April 25, 2017

Japan & US - No submarine building Unions? But the Most Efficient?

I’ve been doing a bit of research on  Japanese and US submarine building industries.

Japan has built submarines almost uninterrupted since 1906. That interruption occurring 1945-1957 when Japan was devastated by bombs and a US submarine blockade.

Japan has two large submarine building companies:
-  the conglomerate Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) (see a MHI built submarine), and

-  Kawasaki Shipbuilding Corporation (KSC) of the KHI conglomerate, See a Kawasaki submarine website.

They form a submarine building duopoly in the port city of Kobe, with each company continuous building one submarine every two years with launches occurring alternatly and rigidly every October to December. For the on-time, on-budget, schedule see the SORYU-Oyashio TABLE.

The structure of Japanese shipbuilding unions is quite complex, starting with likely extinct Japanese shipbuilding union "Zenzosen". Ztev Konrad advises (comments 25/4/17 8:12 AM below) from Wikipedia "Zenzōsen [the All Japan Shipbuilding and Engineering Union] is a federation of individual, enterprise-level unions - the normal model of trades unionism in Japan. It was initially the dominant union in the Japanese shipbuilding industry, but was [dissolved on September 9, 2016] eventually eclipsed by the Jūki Rōren (Japanese Federation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Workers' Unions). Zenzōsen was the more militant of the two unions, and was more strongly represented at the smaller shipyards. Zenzōsen was affiliated to the Japanese Socialist Party." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zenz%C5%8Dsen "Pete was on the right track with likely company unions dominating the sub shipyards."

In that direction S advises (comments 25/4/17 9:24 PM) that there are two worker’s unions (KHI Worker’s Union, Federation of Worker’s Union of the KHI Group of companies). The KHI Worker’s Union consists of 9 branches. Workers of KHI Kobe Shipyard belong to KHI Kobe branch.
S continues that information on MHI workers’s unions is not clear. Workers of MHI's Kobe Shipyard belong to the MHI Kobe Shipbuilding Branch.
The workers’s unions of KHI and MHI both belong to the Japanese Federation of Basic Industry Worker’s Union (JBU). JBU is an industrial union confederation of 400 worker’s unions with 251,965 members (source is Japanese wikipedia)."

I am guessing the submarine building workforces of MHI and KSC are around 1,000 each (2,000 total). Perhaps the Japanese Ministry of Defense and ATLA (a sub example) have 1,000 staff total dedicated to submarine research, contracts, production and availability?
Along with the US Japan might be the most efficient submarine builder in the world. This comes from:
1.  duopoly conditions (a government can always favour the competing company)
2.  continuous build (Japan building one SSK every year and the US building 1 to 2 SSNs)
3.  long runs of submarines with relatively few changes eg. few differences between the 10 Soryu
     Mk. 1s (see TABLE) and between the first 39! Los Angeles SSNs, and
4,  only building subs for one customer (US or Japanese) in their own navies.

Or perhaps other counties are more efficient by other measures such as:
-  country A achieving greater economies of scale, through production for foreigners, than A's 
   domestic demand can provide, or
-  raising foreign exchange through sales to foreign customers.

It takes the large, wealthy US economy to build an SSN or two each year (and eventually one Columbia class SSBN as well). The USSR used to churn out nuclear submarines at that rate but this was a major contributor to the ruination of its economy. China still cannot afford it or is dissatisfied with its SSNs' quality, prefering to mass produce SSKs instead.

A Japanese Soryu submarine being launched, with much fanfare, in Kobe.

---


A Virginia class SSN under construction at Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc - Newport News. Note the propulsor about a mile back, in the distance :)
---

Pete

11 comments:

Anonymous said...


Hi Pete

All Japan Shippulding and Engineering Union dissolved in September/9/2016.

Regards
S

Ztev Konrad said...

Wipedia adds some depth to the story of Zenzosen
"Zenzōsen is a federation of individual, enterprise-level unions - the normal model of trades unionism in Japan. It was initially the dominant union in the Japanese shipbuilding industry, but was eventually eclipsed by the Jūki Rōren (Japanese Federation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Workers' Unions). Zenzōsen was the more militant of the two unions, and was more strongly represented at the smaller shipyards. Zenzōsen was affiliated to the Japanese Socialist Party."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zenz%C5%8Dsen
Pete was on the right track with likely company unions dominating the sub shipyards.

Peter Coates said...

Thanks S

I'll note "All Japan Shippulding and Engineering Union dissolved in September/9/2016" in the text.

So are there any Mitsubishi or Kawasaki shipbuilding workers (or white-collar designers) who are in Japanese unions?

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Ztev

Thanks for the details.

I'll integrate them in the article text.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...


Hi Pete

There are two worker’s unions (KHI worker’s union, Federation of worker’s union of KHI group companies) in KHI. The former consists of 9 branches, and workers of KHI Kobe Plant belong to KHI Kobe branch.

Information on Workers’s union of MHI is not clear. Workers of MHI Kobe Factory belongs to MHI Kobe shipbuilding branch.

Both workers’s unions of KHI and MHI belong to Japanese Federation of Basic Industry Worker’s Union (JBU) [1].

[1] JBU is industrial union and consists of 400 woker’с unions and 251965 people (wiki/JPN).

Regards
S

MHalblaub said...

Some figures

Since the Uzushio-class (1968) Japan did built about 44 submarines until today.
The US did built 62 Los Angeles, 3 Seawolf, 13 Virginia and 18 Ohio. In sum around 95 submarines since 1970.
France built or supported 13 Agosta, 4 Scorpène, 6 Redoutable, 4 Triomphant, 6 Rubis (25 Daphné were built until 1973). About 33 submarines since 1973 for France. No Suffren/Barracuda is finished yet.
Germany supported the build of 61 Type 209, 6 Type 210, 10 Type 212A, 13 Type 214 and 5 Dolphin. About 95 submarines since 1970. I excluded the older Type 205/206 built until 1975.

I counted only already finished submarines (independent commissioned or not).

Of the 33 French submarines 13 were exports. 8 more Scorpène and 6 Suffren/Barracuda are expected.
Germany exported all submarines except 6. On order are 3 more Type 209 for Egypt and several Type 214, one Dolphin and 2 Type 212 for Germany.


It is hard to compare efficiency for costume build export submarines by France and Germany with local projects in the US or Japan.

I guess that most of French and German workers are unionized.

Regards,
MHalblaub

Peter Coates said...

Thanks S [at 25/4/17 9:24 PM]

I've added your info to the article.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Uniquenss of J-submarine is continual improvement by frequent model change as many as 13 times [1]. Also, in the same class, every batch has slightly improved than former batch. For example, under building batch of Soryu MKI, SS-510 is better than first batch, SS-501.

[1] Simple list of Japanese submarine
Kuroshio(SS-501,USS Mingo lending from USA), Oyashio I (SS-511), Hayashio-class (SS-521,522), Natsushio-class(SS-523,524), Oshio (SS-561), Asashio-class (SS-562, 563, 564, 565), Uzushio-class (SS-566~572), Yshio-class(SS-573~582), Harushio-class(SS-582~589), Oyshio II-class (SS590~600), Soryu-class MKI (SS-501~510), Soryu-class MKII (SS-511,512, under building), 29SS (under building), Asahio modification by AIP.

Regard
S

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub [at 25/4/17 11:13 PM]

Thanks. Very interesting sets of figures which place the numbers of German and French designed and built submarines higher than Japan but fewer than the US or Russia. How China rates is a question.

I can use the figures as a basis to write an article/snapshot per country/submarine designer/builder per week - starting with Asia-Pacific countries since the early 1970s - US, Russia (borders the Pacific), China, South Korea, North Korea, Japan, Australia. Some countries for distribution to donors only.

Such patterns as batch building vs continuous build, own market and/or foreign markets, "orphan subs" vs broader production. Popular perceptions that the subs and builds were a success or failure.

So many aspects.

Regards

Pete

S O said...

I see no evidence for the claim that the Japanese or U.S. shipyards are the most efficient.

They sure fail to get anywhere near as many export orders through competitive tenders as the European (FRA, GER) ones. In fact, I do not remember any such orders from the post Cold War era.

Peter Coates said...

A useful summary on the Soryu submarine on the US "National Interest" website http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/why-china-fears-japans-super-stealth-soryu-class-submarines-20547

I suspect the author reads Submarine Matters.

With a large contribution from Anonymous Submarine Matters has the most detailed database, in English, on the Soryus.

Pete