Go Back   Shipping History > Shipping Discussion > Mess Deck > The Engine Room

Harland & Wolff to go into administration

Post Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 5th August 2019, 12:24
Tomvart's Avatar
Tomvart United Kingdom Tomvart is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Merseyside
Posts: 111
Images: 445
Harland & Wolff to go into administration

Seen the very sad news that this once great UK shipbuilding icon is set to be consigned to history on the BBC website this morning.

Incredibly sad, but it has probably been on the cards for a few years.

The BBC stated that "Unions want the shipyard to be nationalised, a call that has been backed by the Labour Party, but the government has said the crisis is ultimately a commercial issue".

How on earth will nationalisation help.....look what happened when UK Shipyards were nationalised in the 70's?

Link to the article here
__________________
“Sailors, with their built in sense of order, service and discipline, should really be running the world.”

Nicholas Monsarrat
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 5th August 2019, 14:45
BobClay's Avatar
BobClay United Kingdom BobClay is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Cornwall UK
Posts: 974
Images: 50
And in the meantime we're building RFA ships in Korea. It goes beyond insanity.
__________________
"I say we take off, nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."
Corporal Hicks
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 5th August 2019, 15:01
Varley's Avatar
Varley Isle of Man Varley is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Isle of Man, G.B.
Posts: 1,089
Whilst I agree the Korean RFAs are something of an embarrassment (although I am very sure they will be just as good builds as if done in GB) however in terms of volume not enough to keep a significant fraction of one building facility in full time employment. I am for mandating government should spend at home first (any premium in cost remaining in national circulation) however such a command economy would have to mandate closure of all but one or two facilities at the same time. Trade prohibits support of building British Merchant bottoms so unless we are to raise and maintain another Grand Fleet where would come greater demand?
__________________
David V
Lord Finchley tried to mend the electric light
Himself. It stuck him dead and serve him right
It is the duty of the wealthy man
To give employment to the artisan
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 5th August 2019, 15:35
BobClay's Avatar
BobClay United Kingdom BobClay is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Cornwall UK
Posts: 974
Images: 50
Well when it's all gone, and this applies across the board in industry. We'll be pretty much f*****. I guess then you'll pontificate then about policy and business acumen while wondering where your next meal is going to come from.
__________________
"I say we take off, nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."
Corporal Hicks
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 5th August 2019, 17:03
Tomvart's Avatar
Tomvart United Kingdom Tomvart is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Merseyside
Posts: 111
Images: 445
I think the issue with UK shipbuilding currently, particularly that of Military ships - is do do with the p1ss poor procurement process they use, which essentially is almost solely based on the price.

Having taken part in a number of bids tendered by the MOD over a number of years , I can say that they are dreadful, costly and painful for the potential bidders, and almost every time - the cheapest bid wins - hands down.

Warships are governed by a similar procurement process which dictates that it must be a UK Shipyard that builds the ship - which currently means BAE Systems, both are poor options in my opinion, I mean - why on earth would the UK government encourage a monopoly - which only serves to drive the price up and the delivered build quality down?

Nationalisation followed by privatisation (with building type clauses on each yard) destroyed many of the private firms abilities to freely compete and ultimately led to the closure of dozens of good UK shipyards, this situation was made worse by decades of under-investment in manufacturing and prefabrication techniques.

I agree with Varley that the RFA's should be procured from UK yards, this way many of the now defunct famous shipbuilders may have still been in existence today, and BAE would not have the expensive monopoly it holds.

Its a crying shame that all of that wonderful expertise in ship design & manufacture have been lost, my old Grandfather and old man would be turning in their graves.

Its looking very bleak for UK industry!
__________________
“Sailors, with their built in sense of order, service and discipline, should really be running the world.”

Nicholas Monsarrat
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 5th August 2019, 18:32
Dartskipper's Avatar
Dartskipper United Kingdom Dartskipper is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Bedford, Bedfordshire.
Posts: 896
Images: 79
Tom's comment about contracts being won by the cheapest bidder, reminded me of something I read in the papers last month about the Apollo missions. One of the astronauts (I forget which one, Lovell or Borman?) was asked what he was thinking when he was strapped in the capsule, and as the countdown neared "Zero, we have lift off." His answer spoke volumes when he said, "All I am thinking at that moment is that everything behind me was built or supplied by the lowest bidder."
__________________
"You can't rollerskate in a Buffalo herd." Roger Miller.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 5th August 2019, 19:38
Tomvart's Avatar
Tomvart United Kingdom Tomvart is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Merseyside
Posts: 111
Images: 445
That's not the best thing to be going through your mind when your underneath the most powerful rocket man ever designed!!!
__________________
“Sailors, with their built in sense of order, service and discipline, should really be running the world.”

Nicholas Monsarrat
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 5th August 2019, 19:39
erimus's Avatar
erimus United Kingdom erimus is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: North Yorkshire
Posts: 339
Watching one of the Largest Ships programmes,on Quest recently, the technology on building a Maersk vessel was beyond my imagination...and how many specialised welders were working on that one ship 3000!........sorry H&W no chance there wouldn't be that many in the UK.

geoff
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 5th August 2019, 20:49
BobClay's Avatar
BobClay United Kingdom BobClay is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Cornwall UK
Posts: 974
Images: 50
You're right. A friend of mine was one. Time served specialist in the English Electric heavy electrical plant in my home town. That slowly withered away and he ended up driving a courier van. Once pissed away it's gone. And there's been a lot of pissing in this country.

Even more so now...
__________________
"I say we take off, nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."
Corporal Hicks
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 5th August 2019, 22:06
Makko Mexico Makko is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Posts: 239
Images: 7
We had to refurbish a very large thickener drive for a Dutch company. The main gear was unique (9ft diameter) and we had to get special insurance for it's maintenance removal. The client requested that as part of the package, we supply a spare one, cost no problem!


We went with the OEM who had in store the original moulds, in Stockton or Darlington or up that way, anyway. They quoted us a ridiculous price and a delivery time of 12 months - MINIMUM!!! There was only one other foundry in the UK with the capacity and their quoted delivery time was 18 to 24 months - HOPEFULLY!!!!

We duly informed the client and they said,"no problem, there is a foundry up the road who can do it!". The Service Manager and QA/QC went over to check out the facility, the contract was signed and moulds shipped off. QA/QC nipped over a few times to check progress and the finished, impecabbly machined gear was delivered seven weeks later, one week ahead of schedule. The cost was very reasonable, less than half that which we had been quoted in the UK.

The main point of this story is exactly Bob's above - It is not just the case that there is no or little heavy industry still surviving in the UK, there is simply not the skill and a dearth of machine tools suitable for the job.

When I left the above job after my agreed five years, I decided to sign on the dole to claw my taxes back. That is another tale in itself. When they interviewed me to find possible job matches, their system did not have a numeric level for my degree of education, experience or abilities. The guy just shrugged his shoulders and asked if I was interested in working in the interim as a night security guard, forklift truck driver or in a telephone call centre!!! As they used to say, flocking incredible. One email application later, I had a job (splendidly well paid) which was much to my interest, back in Mexico! I am now in my fourteenth year in said job, speaks reams.

On another note, I have often mentioned to family and friends who are in Uni and thinking about entering the workforce, it is now a global job market. Languages are a must! Why vegetate in good old Blighty when you can do the job you want anywhere in the world for much better wages and job package.

Rgds.
Dave
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 6th August 2019, 10:40
Tmac1720's Avatar
Tmac1720 Northern Ireland Tmac1720 is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Newtownabbey
Posts: 725
Images: 14
Fred Olsen renewed his merchant fleet by new builds from Japan and Korea yet he owned H&W. If you owned Tesco why would you shop in Lidl?....

Short answer to the reason for H&W going to the wall...the land was worth more than the shipyard. 350 acres of prime real estate slap bang in the centre of Belfast. New apartments, office blocks and hotels springing up all the time...if you bought a riverside apartment for £1 million would you want a noisy dirty shipyard next door? I think we know the answer.
__________________
Oul scabby knuckles

If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried

Anything God didn't create was made by engineers.

I try so hard to make things idiot proof but they keep making better idiots
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 6th August 2019, 11:25
BobClay's Avatar
BobClay United Kingdom BobClay is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Cornwall UK
Posts: 974
Images: 50
I would buy an apartment for £1 million but I suspect Barclaycard would be seriously pissed off about it.
__________________
"I say we take off, nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."
Corporal Hicks
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 6th August 2019, 15:43
Engine Serang Europe Engine Serang is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Dublin,
Posts: 961
Modern yards have done away with 14 & 28 lb sledge hammers, the noisiest item in the yard is the laser.
One must not get stuck in the era of the Arrol Gantry, the Riveting Gangs and the Red Leaders; Block construction is the future. I'd buy an apartment adjacent to H&W just for the view and to catch snippets of the workers witty repartee at lunchtimes. An education in itself.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 6th August 2019, 16:56
Tmac1720's Avatar
Tmac1720 Northern Ireland Tmac1720 is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Newtownabbey
Posts: 725
Images: 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Engine Serang View Post
I'd buy an apartment adjacent to H&W just for the view and to catch snippets of the workers witty repartee at lunchtimes. An education in itself.
Take you to have good ears ES as there are none of "oul hands" left to spread the banter.

Harland and Wolff will NEVER die as an entity, to do that they have to kill the name and it will never be forgotten in Belfast.

H&W taught me a trade, gave me a livelihood and a lifetime of memories, good and bad but most of all it turned a boy into a man able to stand his corner in the world and for that I am eternally thankful.
__________________
Oul scabby knuckles

If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried

Anything God didn't create was made by engineers.

I try so hard to make things idiot proof but they keep making better idiots
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 7th August 2019, 08:23
Engine Serang Europe Engine Serang is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Dublin,
Posts: 961
Who owns the big yellow cranes, Samson & Goliath? Is it H&W or Belfast Harbour Commissioners or Belfast Corporation?
What is their likely fate, as I'm sure their upkeep is a costly item?
There is another crane at H&W, much older than Sampson & Goliath which is much more evocative of the years of building warships, tankers and cargo ships, will it be preserved? I think it should.

Last edited by Engine Serang; 7th August 2019 at 09:40. Reason: Advice from Pilot 24. Too much Sunday School as a child.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 7th August 2019, 09:29
Pilot24 Northern Ireland Pilot24 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Larne, Co. Antrim
Posts: 11
Goliath perhaps.........................or just dry wit surfacing!
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 7th August 2019, 11:33
Tomvart's Avatar
Tomvart United Kingdom Tomvart is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Merseyside
Posts: 111
Images: 445
When Swan Hunters in Wallsend met the same fate a few years ago, almost all of the Cranes (Including the old floating crane Titan), Floating Dry Dock and much of the machinery and tools were sold to an Indian Shipyard by the receivers.
__________________
“Sailors, with their built in sense of order, service and discipline, should really be running the world.”

Nicholas Monsarrat
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 7th August 2019, 11:44
Tmac1720's Avatar
Tmac1720 Northern Ireland Tmac1720 is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Newtownabbey
Posts: 725
Images: 14
ES The cranes belong to H&W but are considered as listed monuments by the Department of Culture and Leisure which means they cannot be disposed off without government approval.

the maintenance cost as at 2018 is £230,000 per crane and each crane is repainted in alternate years, Samson one year Goliath the next but whether the DCAl can fund this remains a question to be answered. Two of the old steam driven cranes are rebuilt and preserved at the Folk and Transport Museum and will be on display sometime next year, or so I am told. The giant floating crane was sold about 12 years ago and was subsequently scrapped.

Hope that info is useful.
__________________
Oul scabby knuckles

If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried

Anything God didn't create was made by engineers.

I try so hard to make things idiot proof but they keep making better idiots
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 7th August 2019, 18:31
Tomvart's Avatar
Tomvart United Kingdom Tomvart is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Merseyside
Posts: 111
Images: 445
I have just read a very informative article on Save The Royal Navy website documenting the potential impact to the RN (and general shipbuilding) of the potential loss of H&W as a shipbuilder, the article can be found here

One fact I hadn't realised (in the article) was that....."H&W were central to the British consortium bidding to build the Fleet Solid Support ship. Boris Johnson has appointed Anne-Marie Trevelyn MP as the new Defence Procurement Minister. She is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Shipbuilding which advocates that the FSS be built in the UK and not open to foreign competition. In her brief tenure as Defence Secretary, Penny Mordaunt also advocated “buying British” and there is appears to be political momentum to ensure the FSS is built in a UK yard."

The optimist in me says all may not be lost - it seems there are some damned good reason for retaining H&W as a shipbuilder according to the report, considering H&W are supplying BAE Systems with parts for the new Dreadnought submarines (as well as owning the UKs largest dry dock - which is big enough to take QE / PoW) - there is also much political interest, and of course so much potential for future New Builds of warships/auxiliaries in the very near future.

One lives in hope that this is a success story, my home town of Wallsend turned into a ghost town when Swan Hunters finally closed the doors in 2006.
__________________
“Sailors, with their built in sense of order, service and discipline, should really be running the world.”

Nicholas Monsarrat
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 8th August 2019, 00:08
Varley's Avatar
Varley Isle of Man Varley is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Isle of Man, G.B.
Posts: 1,089
We cannot support shipbuilding industry on RN/RFA requirements alone unless we are to rebuild the Grande Fleet. How would we successfully entice merchant owners to build in them?

(Perhaps some other bread and butter work - why not housing built on the block principle? Grand Designs rather than Grand Fleet).
__________________
David V
Lord Finchley tried to mend the electric light
Himself. It stuck him dead and serve him right
It is the duty of the wealthy man
To give employment to the artisan
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 8th August 2019, 01:31
Tomvart's Avatar
Tomvart United Kingdom Tomvart is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Merseyside
Posts: 111
Images: 445
I don't think the report (or myself) is suggesting that we go back to having an enormous fleet at all David, just trying point out that the procurement authority needs to have a choice of suppliers when they go out to tender....without needing to go shopping abroad.

From what I have read - on Monday, there were only 3 shipyards left in the UK that were capable of building warships (other than the Carrier Alliance), today...only 2 remain, one of them is BAE up in Scotland (likely to have a monopoly on all warship builds if the current trend continues), the other is Camel Lairds here on the Wirral - who have not built a complete warship in decades and are now laying men off - I'd say that was critical!

If they can build warships - they can also build merchant ships, however I agree that getting the price to be competitive whilst winning sufficient orders from the shipping companies is a significant challenge - particularly when you have to compete with Far Eastern builders that drive down the price by having huge economies of scale.
__________________
“Sailors, with their built in sense of order, service and discipline, should really be running the world.”

Nicholas Monsarrat
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 8th August 2019, 10:54
Varley's Avatar
Varley Isle of Man Varley is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Isle of Man, G.B.
Posts: 1,089
Tom, of course I get that - Governments should not spend outside the family unless they have to. But you cannot expect any industry to standby for your exclusive business when commercial conditions make it impossible to have a market outside that very limited customer base (in reality, one).

I still think there is mileage in trying to build something else with the same technology. Houses, after all, should be watertight and had mine been built in blocks and hoisted onto site it might be. Unfortunately it isn't but that is another story.

To say the far east has achieved superiority simply by economy of scale is not really the driver. How do you build scale unless you are trading up. It is the cost of labour that allowed that. The one thing that the West could not have controlled (could we have had an underclass of workers unable to support themselves because of the risen living expectations of their neighbours? Wait, perhaps there is mileage in that. Import the workers, like the NHS and care industry. I fear that would do nothing for our reputation for the product, which like many others posting was an achievement of the trades rather than the management and direction).
__________________
David V
Lord Finchley tried to mend the electric light
Himself. It stuck him dead and serve him right
It is the duty of the wealthy man
To give employment to the artisan

Last edited by Varley; 8th August 2019 at 10:56.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 8th August 2019, 16:57
Tomvart's Avatar
Tomvart United Kingdom Tomvart is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Merseyside
Posts: 111
Images: 445
I agree with the points you have made David, all valid, however if anyone in Government had followed up on any of the recommendations in Sir John Parkers National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSbS) published just a couple of years ago, we wouldn't be in this dire situation we are today (incidentally he was an apprentice and in the design team at H&W in the 60's and has a wealth of shipyard and manufacturing experience - unlike many of the goons holding political power and influence at the moment).

As the report states...."The sorry state of the industry rather makes a mockery of the central premise of the NSbS that would see work distributed across the UK and sustained by a drumbeat of orders and exports"

The NSbS was received by those in the industry with acclaim and much hope, however - as is normally the case, his carefully thought out strategy for the future of shipbuilding in the UK has been sidelined by those in power, I can only assume because it would need cash investment and some serious long term strategic planning on behalf of HMG, instead of the reactive short term stuff that currently occurs.

Your last point (importing labour similar to the NHS) is also quite pertinent to this situation - many of the welders here in Camel Lairds have come over from the EU, a similar situation also exists at BAE in Scotland - who would have thought that we would have needed to import welders in order to manufacture a very small selection of ships!
__________________
“Sailors, with their built in sense of order, service and discipline, should really be running the world.”

Nicholas Monsarrat
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 8th August 2019, 18:15
Dartskipper's Avatar
Dartskipper United Kingdom Dartskipper is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Bedford, Bedfordshire.
Posts: 896
Images: 79
If I may drop a different pebble into the pool of discussion, ships built in the Far East also benefitted from the low cost of the basic raw material, produced locally with heavy government subsidies. British yards using British Steel were on a loser before they even factored in the cost of labour.
__________________
"You can't rollerskate in a Buffalo herd." Roger Miller.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 8th August 2019, 19:19
Tomvart's Avatar
Tomvart United Kingdom Tomvart is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Merseyside
Posts: 111
Images: 445
Another good point for the mix Roy - its looking bleaker!
__________________
“Sailors, with their built in sense of order, service and discipline, should really be running the world.”

Nicholas Monsarrat
Reply With Quote
Post Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 03:54.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.