• the current state of research and technology application in the U.S. shipbuilding industry;
  • current and proposed programs that invest in ship design and production-related research; and
  • the current state of U.S. education in naval architecture and marine engineering.

This report presents the results of the Marine Board study.

The study was conducted by a specially appointed committee of experts with extensive expertise in a broad array of relevant disciplines. This committee, the National Research Council Committee on National Needs in Maritime Technology, based its conclusions and recommendations on committee members' first-hand knowledge of international shipyards, ship acquisition, and technical exchange agreements between U.S. and international yards and on information obtained through workshops, briefings, and a literature review.

Results of the Study

Improved technology is critical if the United States is to regain a place in world commercial shipbuilding markets. For the industry to be profitable, it is necessary—although not sufficient—for U.S. shipbuilders to be at least on a par technically with competing international yards. However, U.S. shipbuilders now lag behind in the four major technology categories the committee examined:

  • business-process technologies—the principal ''up-front" management processes and other management activities, notably technologies for preliminary design, bidding, estimating, and sourcing, that are linked to the marketing capabilities of shipbuilders;
  • system technologies—the engineering systems, such as process engineering and computer-aided design and manufacturing, that support shipyard operations;
  • shipyard production processes technology—the methods used in fabricating, assembling, erecting, and outfitting vessels; and
  • new materials and product technologies—the innovations, including new designs and new components, that meet particular market needs.

Relative to these four categories of technology as they are commercially applied, U.S. builders are somewhat behind in shipyard production technologies, are further behind in system technologies, and are quite far behind in business-process and new product and new materials technologies.

Government involvement in solving what appear to be primarily strategic and operating management problems must be limited. Government agencies should not be involved in the resolution of day-to-day management problems.

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