Skills for Modern-Day Shipfitters

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The seas haven’t changed, just the materials and strategies used for producing ships. Today’s supertankers, giant cruise ships, warships and one-man kayaks all rely on the skill and craft of trained shipbuilders and shipfitters. Thousands of years ago, men went to sea with vessels made of animal hides and logs, lashed with fiber- rope and sealed with tree resin caulk. As tools and methods advanced, so did the field of shipbuilding. Throughout history shipbuilders have experimented with various woods and keels to achieve endurance and speed. The Greeks even added oar-decks to increase agility in tight harbors and getaway speed into the open seas without having to rely on the winds.

Changing Shipfitting Techniques and Traditions

Kingdoms rose and fell on the skills of shipbuilders for trade and war. The history of shipfitting is the story of merchant shipping, travel, and weapons deployment. Then and now, every rivet, welded seam, turbine, porthole, water system, light and communications system, food storage and preparation, and ballast and cargo bays had to be imagined, engineered, tested, developed and proven sea worthy. Today’s tests are done with advanced monitoring of water tests and sea-readiness on small-scale models followed by building full-sized ships. Ship building courses offer theory as well as hands-on vocational training programs for someone interested in carrying on the tradition.

Ship Repair and Maintenance at Sea

Some maintenance and refitting is done on the ship during voyages, while other tasks are handled at ports while traveling between destinations. Major shipfitting work and repairs require land-based cranes and blocking to raise the ship from the water so that the hull can be exposed and inspected and accessed. Every shipfitter in a shipyard is trained for weatherproof reliability.

Ship Building Courses Offer Training in Emerging Shipfitting Trends

Worldwide, hundreds of thousands of people work in both ship construction and repair, employed by government or civilian shipyards. Fitters fabricate, assemble and man ship and docking structures. Shipfitters are also responsible for hydro and air testing of tanks and compartments. Some specialize in cabinetry, fitting fine wood decking, railings and carvings which modern cruise ships prefer. Others learn how ship design can affect both radar-vulnerability and stability in high seas. Some workers specialize on fixed-tanks and sonar domes. Others guide heavy machinery, including cranes. Steel work is done with massive shears, punches, drill presses. Fitters use power presses which can exert up to 750 tons to mold and fit the pieces into a completed ship.

Shipfitters Assemble a Variety of Vessels

Cruise ships twice the size of Titanic offer comfort and recreation for 7000 persons aboard. Cruise fitters specialize in fiberglass and other modern, lightweight materials which help eliminate bulk and heaviness. Some huge international shipyards specialize only in ocean-going supertankers. Others create smaller craft, creating or dry-docking and refitting classic wooden vessels, personal watercraft, canoes and kayaks. Trained shipfitters make sure every vessel, no matter the type, has a safe journey.

Have You Considered a Career in the Skilled Trades?

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