Nagasaki, Japan- Mitsubishi

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November 19th 2014
Published: November 19th 2014
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Crane at Mitsubishi PlantCrane at Mitsubishi PlantCrane at Mitsubishi Plant

Shipbuilding in Nagasaki
Nagasaki, Japan-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ship Manufacturing Facility

Can you imagine, we are back in Nagasaki, Japan? Since we already visited Ground Zero and the Peace Park, we are going to do something totally different and go on a tour of the shipbuilding plant where the ship we are on now, the Sapphire Princess was built.

We turn in our names at the tour desk so the Mitsubishi can run security checks on each person taking the tour. Later in the day we get our tickets, so I guess we passed ;-)

Our tour will take us to two Mitsubishi plants; one across the harbor from where our ship is docked and the other a few miles away at another harbor. We first were told, “No pictures” in any of the areas except the museum. We started at the museum building where we followed the history of the company, since it’s founding in the 1850’s. Mitsubishi started out as a ship repair shop. They grew and grew. The have been building small and very large ships for 150 years! Unbelievably, in 2004, they built the ship we are on, the Sapphire Princess. How
Wind turbines from Tehachapi, CaliforniaWind turbines from Tehachapi, CaliforniaWind turbines from Tehachapi, California

Cope's company poured the concrete bases for the wind turbines.
interesting to see pictures of the ship we are cruising on in a historical museum here in japan. Mitsubishi built two ships for Princess at the same time, the Diamond Princess and the Sapphire Princess. At one point, there was a major fire on one of the hulls and they ended up switching hulls, and the Sapphire basic hull is really what started our as the hull for the Diamond Princess.

The museum was really interesting. We saw pictures and descriptions of most of the ships they have built since its inception, including some of those for WW II. Mitsubishi is the third largest ship manufacturer in the world and, obviously, is the largest facility in Japan and Asia. One fun thing we saw in the museum is the wind turbine blades on display that Mitsubishi manufactured for the wind farms in Tehachapi Ca. In 1989. Cope’s ready mix concrete company poured most of the concrete bases for the windmills. He loved seeing the turbine blades and the commentary on them in the museum!

The size of the ship manufacturing facility is staggering-there are multiple cranes that can lift 600 tons and one overhead
Hillside suburb of Nagasaki, JapanHillside suburb of Nagasaki, JapanHillside suburb of Nagasaki, Japan

Looking toward the harbor
crane that lifts 1200 tons-incredible. Our tour guide asked us to guess how large the Mitsubishi logo was at the top of one of these large cranes… nobody guessed right, all the guesses were too small. The logo itself is the size of a tennis court ;-) On the grounds they have truck transports that haul portions of hulls and superstructures that weigh 600 tons. These behemoths are 24 axle trucks that have 88 tires on them. Can you imagine? We saw them moving a gigantic portion of a hull around the facility.

There ae two Mitsubishi ship manufacturing facilities in Nagasaki-the old one has been in use since 1876, and the museum is housed in an original building from that time-the building was constructed of red brick and massive timbers shipped from the USA!

The new plant has been in operation for 30 years and the amount of equipment surrounding the dry docks where ships are being built goes on and on. The two plants are on opposite sides of Nagasaki Bay and are both huge facilities. The larger plant employs close to 4000 employees.

We were bused up to a viewing point where we could look straight at new ship they were working on. Work was progressing on the basic infrastructure of a mammoth new cruise ship, the “Aida Prima” on order by Carnival Cruise line. It is unbelievably huge and will carry 3500 passengers and over 2000 crew. It is due to be finished in 2015. It carries 1000 more passengers and weighs more than 10,000 tones than the Sapphire Princess. There were workers bustling all over the ship with lots of work on the steel structure progressing.

The original plant in operation during WW II was saved by destruction by a small mountain that lies between where the atomic bomb exploded and the plant. Because of this, the amount of damage to the actual facility was minimal. But, of course, all of the laborers working in the plant were hugely affected as was the entire economy of the area. The plant was shut down from 1945 until early in 1950 when it again began to build ships.

Their customers continue to be from all over the world and their current specialties, or at least as on the moment, are building cruise ships and Liquid Natural Gas super tankers, one of which was under construction as we drove by. One recently completed LNG tanker was launched recently and is undergoing final testing. This was as fascinating a tour as we’ve ever taken. Next time you take a cruise ask where you ship was built! We did get to takes a few photo’s from the mountain next to the plant overlooking Nagasaki bay and the town.

Next: Back to Shanghai- Shanghaied in Shanghai, China


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