Saturday, March 8, 2014

Canada's shipbuilding program billions over budget - before building any ships!

I'm waiting for the politicians to blame the wage demands of the folks in coveralls for these cost overruns, even though it appears there's been precious little building of ships in the much bally-hooed shipbuilding program.

In his article Mr. Milewski approvingly notes the decision by the Royal Navy to outsource construction of new navy vessels to South Korea. That's a stunning come-down for an empire that once ruled the seven seas, isn't it? Thanks to Mrs. Thatcher's policy of de-industrialization, the UK can no longer build her own battleships.

Then again, why would you want to, when South Korean industry can build them so much cheaper? If you think that's due to Daewoo and Samsung paying third world wages, you'd be wrong. According to this article from Shippingwatch shipyard workers in South Korea have achieved virtual wage parity with American and British workers.

The efficiency advantage for the Koreans obviously comes from somewhere else, and that can only be the management side. It is abundantly clear that the Canadian "procurement process" is wildly top-heavy with planners, analysts, and consultants of all stripes busily creating busy-work for one another.

Not much has changed from the Saint John Shipbuilding days. All our work was supposedly coordinated by "planners" whose job it was to ensure that work progressed seamlessly. What a hoot that was!

You could spend most of a shift trying to hunt down the "planner" responsible for your daily debacle, and then try to explain why it was impossible to install this or that part because one end attached to a module already in the drydock while the other attached to one still in the mod shop. By and large these folks were university educated but didn't know anything about either ships or metal fabrication. It was a non-stop clusterfuck, and productivity would have shot through the roof had Mr. Irving found it within himself to fire the lot of them.

I strongly suspect that many of them have now found employment doing "planning" for Canada's latest shipbuilding program.

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