Cammell Laird Opens Ship Production Line
A new, large enclosed ship production facility has just been officially opened in England by Cammell Laird, part of the stateowned British Shipbuilders group, with headquarters on the River Mersey. Opening ceremonies were performed by Princess Anne, who by pressing a button lifted the keel section onto the slipway of the facility, which it was said could build vessels much like squeezing toothpaste out of a tube. The first ship under construction is a Royal Navy destroyer, but ships as big as 130,000 dwt could be manufactured in the enclosed area. Costing £33 million ($60 million), the plant uses an extruding technique whereby ships under construction are progressively jacked down the production line onto a steeply sloping launch slipway. Prefabricated units weighing as much as 250 tons are assembled on the line and gradually moved down as further sections are added. On the slipway, the superstructure is added and the ship outfitted.
To maintain factory conditions, the gable through which the vessels are extruded can be sealed by large sliding doors 26 meters high (about 85 feet), adjustable to the width of the vessel, and guillotining-type doors adjustable to the height of the vessel, above the slipway. Vertical access is achieved by escalators and transverse access across the vessel by moving bridges.