Ship-building in Hong Kong

Hong Kong once had a thriving shipbuilding industry. Scattered over Junk Bay (now Tseung Kwan O), Tsing Yi, Aberdeen and as far as Cheung Chau and Lantau island, dozens of shipyards produced traditional Chinese  wooden crafts, mostly sailing junks and sampans. The largest of them all, the famous Whampoa, operated several shipyards across the colony, dedicated to repairing passing freighters and passenger ships as well as building  western-style vessels such as Wayfoong (Aberdeen, 1930), Java (1932) and in the 1950s,  the Star Ferries. Cheoy Lee, on the other hand, specialised in the construction of medium-sized working boats and leisure crafts, such as the splendid Rapid Transit (1984)

The advent of fiberglass in the sixties and seventies did not put an immediate end to wooden boat construction as it did  in Europe and North America. The doom of Hong Kong’s wooden ships came twenty years later, in the late nineties, when Mainland shipyards started producing fiberglass vessels in Zhuhai at a fraction of the cost.

Nowadays, Hong Kong’s shrinking wooden fleet is maintained by a handful of shipyards in Shum Wan and Ap Lei Chau, such as the famous Sun Hing Shing, the builders of Man Wah (1980).


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