Architects and arc welders - fabricators and fitters

Managing Director - John White

Managing Director - John White

Managing Director John White smashes a Champagne bottle of recognition against the hull of skilled shipwrights 

Welcome dear reader to your latest edition of Inside Marine. The sun is shining on the east coast of England at the time of typing and with our office being in a port town, we are afforded some beautiful views out across the North Sea.

Most of my team live in and around the two historic port towns of Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth and therefore are used to seeing vessels of all shapes and sizes either in port or out at sea. The size of some of the vessels that make it into harbour is impressive given that both ports where originally designed to accommodate fishing fleets back in the days of sail!

More impressive are some of those vessels anchored out at sea that would have no chance of entering these harbours safely. The English Channel, as many seafarers will know, is a very busy highway for anything from a pleasure craft day boat to a super tanker.

Visually impressive as these common sights are, I wonder how many of us appreciate the amount of work that goes into building these various ships and boats. As a child growing up in Lowestoft, some of my family members worked at local shipyards so I therefore had the advantage of seeing some vessels being built from scratch. But despite the comparatively small scale of these craft compared to some of the titans of the sea we have now, it was still enough to overwhelm me as a boy. The sheer number of shipwrights required to build the vessels from the hull up was like watching the hustle and bustle of a busy city at work.

Much has changed sine I was a boy though and now a ship may be built in prefabricated sections in different parts of the shipyard, or in some cases in different locations completely. This block design method is thanks to technological improvements in naval architecture and the introduction of computer aided design back in the 1970s. With this technology, it made the construction of prefabricated sections that much more precise.

Despite these advancements, it still, for me at least, does not take away from the appreciation of seeing a ship built or repaired. I was lucky enough in my twenties during my time in the Royal Navy to see my submarine go into refit. From the moment we sailed into the dry dock, watched the dry dock gate close and the water begin to drain, it was a memorable sight that quickly took me back to my childhood wonder.

To then see a swarm of dockyard workers descend upon her, cut holes into her hull, pull large pieces out and put newer pieces in, was at the same time exciting and terrifying, especially when considering that I would be setting sail in her again and expecting to submerge and surface safely knowing that I had watched big holes cut into the hull!

Therefore, on this sunny day, safe shoreside with a pair of binoculars, I can both admire the floating marvels and appreciate those men and women that build them and help keep them afloat in some of the most hostile environments that our planet has to offer. Thank you one and all!

John White - Managing Director