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RFA Support Vessels

Fedaykin

Swinger
Not a problem if you are competitive and there is a global shipbuilding demand. Very different if you are not as competitive, have zero recent track record and there is a shipbuilding slump. The vast majority of those build tonnages (certainly in Germany, Italy and to a degree France) are cruise ships whose owners currently have two priorities :

1. Get out of the business.
2. Get out of the business.

Registering just to add my two penneth about the matter of Cruise ships the reason why Germany, Italy and France have an established Cruise Ship building industry is due to the integrated supply chain they have built up locally and across the EU. Cruise ship construction is semi complex and they have a network of skilled suppliers to perform specialized work - from HVAC to galley fixtures to luxury interiors. That network is well established in Germany, Italy and France, but yards that have attempted to replicate it elsewhere have often encountered challenges. Most recently Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan tried but lost $2.3 billion on two vessels and promptly gave up on the idea.

To establish the necessary supply chain in the UK to start a Cruise Ship building industry especially with our mess of unsuitable small yards in inconvenient locations exacerbated by leaving the EU Single Market makes it a forlorn concept.

The UK missed the boat when it came to Cruise ships, ironically H&W with its 1970's modernised yard intended to cash in on building Suezmax tankers might have had a chance during the 1980's Cruise ship boom but who would setup the required supply chain in Northern Ireland when there were terrorist bombs going off in the streets and within the Shipyard? What Cruise line would take the risk ordering a vessel under those circumstances. H&W is now a hollow shell these days and I think they would struggle to assemble FSS from pre built sections built by Navantia let alone full local build.

On top of that when the Cruise ship market does start to warm up again the Cruise Line operators will not be looking towards the UK if they want to expand the portfolio of yards they buy their vessels from...no they will be looking to China who have recently entered the Cruise Line market and have the advantage of access to the huge Industrial mega Cities like Guangzhou and Shenzhen to replicate the integrated supply chain needed to fit out Cruise Ships in mass. CSSC's Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding is building a 135,500 GT Vista Class Cruise ship for Carnival at a price point 20% less than what Fincantieri can offer, if the Chinese can pull off the supply chain and quality then the traditional European yards will have cause to worry!
 
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Flight

LE
Book Reviewer
CSSC's Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding is building a 135,500 GT Vista Class Cruise ship for Carnival at a price point 20% less than what Fincantieri can offer, if the Chinese can pull off the supply chain and quality then the traditional European yards will have cause to worry!


The Chinese subsidise their shipbuilders in order to put competitors out of business. They are already up to 40% of world production and showing no signs of stopping there.
 

Fedaykin

Swinger
The Chinese subsidise their shipbuilders in order to put competitors out of business. They are already up to 40% of world production and showing no signs of stopping there.

They are not precious about it certainly, in the end if or more than likely when they can pull off the specialised integrated supply chain most Cruise Ship operators will find it hard to ignore a 20% + cost saving on build. The main thing that is holding off China in this respect is the Covid related slump in the Cruise market leading to a glut of vessels sitting around the world mothballed. Catch with that is for the European Cruise Ship builders that will devastate their integrated supply network as the small companies feeding into the build yards start to fold for the lack of work...win win for China as they will be far better placed to stand up a supply network under those circumstances. Even worse they will probably be able to buy up the assets of those collapsed EU based companies to help them along in those plans.

When a UK yard is struggling to build two small inter island Ferries (and I do realise there are many industrial and political reasons for that) the idea that we could enter the Cruise Ship build market is laughable!
 

Flight

LE
Book Reviewer
The Chinese subsidise their shipbuilders in order to put competitors out of business. They are already up to 40% of world production and showing no signs of stopping there.

Worth pointing out that in the late teens, something like five hundred (yes, really) chinese shipyards closed. They were the remnants of the late noughties boom when they were chucking out any old rubbish, but just goes to show the scale.
 

Fedaykin

Swinger
Just to put some further food for thought and in some ways a rhetorical question that 'not a boffin' will be able to easily answer. It should be noted that CSSC's Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding is building two 135,500 GT Vista Class in parallel and has a further options for four more if taken up to be delivered through to 2028!

What British Shipyard could just do the steel bashing on two 135,500 GT vessels in parallel then deliver a further four by 2028?...I am pretty sure of the answer to that one.
 

Fedaykin

Swinger
I don't think the spod was suggesting we do....

I raise it more to convey the challenges that the UK faces expanding commercial ship building let alone military!

In the end we have a lot of small yards built where it made sense during the Victorian industrial revolution era, which is up estuary rivers close to a large low skilled work force.
 
It should be noted that CSSC's Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding is building two 135,500 GT Vista Class in parallel and has a further options for four more if taken up to be delivered through to 2028!

I wouldn't hold my breath on the four options. Cash flow won't sustain that now.
 

Flight

LE
Book Reviewer
I raise it more to convey the challenges that the UK faces expanding commercial ship building let alone military!

In the end we have a lot of small yards built where it made sense during the Victorian industrial revolution era, which is up estuary rivers close to a large low skilled work force.

Logically, given our history in such and the remaining shipbuilding in the EU, one would have to presume that the barrier, and the reason for the industry's extinction, must be rules and regulations based.

Suspect the elves and safety, British standards, inspection rules, qualifications and kit required merely for welding alone must be onerous. Germans are more expensive to employ than Brits so can't be entirely due to workforce costs. Imported steel is a level playing field.

Hence suspect it was actually the man from the ministry that killed the industry.
 
Logically, given our history in such and the remaining shipbuilding in the EU, one would have to presume that the barrier, and the reason for the industry's extinction, must be rules and regulations based.

Suspect the elves and safety, British standards, inspection rules, qualifications and kit required merely for welding alone must be onerous. Germans are more expensive to employ than Brits so can't be entirely due to workforce costs. Imported steel is a level playing field.

Hence suspect it was actually the man from the ministry that killed the industry.
Bad management, bad unions, bad government and no investment sort of sums it up.
 
Suspect the elves and safety, British standards, inspection rules, qualifications and kit required merely for welding alone must be onerous.

Class Society rules are the common factor, governing the vast majority of what you describe. Nothing to do with elves or governments.

The actual reasons lie in the 60s, when a combination of restrictive practices, lack of investment in productivity enhancing facilities (partly due to the practices issue) meant that UK yards became ever less competitive than their overseas counterparts. This was also followed by increases in quality and delivery in our competitors which inexorably led to a relatively poor track record for UK yards.

Result ever decreasing market share, poorer recent track record, increase in overhead borne per contract and ever-worsening competitiveness. Lower labour costs overseas didn't help, but ultimately if they're doing it quicker and cheaper than you, with better quality, then you're in serious bother.

We have probably built (as a nation) something like six or seven real commercial ships of any size since 1990 - and most of them were pre 2000..
 

Fedaykin

Swinger
I wouldn't hold my breath on the four options. Cash flow won't sustain that now.

I agree cash flow will more than likely prevent the four options being taken up but as I said it was a rhetorical question. What British Shipyard could steel bash six 135,500 GT in that timeframe...I would say none!

The actual reasons lie in the 60s, when a combination of restrictive practices, lack of investment in productivity enhancing facilities (partly due to the practices issue) meant that UK yards became ever less competitive than their overseas counterparts. This was also followed by increases in quality and delivery in our competitors which inexorably led to a relatively poor track record for UK yards.

Very much the underlying point I have been alluding to, actually you only have to look at this 1967 STV news programme about the construction of the QE2 to see these issues in action. I don't have NABs knowledge but even my untrained eye can see the production practices and facilities are clearly behind the curve. The whole workforce downing tools for tea or a trip to the pub at the same time is both fascinating and horrifying.


We have probably built (as a nation) something like six or seven real commercial ships of any size since 1990 - and most of them were pre 2000..

MS Pride of York nee MS Norsea the last big Govan built ferry was in 1987, I would be curious to know how much she cost to build vs her Japanese built sister.

I know my comments sound highly negative but if the UK shipbuilding is to thrive in the future any magical thinking about commercial shipbuilding needs to be kicked out the door!
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
Genuine question from someone with little or no knowledge of the subject: if the UK now has it's fishing grounds back, shouldn't some of the shipbuilding industry concentrate on state of the art fishing vessels and support ships, RN, HMCG, etc. ?

Innovation of specialist types might gain foreign orders - or are the overheads so high in comparison to the far east it's not worth trying ?
 
@Not a Boffin - any idea why the large erecting hall was built at Cammell Laird in the 70s? I remember it being built as a nipper. It's truly enormous and can be seen from miles away. There must have been a driver to build such a thing. I can imagine it would be useful to build submarines or other sneaky stuff under cover from Russian satellites. Other yards don't seem to have such things, at least not on the scale of Laird's. Yet the submarines are all built in Barrow after the Upholders. Was it really just to build subs, and with the concentration in Barrow there was no further need for the blue elephant?
 
It was meant to be an extrusion build hall for tankers. Start with the stern block in the shed, then skid it down the ways and build the next block and so on. Not a patch on the build halls you see in Finland or Germany, but not bad for the time.

Too late by then to make a real difference though.
 

endure

GCM
It was built as a target so that that those of us doing our radar tickets at Riversdale would have something to show the examiner on the displays after we'd just spent two days bringing two Marconi radars (one X band and one S band) back to life from the dead ;-)
 
Genuine question from someone with little or no knowledge of the subject: if the UK now has it's fishing grounds back, shouldn't some of the shipbuilding industry concentrate on state of the art fishing vessels and support ships, RN, HMCG, etc. ?

Innovation of specialist types might gain foreign orders - or are the overheads so high in comparison to the far east it's not worth trying ?

Trouble is that fishing vessels are bought by private companies, in the UK fairly small ones. The craft themselves are also pretty small compared to your warship, so best done in different facilities, not least because of the overhead incurred with military ships.

There's also the 800lb gorilla called Damen, who build them - and cutters etc - for fun. So much so they even keep a small stock, which tells you how healthy their cash flow is.
 

Fedaykin

Swinger
Sigh...fishing!

The reality is it is worth a tiny fraction of our economy, the UK Lawn Mower industry is worth more. The small boat owners are private individuals buying very small boats from a small healthy UK fishing boat industry. The five families who own the lions share of UK quota sell it on to foreign owned boats meaning the largest boat in the UK fleet is Dutch owned and operated. In respect of those owners the boats they do operate themselves are large factory trawlers and they are highly mercenary about their bottom line! The largest and most modern UK owned and operated boat the Kirkella was built in Turkey.

Fishing is never however much people wish it to be going to be the basis of a solid economy!
 
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Guns

ADC
Moderator
Book Reviewer
Sigh...fishing!

The reality is it is worth a tiny fraction of our economy, the UK Lawn Mower industry is worth more. The small boat owners are private individuals buying very small boats from a small healthy UK fishing boat industry. The five families who own the lions share of UK quota either it on to foreign owned boats meaning the largest boat in the UK fleet is Dutch owned and operated. In respect of those owners the boats they do operate themselves are large factory trawlers and they are highly mercenary about their bottom line! The largest and most modern UK owned and operated boat the Kirkella was built in Turkey.

Fishing is never however much people wish it to be going to be the basis of a solid economy!
Heretic!!!! He's a witch Burn Him!!!!!!!!
 

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