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Shipbuilding innovation: Enabling technologies and economic imperatives

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Paul Stott


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© 2018 Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers. All rights reserved. Commercial shipbuilding in the 21st century is dominated by large suppliers, constructing series’ of ships in highly efficient shipyards. The industry would be unrecognizable to shipbuilders from a century ago and this raises the question as to when the modern form developed. Much development has been incremental but there have also been seminal triggers, both technical and economic, that have led to major shifts in the nature of the industry. This paper traces these shifts from the building of SS Great Britain to the current day. The modern industry saw its beginnings in the United States in World War II (WWII), follows a build strategy that was developed in Japan (under U.S. guidance) and a pattern of shipyard design that originated in Europe in the early 1960s. The most significant influences have included developments in iron and steel manufacturing processes, the expansion of the British Empire in the second half of the 19th century, the Liberty Ship program in WWII, Japan’s “great reverse” post-WWII, and the “Bretton Woods” conference that initiated the process of globalization in the second half of the 20th century. The greatest steps forward have arisen out of economic imperatives and been assisted by influence from other industry sectors. The most important influences were those from government contractors in the introduction of welding into shipbuilding in WWII and in the influence of the aircraft manufacturing industry in Japanese shipbuilding post-WWII. The greatest barriers to innovation have arisen from conservatism.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Stott PW

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Ship Production and Design

Year: 2018

Volume: 34

Issue: 2

Pages: 144-154

Print publication date: 01/05/2018

Acceptance date: 20/03/2017

Date deposited: 24/03/2017

ISSN (print): 2158-2866

ISSN (electronic): 2158-2874

Publisher: Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers


DOI: 10.5957/JSPD.160040


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