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Monaco Marine
Constanța Shipyard, Romania
Turku Repair Yard, Finland
Dubai Maritime City, Dubai, UAE

A shipyard, also called a dockyard or boatyard, is a place where ships are built and repaired. These can be yachts, military vessels, cruise liners or other cargo or passenger ships. Compared to shipyards, which are sometimes more involved with original construction, dockyards are sometimes more linked with maintenance and basing activities. The terms are routinely used interchangeably, in part because the evolution of dockyards and shipyards has often caused them to change or merge roles.

Countries with large shipbuilding industries include Australia, Brazil, China, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam. The shipbuilding industry is more fragmented in Europe than in Asia where countries tend to have fewer, larger companies. Many naval vessels are built or maintained in shipyards owned or operated by the national government or navy.

Shipyards are constructed near the sea or tidal rivers to allow easy access for their ships. The United Kingdom, for example, has shipyards on many of its rivers.

The site of a large shipyard will contain many specialised cranes, dry docks, slipways, dust-free warehouses, painting facilities and extremely large areas for fabrication of the ships. After a ship's useful life is over, it makes its final voyage to a ship-breaking yard, often on a beach in South Asia. Historically ship-breaking was carried on in drydock in developed countries, but high wages and environmental regulations have resulted in movement of the industry to developing regions.


The world's earliest known dockyards were built in the Harappan port city of Lothal circa 2400 BC in Gujarat, India.[1][2] Lothal's dockyards connected to an ancient course of the Sabarmati river on the trade route between Harappan cities in Sindh and the peninsula of Saurashtra when the present-day surrounding Kutch desert formed a part of the Arabian Sea.

Lothal engineers accorded high priority to the creation of a dockyard and a warehouse to serve the purposes of naval trade.[citation needed] The dock was built on the eastern flank of the town, and is regarded by archaeologists as an engineering feat of the highest order. It was located away from the main current of the river to avoid silting, but provided access to ships at high tide as well.

The name of the ancient Greek city on the Gulf of Corinth, Naupactus, means "shipyard" (combination of the Greek words ναύς naus: "ship, boat"; and πήγνυμι pêgnumi, pegnymi: "builder, fixer"). Naupactus' reputation in this field extends to the time of legend, in which it is depicted as the place where the Heraclidae built a fleet to invade the Peloponnesus.

In the Spanish city of Barcelona, the Drassanes shipyards were active from at least the mid-13th century until the 18th century, although at times they served as a barracks for troops as well as an arsenal. During their time of operation the Drassanes were continuously changed, rebuilt and modified, but two original towers and part of the original eight construction-naves remain today. The site is currently a maritime museum.

From the 14th century, several hundred years before the Industrial Revolution, ships were the first items to be manufactured in a factory - in the Venice Arsenal of the Venetian Republic in present-day Italy. The Arsenal apparently mass-produced nearly one ship every day using pre-manufactured parts and assembly lines. At its height in the 16th century the enterprise employed 16,000 people.

Spain built component ships of the Great Armada of 1588 at ports such as Algeciras or Málaga.[3]

Historic shipyards[edit]

Prominent dockyards and shipyards[edit]


North America[edit]

Aerial view of Norfolk Naval Shipyard

South America[edit]

Brasfels Shipyard – Rio de Janeiro


Girvan shipyard Alexander Noble and son, Ayrshire Scotland
Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany
LaNaval shipyard in Bilbao, Spain
  • The Meyer Werft GmbH is one of the major German shipyards, headquartered in Papenburg at the river Ems. Founded in 1795 and starting with small wooden vessels, today Meyer Werft is one of world's leading builders of luxury passenger ships. Altogether about 700 ships of different types have been built at the yard.
  • Navantia: major public Spanish shipbuilding firm, which offers its services to both military and civil sector in three industrial areas: Cartagena / Cádiz / Ferrol (headquarters: Madrid) and with recent important projects as F100-class frigate program and S-80-class submarine program
  • Construcciones Navales del Norte LaNaval, Sestao (Bilbao)
  • Lisnave: repair facilities in Setúbal (Lisbon, Portugal)
  • Navantia-Cartagena shipyard (Spain)
    Devonport Dockyard, located in the city of Plymouth, England in the county of Devon is the largest naval base in Western Europe. It has 15 dry docks, four miles (6.4 km) of waterfront, 25 tidal berths, five basins and covers 650 acres (2.6 km2). It is the main refitting base for Royal Navy nuclear submarines and also handles work on frigates. It is the base for seven of the Trafalgar-class nuclear-powered hunter-killer submarines and many frigates, exploiting its convenient access to the Atlantic Ocean. It supports the Vanguard-class Trident missile nuclear ballistic missile submarines in a custom-built refitting dock. It houses HMS Courageous, a nuclear-powered submarine used in the Falklands War and open to the general public.[7] Facilities in the local area also include a major naval training establishment and a base for the Royal Marines.
  • Chatham Dockyard, located on the River Medway in Kent, was established as a royal dockyard by Queen Elizabeth I in 1567. For 414 years, the Dockyard provided over 500 ships for the Royal Navy, and was forefront of shipbuilding, industrial and architectural technology. At its height, it employed over 10,000 skilled artisans and covered 400 acres (1.6 km2). The dockyard closed in 1984, and most of the Georgian dockyard is now managed as a visitor attraction by the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust.
  • Damen Shiprepair in Brest, France. It operates three drydocks, up to 420 by 80 metres (1,380 by 260 ft).
  • Sunderland, County Durham a town once hailed as the "Largest Shipbuilding Town in the World".[8] ships were built at the Sunderland Docks from at least 1346[9] and by the mid-18th century Sunderland was one of the chief shipbuilding towns in the country.
  • Constanța Shipyard in Romania on the shores of the Black Sea Basin.
  • Mangalia Shipyard again in Romania, 45 km (28 mi) south of the port of Constanța.
  • Galați shipyard Galați is the largest naval shipyard on the Danube, given its strategic positioning inland but with access to the sea through either Sulina or Danube-Black Sea canal its output ranges from large tankers to research vessels, yachts and small coast guard patrol boats. The yard is known for taking on specialty projects and under Damen has completed over such 250 vessels since 1999.
  • The Black Sea Shipyard in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, is one of the largest shipyards in Europe, and is where all Soviet and Russian aircraft carriers were built.

East Asia[edit]

  • Kawasaki Shipbuilding Corporation's Kobe Shipyard & Machinery Works in Japan builds oil tankers, LNG carriers, bulk carriers, container ships, Ro/Ro vessels, jetfoils and warships for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
  • Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding's Tamano Works builds bulk carriers, ore carriers, crude oil tankers, oil product carriers, LNG carriers, LPG carriers, reefers, container ships, pure car carriers, cargo ships, patrol vessels, ocean surveillance ships, training vessels, fishery patrol boats and fishing boats
  • Mitsubishi Heavy Industries's Nagasaki Shipyard & Machinery Works primarily produces specialized commercial vessels, including LNG carriers, oil tankers and passenger cruise ships
  • Hyundai Heavy Industries Ulsan Shipyard & Gunsan shipyard, in South Korea, is currently the largest in the world and has the capability to build a variety of vessels including Commercial Cargo, FPSO offshore, container ship, LNG Carrier, Car carriers, Tankers like VLCC & ULCC, Iron ore carrier and Naval vessels like Aegis destroyers & submarines.
  • Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries Samho shipyard near Mokpo 4th largest South Korean shipyard for VLCC Oil tankers, container ships & LNG, Offshore, Subsidiary of Hyundai heavy industries.
  • CSBC Corporation, Taiwan, in Taiwan, is a private company that produces ships for civilian and military use. It was a state-owned enterprise of Taiwan (Republic of China) but transitioned to private ownership via an IPO in 2008. It is headquartered in Kaohsiung and shipyards in Kaohsiung and Keelung.
  • Yantai Raffles Shipyard, in Yantai, China, is that country's largest offshore builder. It employs the 20,000 ton crane Taisun, the holder of the Heavy Lift World Record.[10] Yantai Raffles' portfolio includes offshore platforms, pipe lay and other specialized vessels.
  • Jiangnan Shipyard, in Shanghai, China, is a subsidiary of China State Shipbuilding Corporation that produces both military and civilian ships. Its headquarters and main shipyard are based in Shanghai, with subsidiary shipyards in Shanghai and Chongqing.
  • Bohai Shipyard, in Huludao, China, is a subsidiary of China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation that produces military (including nuclear powered vessels) and civilian ships.

South East Asia[edit]

Visakhapatnam Shipyard

South Asia and the Middle East[edit]

Cranes in Cochin Shipyard (India).
Dhaka Shipyard
Dhaka Shipyard – welding propellers

106-by-26-metre (348 ft × 85 ft) Syncrolift and side transfer system.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Archaeological remains of a Harappa Port-Town, Lothal". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  2. ^ "This is Modi govt's plan for India's first National Maritime Museum in Gujarat's Lothal". 9 March 2020.
  3. ^ "Quarterly Review". Quarterly Review (100–118). Anglo-Spanish Society: 43. 1977. Retrieved 23 June 2023. It is probable that at least a quarter of the ships of the Great Armada sent against England were built at Algeciras or Malaga.
  4. ^ "Ancient Shipyard Discovered in Egypt - Archaeology Magazine". Retrieved 13 July 2022.
  5. ^ "Vigor Marine". Vigor Industrial. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  6. ^ E-mail * Saisissez votre adresse électronique. (24 December 2012). "STX Europe démantelé, Fincantieri va devenir le géant européen de la navale" (in French). Mer et Marine. Archived from the original on 2 May 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  7. ^ "Submarine Museum marks Falklands 30th anniversary". BBC. 2 May 2012. Archived from the original on 14 June 2012.
  8. ^ "History of Shipbuilding in the North East". BBC. Retrieved 18 January 2007.
  9. ^ "History of shipbuilding on Wearside". Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  10. ^ "Yantai Raffles' world-record gantry crane should see first lift this year – Offshore". Retrieved 19 May 2012.
  11. ^ "The Bangkok Dock Company (1957) Limited". The Bangkok Dock Company. Archived from the original on 14 March 2013. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  12. ^ "Bason Shipyard's Brief History" (in Vietnamese). Bason Shipyard Website. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  13. ^ "Alang ship-breakers face Rs 2,000-cr hit from Rupee fall". The Economic Times. 13 January 2012. Archived from the original on 14 November 2013.
  14. ^ "Drydocks World: Profile". Archived from the original on 4 May 2018. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  15. ^ "HOME". Archived from the original on 24 February 2018. Retrieved 6 May 2018.

External links[edit]

  • Shipbuilding History – extensive collection of information about North American shipyards, including over 500 pages of US shipyard construction records