U.S. shipbuilding productivity is significantly less than that of Japan and some European countries. The traditional view has either minimized the importance of the difference in productivity between U.S. and the best foreign shipyards, or focused on the lack of opportunities for U.S. yards to build in long series. As a result of research since 1977—much of it conducted under the auspices of the Maritime Administration National Shipbuilding Research Program—a new view of the productivity difference has developed. Several studies have established that the productivity difference is very large. A number of studies have related this difference to new methods and systems of shipbuilding developed abroad. Based on a review of the literature, this study describes these methods and systems and examines obstacles to their adoption in the United States. Implications for public policy are discussed. Some current efforts of U.S. shipbuilders to improve productivity and Maritime Administration and Navy programs of technology promotion are referenced.

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