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Ground launch - big deal

The article was "First ship built using "on-ground build" method." The details appear to be that Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) has invented a new way of building ships by building them on a flat patch of ground, then sliding them to a barge and floating them out. Big deal. Been done (as Lou Chirillo pointed out, Brunel's Great Eastern was launched this way, albeit unintentionally). GD-BIW and NG-Ingalls do essentially the same thing.

What is more significant is that HHI's order book is so full they don't have the traditional facilities to handle the throughput. Moreover, China is getting ready to eat Korea's shipbuilding lunch (see "World shipbuilding production"). Patenting building on land may be a pre-emptive strike to slow the competition through legal means. This is interesting since Korea and China have a terrible record on protecting intellectual property and routinely violate intellectual property rights.

In the meantime, Kvaerner has figured out how to access the protected US market (that Jones Act thing) and get paid to do it (see "Kvaerner Philadelphia Shipyard remains afloat"). I'm surprised the Japanese didn't figure that one out and open a couple of yards. They did it in the auto industry and heaven knows there are a few US facilities available.

How about Massachusetts Heavy Industries (MHI)? I'm sure MARAD might give Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (the other MHI) a pretty good price and terms. Or how about GD selling NASSCO to IHI? Let's make it a two-fer and a Japanese builder could buy both? Who knows? Maybe the Koreans would be interested? HHI could buy MHI (the Massachusetts one), GD-NASSCO, and NG-Avondale?

Posted at 15:12:42 on 01/13/05 by Tom Swift

Comments

Chas wrote:

About the Great Eastern, I would not say that it was launched "unintentionally." "Expensively" and with "difficulty" would be more appropriate. If ever there was a breech birth in shipbuilding that was it.

Henry Ford’s construction of warships at his River Rouge plant during 1918-1919 (http://history.acusd.edu/ge...) also employed an on-ground build method. The 200-foot long ships were launched via an elevator in a manner similar to launchings via today’s Syncrolifts.

Regarding subsidy of shipyards by various national governments, it is interesting to note how some of them responded to the message that was delivered by both the Arab Oil Shock in 1973 and the relentless progress of the shipbuilding industry in China that was already manifest when I was there in 1981. Regarding the latter occasion, I observed that the prospects for a shipbuilding industry in China were similar to what existed in Japan during the latter 1940s. The Chinese Government, as did the Japanese Government before, targeted labor-intensive shipbuilding as an important industry for improving its economy.

Only the Swedish Government had the foresight and the political power to rather quickly support the construction of nearby auto plants and cause the shipyards like Gotaverken and Kockems to cease the construction of large commercial vessels even though they had modern facilities.

In Japan the Government caused a gradual and continuing downsizing of the industry. As a consequence, the remaining Japanese shipyards accelerated productivity improvements.

Elsewhere, regarding commercial-ship construction, as in the United States local politics prevails, so we cannot expect rational business decisions.
posted at 17:30:10 on 01/16/05

Bull Morell wrote:

Another example of “on-ground build” is the recent construction of a 577-foot LOA, 13,000-deadweight ton, Pure Car Truck Carrier by VT Halter Marine. The ship was pulled onto a dry dock.
posted at 15:53:45 on 01/23/05

TomSwift wrote:

Guess the Australians have figured out how to get in on the Jone's Act market: http://pacific.bizjournals....
As I recall, the US Army really liked the Australian fast ferry they leased for testing. Looks like we could have a US Navy ship built by an Australian company.
posted at 15:59:47 on 01/27/05

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