Docks Buzzing with Vigor Industrial Evolution
This article orginially appeared on The Seattle Times.
The United States was the world’s dominant shipbuilder half a century ago. But like flat-screen televisions, photovoltaics, wind energy, advanced batteries and scores of other formerly American-developed and -led sectors, shipbuilding is now centered in Asia.
South Korea, Japan and China invested heavily to develop their shipyards, with close ties between government and business, big subsidies, protectionism and the further advantage of cheaper labor.
Major American shipyards have been closing since the 1980s, throwing tens of thousands out of work. The next casualty may be the hugeAvondale yard near New Orleans, which at its peak employed 26,000. Efforts are being made to give a much-shrunken operation a new mission with oil and gas rigs, but it’s unclear they will succeed.