Shipbuilding is a longstanding practice at Galați: by the late 18th century, longboats, canoes, sailboats and kayaks were being built there for both commercial and military use. Due to Moldavia's being a vassal state, most war vessel production was on behalf of the Ottoman Navy through the 1820s. The wood, of high quality, came from forests upstream and was brought by raft. It was not until the late 1830s, following the establishment of a free port at Galați, that the bulk of its ships started being used domestically: seven vessels were built there in 1839, followed by ten in 1840. In 1893, a local resident named Fernic purchased the arsenal of the fleet stationed there and the Naval Mechanical Factory, beginning ship production at what was called Șantierul Naval Fernic Galați ("Fernic Shipyard Galați"). Four river monitors (NMS Ion C. Brătianu, Mihail Kogălniceanu, Alexandru Lahovari and Lascăr Catargiu) were commissioned for the Romanian Navy in 1907. Built in sections in the Austro-Hungarian port of Trieste, they were assembled in Galați. In 1911, under the Premiership of Petre P. Carp, the area suffered some structural collapse, allegedly as a result of bad workmanship and political corruption (investigated by Nicolae Fleva on behalf of the Opposition).
During the interwar period and into World War II, the yard had strategic significance, and two submarines (NMS Rechinul and NMS Marsuinul) and one minelayer (NMS Amiral Murgescu) were built there. Initially commanded by German captains, these later fell to the Soviet Navy. From 1938 to 1944, Galați completed 65 civilian ships and 11 warships: in addition to the submarines and minelayer, these consisted of four speedboats and four minesweepers. The components of the Cernavodă Bridge were also built at Galați. In 1974, the Communist regime made a massive investment into the shipbuilding industry, so that the yard became fully stocked with supplies, including an animal farm. From that time until the 1989 fall of the regime, some 80% of the shipyard's products were exported.
Following this event, there were 32 unsold boats at the shipyard, and these were only liquidated in full in 2000. Meanwhile, the Dutch Damen Group had taken over the yard. The group's interest in Galați began in 1994, when it subcontracted several cargo vessel hulls. This was the means by which its manager decided whether to invest somewhere. Noticing too that the boats left over from the Communist period were being reinforced, he decided to take control of the shipyard company's stock, which happened in 1999. Although he wished to obtain 100% of the shares, he only managed to acquire 99%, the remainder being in the hands of unidentified individuals who received privatization vouchers in the 1990s.
Galați is the largest naval shipyard on the Danube, its output ranging from large tankers to small coast guard patrol boats. The company also represents a significant element of the local economy. Since 1990, all of its products have gone to export. Following Damen's takeover, an investment plan focusing on improving efficiency and working conditions was introduced. For example, at the time of the takeover, spoons and coffee cups were listed in the inventory; afterwards, all items worth under $100 were considered disposable goods and no longer placed on the record books. The yard builds offshore vessels, naval vessels, special vessels (such as buoy laying vessels, patrol vessels and research vessels), tugs, workboats and mega yachts, and has also produced oil tankers, container carriers, cargo barges and drilling rig platforms—over 250 vessels since 1999. There were some 1550 employees at the end of 2010, as well as 1150 subcontracted employees handling support functions including electricity, HVAC, carpentry, blasting and painting. This was down from 10,000 total employees in 2006, of whom 3100 worked for Damen. Engineering services are mainly supplied by a Galați firm established in 2004 in which Damen is the major shareholder. Production takes place on four lines: for vessels up to 10,000 dwt, for vessels up to 26,000 dwt, for vessels up to 50,000 dwt and for tugs and workboats. There is also a workshop for piping and galvanizing and a blasting and painting hall.
- Bold, p. 68
- Bold, p. 72
- (Romanian) Sorin Anghel, "Afacere bună cu vase pe bandă", Jurnalul Național, 16 October 2006; accessed February 19, 2012
- Introduction at the Damen Shipyards Galați site; accessed February 19, 2012
- Raymond Stănescu, Cristian Crăciunoiu, Marina română în primul război mondial, p. 24, 31. Bucharest: Editura Modelism, 2000, ISBN 978-973-8101-04-3
- Georgeta Filitti, "România acum o sută de ani", Magazin Istoric, November 2011, p.61
- (Romanian) Bogdan Nistor, "Povestea neştiută a celor două submarine construite la Galaţi: Marsuinul şi Rechinul", Adevărul, 2 June 2015; accessed March 14, 2016
- (Romanian) Introduction at the Galați City Hall site; accessed February 19, 2012
- Organisation at the Damen Shipyards Galați site; accessed February 19, 2012
- Products at the Damen Shipyards Galați site; accessed February 19, 2012
- Key figures 2010 at the Damen Shipyards Galați site; accessed February 19, 2012
- Engineering at the Damen Shipyards Galați site; accessed February 19, 2012
- (Romanian) About Us, at the Marine Engineering Galați site; accessed February 19, 2012
- Facilities at the Damen Shipyards Galați site; accessed February 19, 2012
- Piping & Deep Hot Galvanizing Workshop at the Damen Shipyards Galați site; accessed February 19, 2012
- Blasting & painting hall at the Damen Shipyards Galați site; accessed February 19, 2012
- Emilian Bold, "România și problema reparațiilor de la Conferința de la Spa la planul Dawes", in Analele științifice ale Universității "Al. I. Cuza" din Iași, Istorie, vol. XV (1969), issue 1, pp. 71–88
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Damen Shipyards Galaţi.|