Greenfield Shipyards and Modernization in the British Shipbuilding Industry and Elsewhere, 1900–1977

By Hugh Murphy & Rachel Blackman-Rogers, published May 2022


This article considers the largely neglected topic of greenfield shipyards and modernization in British shipbuilding from 1900 to 1977. Post-1945, the end of the long-seller’s market for shipbuilders in 1958 ushered in a sustained period of intense international competition just as spatially limited British shipbuilding firms had begun, rather late in the day, to modernize their yards in an attempt to compete with more capital intensive-orientated and less spatially constrained shipyards in Japan and Sweden, and later, South Korea. Government then played an increasing role in modernizing the industry through grants and loans during the 1960s and early 1970s, but the industry continued to struggle, particularly three large firms engaged in VLCC construction before and after the OPEC oil price hikes in 1973-74 and thereafter to nationalization of the industry in 1977.

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Filed under: Twentieth Century
Subjects include: Shipbuilding & Design

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