Shipbuilding Industry - Statistics & Facts

Humans started building ships many thousands of years ago, as the construction of ships or floating vessels enabled them to expand their populations beyond their own continental dwellings. As societies developed and progressed, shipbuilding further allowed for civilizations to take part in commercial trade with lands far from their own. Furthermore, it equipped those civilizations with large naval fleets to participate in sea-faring conquests to explore and conquer new lands. Traditional ships depended on human power and wind to propel vessels across waters. With the onset of the Industrial Revolution, ships were then able to use new materials, designs, and propulsions systems, including the steam engine, to improve the quality of commercial and military vessels.

The need to import and export goods, as sparked by globalization, made shipbuilding an important strategic industry. Although Europe remains a crucial market for the production of cruise vessels, the East Asian region dominates shipbuilding with China, Japan, and South Korea being the largest shipbuilding nations, globally. The shortage of shipyard workers and the supply chain disruption induced by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are expected to slow production down. The ship demolition activity is also centered in South East Asia, with Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan accounting for 92 percent of the global ship scrapping activity.

The leading shipbuilding companies worldwide include Hyundai HI, Daewoo Shipbuilding, China State Shipbuilding Corp. and Samsung HI. Philly Shipyard and General Dynamics NASSCO are among the few U.S.-based companies in the field of shipbuilding.

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Shipbuilding industry worldwide

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