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Dockyards and shipyards are places which repair and build shipss. These can be yachts, military vessels, cruise liners or other cargo or passenger ships. Dockyards are sometimes more associated with maintenance and basing activities than shipyards, which are sometimes associated more with initial construction. The terms are routinely used intechangeably, in part because the evolution of dockyards and shipyards has often caused them to change or merge roles.

Countries with large ship building industries include Japan and Poland. The ship building industry tends to be more fragmented in Europe than in Asia. In European countries there are more smaller companies, compared to the fewer, larger companies in the ship building countries of Asia.

Most ship builders in the United States are privately owned, the largest being Northrop Grumman a multi-billion dollar 'defence enterprise'. The publicly owned shipyards in the US are Naval facilities providing basing, support and repair.

Shipyards are constructed by the sea or by tidal rivers to allow easy access for their ships. In Great Britain, for example, shipyards were established on the River Thames (King Henry VIII founded yards at Woolwich and Deptford in 1512 and 1513 respectively), River Mersey, River Tyne, River Wear and River Clyde). Sir Alfred Yarrow established his yard by the Thames in London's Docklands in the late 19th century before moving it northwards to the banks of the Clyde at Scotstoun (1906-08). Other famous UK shipyards include the Harland and Wolff yard in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where the Titanic was launched, and the naval dockyard at Chatham, England on the Medway in north Kent.

The site of a large shipyard will contain many specialised craness, dry docks, dust-free warehouses, painting facilities and extremely large areas for fabrication of the ships.


Ships were the first items to be manufactured in a factory, several hundred years before the Industrial Revolution, in the Venice Arsenal, Venice, Italy. The Arsenal apparently mass produced nearly one ship every day using pre-manufactured parts, and assembly lines and, at its height, employed 16,000 people.

Prominent dockyards and shipyards

Devonport Dockyard [1] [1], 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 of waterfront, 25 tidal berths, five basins and covers 650 acres. 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 it's 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[1]. Facilities in the local area also include a major naval training establishment and the base for the Royal Marines.

Newport News Shipbuilding, part of Northrop Grumman, is the largest private ship builder in the US and the one best known for its unique capacity to build the Nimitz class aircraft carriers.

Ingalls Shipbuilding, part of Northrop Grumman, located in Pascagoula, Mississippi repaired the USS Cole and builds offshore drilling rigs, cruise ships and naval vessels.

Yantai Raffles [1] is the largest ship builder in China. It has built numerous cargo ships, tugboats and support vessels, as well as pleasure vessels such as yachts.