she went gunning for the TV industry.

Ron Stringer
25th January 2006, 10:39
In 1967, when working ashore for Marconi Marine in Palmer's shipyard in Hebburn, on Tyneside, one of the jobs that I was given was to replace a transmitter aboard an elderly New Zealand Shipping Co. vessel, "Pipiriki". This was a job that could be done in half a day. On older vessels the openings (doors, portholes etc.) in bulkheads were much smaller than modern vessels and the door of the radio room was only 21 inches wide. This posed a problem because the Marconi "Oceanspan VII" transmitter that I was to fit had a smallest dimension of 24 inches. However the side panels could be unbolted to expose the tubular frame which was a couple of inches smaller. The plan was to remove the dor and its wooden frame and then, by careful manipulation, the transmitter could be manoeuvred through the enlarged opening.

Second problem: the transmitter was to be mounted on a steel cabinet, also supplied by Marconi Marine, which raised the transmitter to bench height. This transmitter was of all-welded construction and had a minimum dimension of 27 inches. Buggered!

Solution: Unscrew the door and its frame, burn away some bulkhead steelwork at one side of the doorway so that the cabinet could be slipped through the enlarged hole. Replace the piece of plate removed earlier and screw back the door and frame. There began the fun.

The yard started work at 7:00 or 7:30 am (after all this time I don't remember), at which time the men would be allocated their jobs for the morning by their foremen. Marconi Marine started at 08:30 but that had to be at our base in South Shields, some miles from the yard. On Day 1, after waiting until 9:00 am, to ensure that no emergency jobs had come up overnight, I was released to go to the yard to begin work. Arriving in the yard before 9:30 am, I sought out the foreman joiner, to get him to arrange for the door and frame to be removed. Ufortunately by this time, all the joiners had been despatched about their allocated jobs. He assured me that he would sort something out after the midday meal break.

I went to see the foreman welder to arrange for the hole to be marked out and burned. His men were also already working on their morning jobs and he wasn't willing to detach anyone "on spec" so asked me to come back when the door was removed. I busied myself in the radio room ensuring that the various cables were correctly positioned and identified and adding additional wiring where needed; NB by special concession of the ETU we were allowed to run electrical cables within the radio room in spite of not being ETU members.

After lunch I sought out the foreman joiner again and he informed me that someone would be along about 3:00 pm to take off the door. I went off to look for the foreman welder and passed on the message. He was not prepared to do anything until the door was off and his men had a clear field in which to work. He again asked me to come back when the door was removed.

I went in search of the foreman electrician to see when his labourers could move the transmitter and the cabinet (from the electrician's store in the yard) up to the radio room. The goods were in the safe keeping of the yard stores and could not be released until they could be delivered into the radio room where they were to be fitted. Come back when the doorway had been enlarged so that they could be left in the radio room.

About 3:15 pm a joiner and his mate arrived and unscrewed the radio room door hinges and placed the door in the radio room. They were starting to remove the frame when I asked if they would be waiting for the welders to finish their work so that the door and frame could be replaced ahead of "knocking off" time. This was because the radio room was full of spare parts and other equipment belonging to the shipowners, who had requested that it be kept secure at all times. I couldn't go home and leave the place unlocked, or most of the contents would have gone by the time I returned at 9:30 am next day. They assured me that this was not possible because they had several other jobs to do that afternoon. So the door had to be replaced and the room secured. There was nothing else that I could do. I again walked around the yard to find the foreman joiner to ask him for advice. I couldn't allow the radio room to be left open overnight, nor could it be opened at 7:30 am and left open until I arrived at 9:30 am. I might get sent off to an ememrgency repair for a ship due to sail, or have to go out to calibrate a ship's DF. Could he allocate a man to be at the radio room for 9.30 to remove the door? Could I guarantee to be there? Since my answer was no, so was his.

Day 2 was a repeat of Day 1, except that I had nothing to do whilst waiting for "trades". At the end of the day, in frustration I asked my boss if I could start in the yard at 7:00 am (after all I had to pass the yard on my way into work at South Shields) and either claim the overtime until 8:30 am or knock off early in compensation. Not possible; how would my employers know I had actually turned up at that time? How would they know that I hadn't left early, taking more time in compensation than Iwas due? What would they do if they needed me at 8:30 for another job? Back to the yard.

Day 3 - the same.

Day 4. After checking in at South Shields I arrived at the yard at 9:15 and found the foreman joiner. He arranged to get a man to me straight after midday. True to his word, a joiner and his mate arrived on time. I rushed off to find the foreman welder and he agreed to send someone to mark up the job "in a few minutes". As the joiners were putting the dismantled door frame into the radio room two guys arrived, listened to my requirements and drew chalk lines on the steel bulkhead where the hole was to be burned.

Snag, there was no one to burn the metal until after smoko. I was getting more anxious by the minute. However after smoko a welder and his mate arrived to burn off the plate. Now I rushed off to get the foreman electrician to arrange for his labourers to move the transmitter and the cabinet up to the radio room. Sorry not possible, everyone was already working on a job. As a favour though, he would make sure that they were moved first thing in the morning. Back to find the foreman welder to tell of the hitch. No problem, come back in the morning to arrange to have the plate welded back on.

Now find the foreman joiner to explain the changed circumstances and plead with him to send his men back to replace the door and its frame so that I could secure the room for the night. He was obviously feeling sorry for me by now and just after 4:00 pm this was done. OK there was a hole about 30 inches by 9 inches running alongside the doorframe, but by this time I was past caring.

Day 5 I arrived on board to find the alleyway outside the radio room blocked by the packages containing the transmitter and the cabinet. The foreman electrician had been as good as his word. Now to find the foreman joiner and the foreman welder to give them the good news. Nothing possible that morning but…. I spent my time removing all the packing and readying the units for fitting.

Straight after lunch the joiners removed the door and (don't tell the electricians) gave me a hand to get the units inside the radio room before going off on another job. I also went off and found the foreman welder and reminded him that I needed his men to replace the missing piece of plate in the bulkhead. Then I went back and started to fit the equipment.

After smoko the welders arrived and closed the hole, leaving the radio room full of acrid fumes and smoke. I asked the foreman joiner if his men could now replace the door and got the usual "they will be along in a few minutes". After finishing fitting the equipment and testing everything on the dummy antennas, I tidied up the radio room, completed all the paperwork and prepared to go home. At a little after 4:00 pm the joiners arrived and replaced the door and its frame. All that was left was to arrange for the painters to repair the damage to the bulkhead.

What had taken me about 3 hours of work had occupied a whole working week. Who was to blame? Was it me because I wasn't prepared to give up a couple of hours of my own time by turning up early for a couple of days? Was it my employers because they were inflexible by not allowing me to start or finish work outside the contracted times? Was it their fault because they did not work the same hours as the shipyards? Was it the shipyard for not having any procedures for arranging work ahead of time, rather than leaving it to be arranged ad hoc each day by the foremen? Was it the unions? If I had been at home, or working on the ship overseas, I would have unscrewed the door and its frame, got a welder to cut out the plate and wait a few minutes while I put the equipment in the room before he welded up the hole. I would have replaced the doorframe and door. This would have taken less than a day.

On the Saturday night I was in the pub having a drink with the foreman electrician and was bemoaning the state of affairs that led to my "wasted week". "You should think yourself lucky," he said, "if it had been a ship with lined bulkheads, or if the door had been in an external bulkhead, you would have had to involve carpenters and shipwrights as well."

billyboy
25th January 2006, 10:48
ha ha. nice story Ron. had similar at Husbands shipyard once. took a boilermaker to drill holes in the metal, carpenter to drill holes in the wood paneling and two fitters to attach the skippers new clock to the forard bulkheadin the officers mess.

eldersuk
25th January 2006, 13:01
There used to be a story in Cammell Lairds that to cut a bulkhead and fit a port hole took seven trades. All of course with a labourer.

william dillon
25th January 2006, 19:47
I think all the previous stories regarding shipyards strengthens my original comments. (Night)

jim barnes
25th January 2006, 20:38
I dont think it is union bashing I have been a union member most of my working life the point I am trying to make is that there were too many unions covering the one industry.
Germany for example had about 3or4 unions that covered their many and various Industries.

Mcglash and why are there so few unions in Germany "did'nt Adolph Hitler have a great deal to do with that? ??

mcglash
26th January 2006, 01:49
and why are there so few unions in Germany "did'nt Adolph Hitler have a great deal to do with that? ??


You may be right Jim but the Communists had a very strong influence on your Union!!

Hugh Wilson
26th January 2006, 08:26
I've been working in Far East shipyards for around 5 years now, Japan, Korea and China. The only place where labour is cheap these days is China, but having said that, the quality of the finished product is very poor and you get exactly what you pay for. Firstly, the big advantage in the Japanese and Korean yards is that the workforce is flexible and it doesn't matter whether you're a welder, pipefitter or whatever, the job still gets done. No-one stands around doing nothing. Secondly, the whole process of building ships has been transformed and ships are built in block sections, rather like big jigsaw puzzles and then welded together. Each block is oufitted with all the pipework, cable trays and machinery whilst its still in the block stage and amazingly, it all fits properly when the time comes to assemble the blocks. Even the holes in pipe flanges match up correctly. The automation has to be seen to be believed. Thirdly, the ships are delivered on time. I'm in the Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering yard in Okpo, Korea on the supervision team for a 7 VLCC newbuilding project which started on Nov 19th 2005 and which will last until Dec 2008. We have exact delivery dates for all 7 ships and the ships WILL be delivered on time. Charters have already been arranged for the first two. This yard is building 8 ships simultaneously and expects to delivery 54 ships during 2006. The order book is full for the next 3 years. Doosan, who build the engines for our ships, under license from Sulzer, expect to produce 130 engines in 2006 and have already delivered 6 in January. Mitsubishi, who make the boilers expect to produce 400 boilers this year, with average production being 350 units per anum.

We had the opportunity in the UK in the 40s, 50s and 60s, but threw it away.

HW

dsftm
26th January 2006, 14:30
I bet your Dad worked with mine. John McCardle (Thumb)

Pat
Just spoken to him. His answer - "I know the name" (*))

He is John (Johnny) Smith. His brothers are Jimmy, Ronny and Tony...All characters from the Sunderland yards and all (thankfully) still with us.
Cheers
Dave

R58484956
26th January 2006, 15:23
Just had a programme on british tv about the Hyundai shipyard in Korea, it is absolutely amazing the automation that goes on and as stated above the blocks fit together perfectly and ships delivered on time, virtually to the nearest hour.

Pat McCardle
26th January 2006, 18:02
Pat
Just spoken to him. His answer - "I know the name" (*))

He is John (Johnny) Smith. His brothers are Jimmy, Ronny and Tony...All characters from the Sunderland yards and all (thankfully) still with us.
Cheers
Dave

Dave
Dad passed on to the 'Big shipbuilder above the cranes' 2 years ago. He ended his days as a 'Tacker' welder at Picky's, well known for his well turned out appearance & his singing on St.Pats day (EEK) . Worked in Canada for 10 years too. Any of the above known as 'Chippy'? (Thumb)

fred henderson
27th January 2006, 16:50
None of the shipbuilding members have come forward with a full reply, probably because it requires a book. I will try to confine my response to a length that is suitable to the site and try to avoid boring the members.

Shipbuilding provides a classic example of the boom and bust economics problems facing the manufacturers of major capital equipment. In a stable situation a ship owner may have 20 ships and replace one per year providing a steady workload to the shipyard. If available cargoes fall by 5%, the ship owner still scraps his oldest ship but balances his business by not ordering a replacement. The ship owners business has fallen by 5% but the shipyard’s business has dropped by 100%. The reverse is true if trade increases.

The only way a shipyard can survive is by charging high prices in the boom years to establish reserves to carry it through the next order famine. In the past the yard would retain a small core team and hire and fire the rest of the workforce. Of course European labour laws prevent this policy from operating today, so when there is a shortage of work the yards generally go out of business for ever.

The British disaster was that the major shipbuilders did not exploit the huge demand for ships after WW2. Instead they allocated places in the building programme to the aristocratic British ship owners at a price based on cost plus 5%. They could have made 50% profit in the early years. This would have brought overseas yards into the industry and ship prices would have fallen, but the overseas yards were built anyway because of the size of the demand for ships was greater than the surviving yards could meet. The new overseas yards initially charged far more than the British shipyards, but they were the only available source for many owners. As a result the new yards were able to recover their capital cost before the boom ran out.

At the time of course, Britain was in the grip of the socialist Nationalisation nightmare and the shipyards were on the list for future action. If they had made massive profits there was a strong likelihood that they would have moved to the front of the list. It was a missed golden opportunity for the yards to provide strong reserves and the funds needed to modernise the industry.

The cost plus contracts also had an inevitable adverse effect upon the efficiency of the shipyards. The sole management imperative was to get ships finished to earn the 5% profit. If too many workers were employed, at too high a cost, it added to the total profit. Yet well into the 1950s British Shipyards were still providing low cost ships. When I first joined Hawthorn Leslie there was much muttering in the management about a terrible BP order to build the British Talent, which had been launched in 1951 and built under a fixed price contract. “Thank goodness we do not have any of these fixed price contracts today, everything is cost plus 5%” was the cry. As I progressed up the management ladder I had access to the historic records. Hawthorn Leslie made almost 17.5% profit on British Talent!

All new investment was geared to increasing output, regardless of cost. This, plus the ever increasing labour rates and overmanning costs eventually pushed British prices above overseas prices. The aristocratic British ship owners immediately demanded that British yards provide ships at fixed prices that were competitive with the foreign yards; otherwise they moved their new orders overseas. By this time the British yards needed huge capital investment and a complete revolution in labour attitudes to compete. Neither was forthcoming.

By the 1970s the British yards began to invest in new facilities in an attempt to reduce the man-hours needed to build ships. The new techniques and semi-automated systems had the greatest impact on the man-hours needed to build ships with a very rectangular central hull form. Tankers and bulk carriers were ideal. Unfortunately in the 1970s, OPEC price rises destroyed the tanker freight market, and the subsequent world slump removed the need for bulk carriers. The economic crisis was accompanied by raging inflation, which played havoc with the finances of shipbuilders working on fixed price contracts.

When the world economy eventually stabilised, shipping rates did not improve. The major Far Eastern nations (Japan, Korea and increasingly China) are dependant upon the importation of oil and bulk raw materials, plus the exportation of manufactured products. For these countries low freight rates are a long term necessity. So these countries have established massive shipbuilding capacity to turn out large numbers of tankers, bulk carriers and container ships. They have created huge ship owning organisations and offered very cheap ships to any foreign owner who was reckless enough to help their plans.

Although the 1970s economic outlook was grim for shipbuilders everywhere, the British yards were hit by another blow that was to prove fatal. This was the disastrous Nationalisation of the industry.

I think that there could be little doubt that there was a need to rationalise and consolidate the British shipbuilding industry. There was the possibility of establishing a single, world class shipyard concentrating on passenger ships – big new ferries and the new requirement for cruise ships. Wärtsilä followed this route and although there have been some financial crises along the way the yards are still in business. Chantiers de l’Atlantique and Fincantieri remained in the passenger ship business and are still going strong. Meyer Werft built a brand new shipyard in the 1980s for this sector. In my view there was also work for one submarine yard, one naval shipyard for major surface warships and another for minor warships, exports and auxiliaries. A yard building small merchant ships could also survive. All the rest of the yards needed to close and the best talent in the industry plus a very substantial capital investment programme needed to be concentrated in the selected core yards.

Both the aircraft and shipbuilding industries were nationalised by the same act of Parliament. The aircraft industry became British Aerospace, consolidated and rationalised its operations and prospered. British Shipbuilders went in the opposite direction, into oblivion.

It was decided that the shipbuilding company names had considerable value and that all of the companies should remain in existence as subsidiaries of BS. Did they really think that the names like Upper Clyde Shipbuilders were more precious than Avro or Hawker?

BS had a handful of shipbuilders in the top management positions, but they were outnumbered by ex - civil servants and ex - trade unionists, many of whom seemed determined to become semi-professional playboys at the Corporation’s expense. The policies introduced by the newcomers were suicidal. The following 10 examples are only a sample of the dreadful situation in BS: -

1. All the yards were to remain in existence.
2. The primary policy was to maximise employment levels.
3. The status of the yard and the salaries and benefits of the management were entirely based on employment numbers.
4. BS regarded itself as a cash spending government institution. There was no interest in rewarding profitable yards. In fact the monthly reporting forms only had a bottom line for actual loss compared against budgeted loss. A profit had to be shown as a “negative loss”.
5. The cash reserves of the viable yards were removed on day one and used to pay the debts of the lame ducks.
6. Capital expenditure was severely curtailed, except for new welfare facilities for the workforce. Priority was given to replacing equipment that was beyond repair, but needed to preserve employment. The small funds that were left to invest in new concepts and facilities were largely awarded in penny packets to the biggest loss makers, in the vain hope that it may improve their performance.
7. The merchant shipyards were asked to concentrate on simple cargo ships, bulk carriers and tankers. The aim being to produce ships that had a high ratio of labour to material cost. It did not seem to occur to the policy makers that this was the sector where the modern, low labour cost Far Eastern yards were already dominant.
8. The warship yards were forbidden by the MoD to co-operate with each other as this may have reduced competition for Mod work. The MoD had no problems with a single-source supplier of aircraft or submarines, but could not accept co-operation to supply surface ships.
9. Competing and overlapping ranges of standard tanker and cargo ship designs were developed by the merchant ship yards, but it was very difficult to obtain funds to develop export warship designs and there was no activity on new passenger ship designs.
10. The wage rates of the few profitable yards were frozen so that the wages in the big loss-makers could catch up. This was a disaster for morale in the good yards.

The nationalisation of the industry had been bitterly contested in Parliament. I remember attending one of the debates in the Commons and being utterly appalled my the complete twaddle being uttered by MPs from both major parties, but by far the worst was a Union sponsored, Sunderland Labour MP who was obviously living in world of pure fantasy.

Some of the near-bankrupt merchant shipyards were desperately hanging on by their finger nails, praying for the conclusion of the nationalisation process. Others (mainly the warship yards) were fiercely opposed to the process. As a consequence, when the Act was finally passed in 1977, the shipbuilding supporters of nationalisation tended to get an undue proportion of the prime jobs in BS, regardless of ability. There was very little settling of old scores, but I felt that the atmosphere was not good. Some of the best talent began to drift away and internal politics soon displaced any attempts to establish a sound and viable industry.

I think the most astonishing statistic of the period is that for warship exports. From the end of WW2 up to the nationalisation of the industry, Britain obtained 55%, by tonnage of all world export orders for new major surface warships (frigates and larger). During the entire period of nationalisation, not a single major warship export order was signed. Since privatisation, British yards have with much effort, managed to regain only 5% of this market. British shipyards have been replaced by Germany, France and the USA. None of these are low cost producers.

Now there is a mere handful of surviving yards and it is likely to shrink further after the completion of the new aircraft carrier programme. No shipyard can carry the cost of maintaining the workforce on an empty order book and gaps in building programmes are inevitable. Nor can many of the yards afford both the cost of major redundancies and the cost of subsequently rebuilding capability.

In my view, the industry was initially wounded by the immediate post-war management settling for an easy second best, by introducing cost plus contracts, rather than adopting a ruthless commercial approach to a unique opportunity. As a result there was no financial requirement to resist Trade Union excesses and surplus funds were not generated to provide modern facilities and adequate financial reserves. When economic reality eventually intruded, the British industry tried to catch up with its rivals, but it was too late. The overseas industries did not stop to allow Britain to catch up. They continued to advance. Only a massive rationalisation and investment programme may have saved the industry. Instead of this, we had Nationalisation, which blocked rationalisation and cut off investment, to follow a short-term programme of jobs for the brothers.

Taxpayers’ money was used to buy jobs for thousands of trade union members in an unviable business. The members’ fees maintained the union leaders in a comfortable lifestyle. Union funds were used to finance the Labour Party and to sponsor Labour MPs. The Labour Government then spent more taxpayers’ money to continue the cosy arrangement. No real effort was made to make the business viable, because that could only be achieved by a major reduction in the workforce, which would reduce the income of the unions and endangered the payments to the politicians. It was entirely legal, but it seemed to me to be very close to corruption.


Fred :@

Pat McCardle
27th January 2006, 21:14
Look at present day ships, the majority are reaching 20years old, quite a lot even older ,especially in the offshore standby ship mode which are converted old ships that would have met the burners torch years ago. The shipbuilding boom has started but, unfortunately, Britain will never again get a look in as wage demnds will be in the 'Hollywood' bracket. (EEK)

Frank P
27th January 2006, 21:20
Fred, I agree with most of what you have said, but what about some of the people in management positions who got their jobs via family conections and only just got by with a minimum amount of knowledge about the job, they must of cost the companies plenty. Nepotism in British industry cost this country dear, jobs for the boys did not only operate on the shop floor.

Frank

fred henderson
27th January 2006, 22:40
Fred, I agree with most of what you have said, but what about some of the people in management positions who got their jobs via family conections and only just got by with a minimum amount of knowledge about the job, they must of cost the companies plenty. Nepotism in British industry cost this country dear, jobs for the boys did not only operate on the shop floor.

Frank

An interesting point Frank. I can only speak for the yards I worked in, but after careful thought, I can only think of 5 men prior to Nationalisation, who fit your description. They had all been shunted into non-jobs, where they could do no damage to the operation of the company. Their annual salary bill could be counted in a few thousand. The annual wage bill of overmanning ran to millions.
After Nationalisation there was a considerable influx of Government appointed free-loaders into management, with zero knowledge of the job, who created a considerable amount of havoc.

Fred

R651400
28th January 2006, 14:54
Fred, firstly thanks for taking the time to explain your reasons above.There are few points one can disagree, without a similar background experience.
You only touch on postwar, but surely shipyard owners and their practices during turn of the century and later boom years should also share the blame, principally in the area of re-investment.
We all know the disastrous outcome of nationalisation but trade unionism is another thing.
How many ex Clydebank employees can forget the 12 apostles? Not only the dozen heavy machine tools used by John Brown, but the company gaffers who ruled with an iron fist and handpicked their workforce from hundreds of men screaming out for work, like some latter-day slave market?
Perhaps I'm shooting myself in the foot here but I also think the British psyche has a lot to do with our demise. This ludicrous idea we are better at everything than any other beggar worldwide!
I find it hard to believe I live in a country only 13 miles away that sustains three major car industries, a shipbuilding industry and owns the entire UK cement manufacturing industry, to name but three, and we have beggar all.
Malcolm

muldonaich
28th January 2006, 21:40
think you will find hyundai was started with a glasgow shipyard owners money maybe he still owns it

fred henderson
28th January 2006, 22:31
think you will find hyundai was started with a glasgow shipyard owners money maybe he still owns it

I think that is highly unlikely. The major shipyards were owned by a wide range of shareholders, not by individuals. Hyundai is a diversified manufacturing group, where shipbuilding is just part of its activities. I believe that Hyundai has always been entirely Korean owned. As a clincher, no Glasgow shipyard had that much savy!

A group of bright lads from the North East of England did however set up a moonlighting enterprise that became A & P Appledore. They provided the initial know-how that started the Korean shipbuilding industry.

Fred

R651400
29th January 2006, 01:43
They provided the initial know-how that started the Korean shipbuilding industry.

As did ex British Leyland, George Turnbull with the Hyundai Pony.
He shipped a Morris Marina to Hyundai to show the Koreans how not to make cars!

muldonaich
29th January 2006, 10:06
I think that is highly unlikely. The major shipyards were owned by a wide range of shareholders, not by individuals. Hyundai is a diversified manufacturing group, where shipbuilding is just part of its activities. I believe that Hyundai has always been entirely Korean owned. As a clincher, no Glasgow shipyard had that much savy!

A group of bright lads from the North East of England did however set up a moonlighting enterprise that became A & P Appledore. They provided the initial know-how that started the Korean shipbuilding industry.

Fred
when i stood by cast husky in ulsan there were a lot of men from lithgows of port glasgow there they told me that sir james had sunk a load of money into the yard there they all held top jobs there so i had no reason not to believe them they seemed to be running the show even the ulsan hotel where we were staying regards kevin.

fred henderson
29th January 2006, 12:12
when i stood by cast husky in ulsan there were a lot of men from lithgows of port glasgow there they told me that sir james had sunk a load of money into the yard there they all held top jobs there so i had no reason not to believe them they seemed to be running the show even the ulsan hotel where we were staying regards kevin.

Do you remember the date Kevin? The Hyundai corporate website states that they were founded on 8 December 1976 and became a general trading company in February 1978. They claim to be the largest trading company in Korea.
The nationalisation of the British yards took place in 1977. It was always thought that the survival of Scott Lithgow in the final days before nationalisation was a close run thing.
Swan Hunter managed the old naval dockyards in Malta, Singapore (Kepple and Sembawang) South Africa and Trinidad. They also tried, but failed to win a shipyard management contract in Taiwan. It is very likely that Lithgow's had a management contract from Hyundai.
Regards
Fred

jim barnes
29th January 2006, 12:38
WHO EVER IS TO BLAME,no one wishes to be blamed thats for sure! but in a ideal world old scores could be forgotten and brains and brawn could be brought together in cooperation and a shipbuilding industry be reclaimed to this island that is still dependant on shipping, Oh for a ideal world and a bit of patriosme (Hippy)

muldonaich
29th January 2006, 17:27
Do you remember the date Kevin? The Hyundai corporate website states that they were founded on 8 December 1976 and became a general trading company in February 1978. They claim to be the largest trading company in Korea.
The nationalisation of the British yards took place in 1977. It was always thought that the survival of Scott Lithgow in the final days before nationalisation was a close run thing.
Swan Hunter managed the old naval dockyards in Malta, Singapore (Kepple and Sembawang) South Africa and Trinidad. They also tried, but failed to win a shipyard management contract in Taiwan. It is very likely that Lithgow's had a management contract from Hyundai.
Regards
Fred
i think it was 79 or 80 they had all been there for a long time wives family etc regards kevin.

lagerstedt
11th February 2006, 04:38
I have a little book called "Coastal Ships" By D. Ridley Chesterton (1966). The book 154 lists British and Irish shipping companies with ships over 200 tons gross. The expection is some sand and up river ships. There is also a foreign or European section.

From time to time I look through this and other books I have and after reading the notes you all have here I had a look at the section on Bristish Coastal and Short Sea Traders. There are many companies list so I chose the port of London and found that in 1966 or there abouts there were 27 shipping companies listed with London as there port of registation and those 27 companies had between them 407 ships.

In the European section I looked up Holland and chose Rotterdam as the port of registration and found 17 companies listed and those companies had between them 347 ships. The Dutch ships were in a lot of cases less than 200 tons gross.

Between the two ports of registration that is 954 ships and 954 Captains, C/E's, C/O's, Cooks, B'sons plus spares. I have not included Deck, E/R or Catering ratings which would add to that figure.

The question for me today is how many of the 154 listed British/Irish companies listed are left and where have all crews gone?

Regards

Blair Lagerstedt
NZ

John Beaton
11th February 2006, 10:54
Just why have most of the yards shut. It's very easy to blame Thatcher et al but there must be a more specific reason. Nationalisation perhaps, unions taking liberties?

It is interesting talking to my father (80 years old) he started out as a rivet catcher then a riverter on the Wear, worked piece(sp?) work and says that he grafted all day for his money.

My brother on the other hand worked in the yards in the 70s/80s and tells tales of nightshift consisting of going to work, messing around for a couple of hours then getting changed to go to the town clubbing. Return to the yard at 3am, sleep for a couple of hours then go home.

What on earth went wrong??
A classic question whose roots go back to the disillusionment of the great depression of the 1930s. All British industries were assailed by the same malaise after the war - disillusionment, psychological exhaustion, rampant Union Power and very weak management. I saw all this at first hand during my time at sea in the fifties, when ship schedules were destroyed by strikes and work to rule in every port in the UK. The work ethic no longer existed in the "working class", and the sentiment was transferred to the crews also. In my own case as a mate in several trades I resolved to leave the sea immediately I got my Master's Ticket, and this I did to do other things with my life.
John Beaton

Sailor
11th February 2006, 15:21
Well Folks, I'm not as well up in these topics as are you good men, but british shipyards to my mind were all or mostly on the rivers, Clyde, Tyne, Barrow and were all limited in what they could build, The Queen Mary was the biggest Browns could have built, and now the Order books are loaded but it's mostly stuff the British yards are out of now, they haven't moved on. I Mean South Korea had nothing at all and started with a big sandy beach, What Britain needs is to use her NATURAL harbours and areas that have space for floating docks Etc. They launch their ships out of floating docks, Britain surely has got still great brains and knowhow to do these things. Falmouth has one of the biggest natural harbours if only somebody could get moving. Italy, Norway, Japan, Sth Korea and even France and Germany are still building great ships, why not the UK. I know I'm no match in voicing these things amongst all you folks, but it's murder to see all the work in anyplace but UK. ((( I don't want you all to have a go at me, I'm just an old Galley Boy, though I did work in Fairfields )))

muldonaich
11th February 2006, 17:43
Well Folks, I'm not as well up in these topics as are you good men, but british shipyards to my mind were all or mostly on the rivers, Clyde, Tyne, Barrow and were all limited in what they could build, The Queen Mary was the biggest Browns could have built, and now the Order books are loaded but it's mostly stuff the British yards are out of now, they haven't moved on. I Mean South Korea had nothing at all and started with a big sandy beach, What Britain needs is to use her NATURAL harbours and areas that have space for floating docks Etc. They launch their ships out of floating docks, Britain surely has got still great brains and knowhow to do these things. Falmouth has one of the biggest natural harbours if only somebody could get moving. Italy, Norway, Japan, Sth Korea and even France and Germany are still building great ships, why not the UK. I know I'm no match in voicing these things amongst all you folks, but it's murder to see all the work in anyplace but UK. ((( I don't want you all to have a go at me, I'm just an old Galley Boy, though I did work in Fairfields )))
the problem was not the workers it was the same at sea the day the shipowener had to pay us a decent wage they got rid of us from master to galley boy and anybody that thinks different needs their heads examend

lagerstedt
12th February 2006, 06:05
I have a little book called "Coastal Shipping" which deals with British and Irish Coastal and Short Sea traders and well as short sea traders from Europe. The book was published in 1966 and deals with shipping greater than 200 tons gross.

In 1966 it listed 154 Coastal and short trading companies in the British and Irish section. I did not count all the European section companies. I did however count 27 companies that had there port of registration as London and 17 European companies (all dutch) that had there port of registration listed as Rotterdam.

London had 27 companies and 407 ships with London registration.
Rotterdam had 17 companies on 347 ships with Rotterdam registration.

Thats 44 companies with 954 ships, Captains, C/O's, C/E's, B'suns plus who knows many Deck, Engine Room and Galley staff plus spares.
How many are there today?

Regards

Blair Lagerstedt
NZ.

muldonaich
12th February 2006, 07:44
I have a little book called "Coastal Shipping" which deals with British and Irish Coastal and Short Sea traders and well as short sea traders from Europe. The book was published in 1966 and deals with shipping greater than 200 tons gross.

In 1966 it listed 154 Coastal and short trading companies in the British and Irish section. I did not count all the European section companies. I did however count 27 companies that had there port of registration as London and 17 European companies (all dutch) that had there port of registration listed as Rotterdam.

London had 27 companies and 407 ships with London registration.
Rotterdam had 17 companies on 347 ships with Rotterdam registration.

Thats 44 companies with 954 ships, Captains, C/O's, C/E's, B'suns plus who knows many Deck, Engine Room and Galley staff plus spares.
How many are there today?

Regards

Blair Lagerstedt
NZ.
like i said when they had to pay us a decent wage they got rid of us these people only invest in cheap labour ive never met a poor shipowner yet has anyone on the site????

cboots
13th February 2006, 00:02
In reading the union and workers bashing rants in some of the above posts one question springs to mind; "Don't other countries have trade unions?" And as for blaming it all on nationalisation I would point out that the major decline in the industry had set in well before nationalisation took place and that a major purpose of the nationalisation of the industry was the attempt to rationalise it. As to all these strikes that were happening all over the place, strangely I don't seem to recollect them myself. I only recall one national docks strike and that was in, I think 1972, that one apart I cannot recall any ship I was on being delayed by any dock labour dispute in a UK port and I cover the period 1965 to 1979. Some one referred to "rampant union power." What power rampant or otherwise unions possess is extremely limited and is always directly subject to what the members will go along with. Given the natural conservatism of the British workforce with an extremely non-revolutionary philosophy, I would suggest that the real power lies, where it always has, with those who possess money, property and the influence that goes with it. Yes there was demarcation in British shipyards and I saw it myself and pretty silly most it was too. But it existed because the industry had an industrial relations record that stank to the high heavens. It existed because people were in fear for their jobs and this was an understandable albeit crude attempt to protect them. Believe it or not the British worker is not genetically different from those of Europe, the Far East, or anywhere else. Nor are they wedded to some demonic industrially destructive outlook on life, but like workers everywhere they will respond to the circumstances in which they find themselves in the manner in which they believe their best interests to be served.
CBoots

muldonaich
13th February 2006, 07:25
In reading the union and workers bashing rants in some of the above posts one question springs to mind; "Don't other countries have trade unions?" And as for blaming it all on nationalisation I would point out that the major decline in the industry had set in well before nationalisation took place and that a major purpose of the nationalisation of the industry was the attempt to rationalise it. As to all these strikes that were happening all over the place, strangely I don't seem to recollect them myself. I only recall one national docks strike and that was in, I think 1972, that one apart I cannot recall any ship I was on being delayed by any dock labour dispute in a UK port and I cover the period 1965 to 1979. Some one referred to "rampant union power." What power rampant or otherwise unions possess is extremely limited and is always directly subject to what the members will go along with. Given the natural conservatism of the British workforce with an extremely non-revolutionary philosophy, I would suggest that the real power lies, where it always has, with those who possess money, property and the influence that goes with it. Yes there was demarcation in British shipyards and I saw it myself and pretty silly most it was too. But it existed because the industry had an industrial relations record that stank to the high heavens. It existed because people were in fear for their jobs and this was an understandable albeit crude attempt to protect them. Believe it or not the British worker is not genetically different from those of Europe, the Far East, or anywhere else. Nor are they wedded to some demonic industrially destructive outlook on life, but like workers everywhere they will respond to the circumstances in which they find themselves in the manner in which they believe their best interests to be served.
CBoots
cboots icould not agree with you more you put it in a nutshell thanks kevin.

Ron Stringer
13th February 2006, 08:38
Yes there was demarcation in British shipyards and I saw it myself and pretty silly most it was too. But it existed because the industry had an industrial relations record that stank to the high heavens. It existed because people were in fear for their jobs and this was an understandable albeit crude attempt to protect them. Believe it or not the British worker is not genetically different from those of Europe, the Far East, or anywhere else. Nor are they wedded to some demonic industrially destructive outlook on life, but like workers everywhere they will respond to the circumstances in which they find themselves in the manner in which they believe their best interests to be served.
CBoots
Fully agree with that CBoots. Whilst fitting out the radio room of the 'Sir Percivale' at Hawthorne Leslie's in '67, I learned that one afternoon she was to be moved downriver to clear space for a launch from another shipyard on the opposite side of the Tyne. Sensible enough arrangement, a knock-for-knock deal between shipyards on opposite sides of the river to ease the problem of launching stern-first into a narrow waterway. Seemed very reasonable except that I was amazed to be told that the H-L hourly-paid workers aboard wouldn't be paid for the afternoon, as they weren't able to work (the ship was being taken away!). With that degree of disregard for their workers, it isn't surprising that co-operation was somewhat strained. No problem for me, Marconi's were paying my wages, not the shipyard but for those affected the loss of half a day's pay, despite having turned up for work in the morning, was not at all amusing.

I suppose the sting lies in your last sentence "the manner in which they believe their best interests to be served". In the long run, increased job flexibility might have extended their employment for a few years, so the short-term demarcation approach was probably not the best solution. However without the state backing and the investment levels that the Far East enjoyed, there was no way that the British shipyards could have competed. The final nail in the coffin was when the most competitive yards on the Wear were sold down the line as Mrs Thatcher did a deal with Germany to support her subsidies to British Steel - on condition that she allowed the yards to close. Everything has its time and, in Britain, shipbuilding has gone the way of lace-making and steam locomotives. British Steel went the same way not too many years later.

Ron

vchiu
29th April 2006, 07:09
I agree with Hugh that Shipbuilding in Korea and Japan don't benefit from cheap workforce, in contrary to China, but from strong organisation

I think the many factors mentioned in the demise of British shipbuilding were well covered.
My opinion is that Politicians, Industry captains, shareholders and even simple workers all considered British shipbuilding as granted.

it mean many acted as if they did not see the danger coming and just managed one's own short term interests.

Because Asian shipbuilding has very little legacy, they could start from scratch and did not have to struggle with outdated/unhealthy practices.

French yards managed somehow to survive through their own specialisation and with the help of foreign outsourcing (Poland / India). There is no way shipbuilding can't be global.

In this respect, I have the feeling the demise of British car industry share quite the same roots.

dom
29th April 2006, 07:38
prehaps the rot set in after the war we must rebuild europe and japan update all their yards and factores,what did we have utility furniture and snook