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Last week it was announced that Harland & Wolf had passed into administration. In other words Bust! Many GREAT ships were built by this company. We all know the Titanic - Canberra. I did three years on Southern Cross, which sailed on under various names for ages. They built good ships. Harlands also built the majority of the Union Castle fleet. All that expertise has bow gone and the company passed into history along with the other Great Shipbuilders of the age. Where did it all go wrong?
I was involved with a buy-out team to take H&W private in 1988 (It was under Government control at that time). The problem with H&W was at that time its very low productivity. It was taking 50 - 55 man hours to put together a ton of steel compared with the low 20s in Sweden in its hay day of ship building and Japan at that time of just under 20 m.h./t. We lost out in our bid and was 'sold' to Fred Olsen and it more or less continued with the same management under Sir John Parker and technical input from Kawasaki. The order book of 3 - 4 suezmax tankers were not enough to give the Yard a chance to improve and it just drifted from then on and is now history.