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Mitsubishi Shipbuilding

Nagasaki Shipyard & Machinery Works was established in 1857 as Japan's first warship repair facility, under the name, Nagasaki Yotetsusho Foundry. And that was the beginning of the now famous Mitsubishi Dockyard and Iron Works - the largest shipbuilding yard in Nippon. The Akunoura Engine Works were originally founded by the Shogun's Government in 1857, for repairing small war vessels owned by the Shogun. At the request of the Tokugawa Shogunate Government, a group of Dutch engineers with necessary materials and machine tools arrived at Nagasaki and started on the construction of the foundry, then called Nagasaki Yotetsusho. The foundry was redesigned as ironworks in 1860 and renamed "Nagasaki Seitetsusho." The ironworks was completed in 1861.

The Nagasaki Seitetsusho, the ironworks, was taken over in 1868 by the Meiji Government at the time of the Restoration and put under the control of Nagasaki prefectural judiciary. A large dry dock, now No. 1 Dock, was constructed in 1879 (This dock was demolished in 1963 for the construction of new dry docks.) The patent slip at Kosuge was purchased, and the business became gradually established. The principal work done during the Government occupation was the building of a wooden steamer, the Kosuge Mara.

In 1884, Yataro Iwasaki, the founder of Mitsubishi, took a lease of Government-owned Nagasaki Shipyard. He named it Nagasaki Shipyard & Machinery Works, and started the shipbuilding business on a full scale with only 800 men. In 1888 the Mitsubishi Company took the shop off the hands of the government and paid for it a fanciful price of several hundred thousand yen. The government needed money. The shipbuilding trade being quite insignificant at that time, the works made very slow progress, and an iron steamer of only about 200 tons was the principal vessel built in the three years after the purchase. This, however, was followed shortly afterward by three steel steamers each of 700 gross tons, and also in 1895 by a steel steamer of 1,530 gross tons, the Suma Maru, the largest steel merchant ship built in Japan at that time.

In 1895 the Nippon Yusen Kaisha wanted six steamers of 6,000 tons each for its European line which was then proposed. The Mitsubishi Company went after the business; it was a daring thing to do; the Mitsubishi Dockyard had built a few steamers of 700 tons for the Osaka Commercial Steamship Company before; but that was about its record. The bidding for the contract to build the 6,ooo-ton steamers was so daring that it bordered dangerously on the comical, and the giving of the contract to such a concern called for a courage that was hardly to be dreamed of among the capitalists of the conservative West.

Happily for the fate of the shipbuilding enterprises in Nippon and for the Mitsubishi people, there were two men on the board of directors of the great steamship company who were very much greater than mere business men. One of them was not only the most powerful stockholder of the steamship company, but also the ablest financier in the Far East to-day- Baron Shibusawa. The contract to build two out of the six ships was given to the Mitsubishi people. They did not make much money at this job. They took their profit in coin of different complexion. Through this initial and expensive work the engineers., draughtsmen, and workmen in the employ of the Mitsubishi Dockyard received an invaluable training, and indeed it was not long before they began coining a deal of good money out of their experience. Somewhat later the industry began to take on great activity, and in 1898 a 6 000-ton steel steamer, the Hitachi Maru was turned out. From 1898 to 1904 the Mitsubishi, the Kawasaki Shipbuilding Company, the Osaka Iron Works and a few others have built thirty steamers above 1,000 tons.

The number of unofficial shipbuilding yards, in 1905, was 216 yards and 42 docks, the principal being the Mitsubishi Docks at Nagasaki (established in 1886), the Kawasaki Docks at K5be, the Uraga Docks, and the Yokohama Docks (the two last established in 1896). Ships aggregating 47,000 tons were built in these various yards in 1902, whereas those built in 1898 had aggregated 24,000 tons only. The Mitsubishi Dockyard built nine ships of 14,000 tons and repaired ninetyfour ships of 185,400 tons in 1908. The ss. Tango Maru, built at this dock to order of the Nippon Yusin Kaisha, is the largest ship in the East belonging to any Japanese company, her tonnage being 7500 gross tons. The building of a vessel of such size in our own dockyard is worthy of special notice in connection with the history of shipbuilding in the East. The total number of private docks in Japan was 42 in 1905. That of the Mitsubishi is 722 ft. in length and 88 ft. in width, being the largest in Japan. The Kawasaki Docks, the Uraga, and the Yokohama are next in size to the Mitsubishi. The Mitsu Bishi Dockyard and Engine Works at Nagasaki, the largest in 1907 and oldest shipbuilding establishment in Japan, consisted at that time of the engine works at Akuno'ura, the shipyard and dry docks at Tategami, and the patent slip at Kosuge. By 1907 the works had been very much improved by enormous extensions, most of the old shops have been rebuilt, many new buildings erected, and a large number of modern machines added. It has now a water frontage of about 8 000 ft., and the premises cover nearly 80 acres. There are three dry docks, measuring, respectively, 350, 510 and 714 ft. in length on the keel blocks, and a patent slip 750 ft. long on the rail, and also eight building berths ranging from 170 to 700 ft. Ships having a gross tonnage of more than 20 000 tons can be constructed by these works in one year.

By 1910 the Mitsu Bishi Dockyard and Engine Works, of Nagasaki, was one of the largest and best equipped shipbuilding plants in the Orient, and its dry docks can accommodate any vessel now on the Pacific. There were three graving docks, the largest of which is 722 feet long; breadth on bottom at entrance, 88 feet; and depth of water on the blocks at high-water spring tides, 345 feet. The smaller docks are 523 feet and 371 feet long, respectively. When working full time and sufficient work on the stocks and in dock, the shipyard employed 8,000 to 10,000 hands.

The works was transferred to the control of Mitsubishi Shipbuilding & Engineering Company, Ltd. in 1917. By 1918 the shipbuilding and engineering company owned the Nagasaki, Kobe and Hikoshima dockyards and was engaged in building merchant steamers and battleships, in docking, and in the manufacture of engines, boilers, electrical machinery, steam turbines, etc. It was the largest undertaking of its kind in the East. Shipowners, as well as the general public, fully acknowledged the excellence of their workmanship and thorough attention to details, in which respect the company catered to the requirements of its patrons. The Toyo Kisen Kaisha steamships, "Tenyo Maru" and "Shinyo Maru", triumphs of Japanese naval architecture, furnish ample evidence of this.

This shipbuilding business was later turned into Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., and was again launched as Mitsubishi Heavy-Industries, Ltd. in 1934, establishing its position as the largest private firm in Japan, manufacturing ships, heavy machinery, airplanes, and railroad cars. The foundry of the works was separated in 1937 and renamed Nagasaki Steel Works of Mitsubishi Steel Manufacturing Co., Ltd.

In 1950 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. divided into three companies. Kobe Works newly started as Central Japan Heavy Industries,Ltd. In 1952 the Company was renamed Shin Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. In 1960 the Akashi branch plant was opened to start manufacturing construction machinery. In 1962 the Takasago branch plant started exclusively for turbines. And in 1964 the current Mitsubishi Heavy Industries started by integrating then-existing three Mitsubishi-affiliated heavy industries. The three independent companies of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, decentralized in 1950, were merged again into one company under the name of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., and the Nagasaki works was renamed the Nagasaki Shipyard & Engine Works.

Nagasaki Shipyard & Machinery Works has built a number of excellent passenger ships, oil tankers, LNG carriers, LPG carriers, cargo ships, bulk carriers, escort ships, etc. for the seafaring all over the world. Capitalizing on our wealth of shipbuilding technology and experiences accumulated for more than a century, engineering efforts are now being focused on the construction of high-technology / high-quality, or high-value-added ships, fuel-efficient ships, super-modern ships, and luxury cruise passenger ships, the last being increasingly in heavy demand. Particular emphasis is also placed on the development of high-speed product carriers.

When Mitsubishi produced its first large cruise ship, it lost 100 percent of the contract price (i.e., its cost was twice what it was paid). Some loss was expected because the company was buying into the market. This risk eventually paid off when Princess Cruise Lines offered Mitsubishi contracts for two large ships. Small shipbuilders do not have the financial depth to sustain such losses.

The Nagasaki Shipyard is made up of two plants. The Main Plant, which began as a foundry in 1855 and is one of the oldest shipbuilding facilities in Japan, and the Koyagi Plant, which is one of the newest and most modern. The two plants have the capability to build ships ranging from small escort vessels for the Japanese Navy to tankers and bulk carriers of 1,000,000 dwt. In addition to these, they also build steel structures, bridges, oil drilling rig jackets and other marine structures.

The development of quality work groups started in the early 1970s at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., Nagasaki Shipyard. The application of Performance Maintenance (PM) leadership theories and the principles of group dynamics were used in the shipyard to address the critical safety problems. The Shipbuilding Departments of the company have strongly promoted the improvement of welding techniques, especially the automation of welding processes. Mitsubishi is proud of the fact that by the early 1980s the 5 shipyards owned by the company had the highest percentage of automated welding in the whole Japanese shipbuilding industry.

The Kobe Shipyard & Machinery Works Shipbuilding Division specializes in the construction of high-value-added ships, induding container ships, passenger ships, and submarines. The works also boasts state-of-the-art technologies for ship repair and conversion.

The Shimonoseki Shipyard & Machinery Works Shipbuilding Division specializes in building special-purpose ships such as cable laying and ocean research ships, luxury ferry boats, and high-speed boats. These ships are to be found plying the seas of the world.

The Yokohama Machinery Works, located in the center of Yokohama city, and having good sea and land access within 2 hours from the ports in Tokyo bay, the Yokohama Machinery Works undertakes variety of work related to the repair, conversion, and periodical and intermediate surveys of LNG carriers, LPG carriers, work vessels, ocean structures. Meeting the advanced technology required to perform these tasks, the dockyard is constantly ranked at the top of the ship repair industry.

The Shipbuilding Division has delivered LNG carriers (Moss type / Membrane type), LPG carriers and VLCCs (Very Large Crude oil Carriers) that support the transportation of energy resources and a new generation Container carriers that support the global logistics, utilizing our advanced shipbuilding expertise acquired through the production of various large-sized ships that spans more than a century. Furthermore, Mitsubishi has built such luxurious cruise ships, high speed passenger ferries and a pure car carriers.

Mitsubishi's shipbuilding complex in Nagasaki features the world's longest shipyard dock (1 km in length). It is the only facility in Japan that builds large-sized passenger cruise ships, including two completed in 2004 (the 116,000 ton "Diamond Princess" and "Sapphire Princess"). Mitsubishi Heavy Industry also produces various kinds of power generating equipment, and the Nagasaki facility is Japan's only maker of wind turbine generators.

In Japan, all the companies involved in naval shipbuilding have multiple yards, although they take different approaches to isolatingtheir naval work. Mitsubishi begins the construction of its naval shipsin a small dedicated yard and does so in relatively small blocks that are pre-outfitted only with piping. Mitsubishi constructs hulls for warships in a small, traditional shipyard with end launching ways. After traditional, inclined launch, the hulls are towed about 8-15 miles to the main Nagasaki shipyard, where they are completed. This process serves to keep Mitsubishi's warship building as separate as it can be from its other shipbuilding activities.

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Page last modified: 04-08-2012 19:03:27 ZULU