Country Listing

Spain Table of Contents



During the economic expansion of the 1960s and the early 1970s, Spain became one of the world's leaders in shipbuilding, ranking third in 1974. Its shipbuilding industry was one of the few major industries in the country that made no use of foreign capital. Shipbuilding, both in Spain and among other shipbuilding nations, was however, one of the main casualties of the post-1974 energy crisis; following a sharp drop in orders in the late 1970s, the shipbuilding sector was in serious difficulty. Among Spain's leading industries, it was one of those most affected by production cutbacks, closings, and reductions in personnel. The number of shipbuilding yards able to build steel-hulled vessels declined from forty-three in 1975 to thirty, ten years later.

In the mid-1980s, more than half Spain's shipbuilding capacity was located in Cadiz; other major shipyards in the south were at Seville (Spanish, Sevilla) and Cartagena. In the north, important shipyards were located at El Ferrol del Caudillo and in the province of Vizcaya. The shipbuilding industry was dominated by two state-owned firms, both belonging to the INI group, and in 1986 each had about 12,000 employees. One company, Empresa Nacional Bazan de Construcciones Navales Militares (generally referred to as Bazan), constructed military vessels. The other, Astilleros Espanoles, SA (AESA), constructed civilian ships. The next three largest firms employed a total of 4,000 persons.

After years of decline and heavy losses, in 1987 the Spanish shipbuilding industry turned the corner, showing strong gains in the construction of vessels from small- to medium-size. In 1987 deliveries totaled 340,000 compensated gross registered tons, 90,000 tons more than in 1985 or 1986. Solid increases in foreign orders were exceeded by domestic demand. Rigorous restructuring measures undertaken in the 1980s were believed to have prepared the industry for the upsurge in orders on the world market that was expected in the early 1990s.

Data as of December 1988