Missing My Son’s Birthday

This is the first time I have missed my son’s birthday – including his actual birth. It’s not easy – as you can imagine – and as he just had a party for all his classmates here is a little note to him. He can’t read it yet, but when he is old enough…

Note to my son:

I feel terrible that I missed your birthday Dani but there will be more. The plan is(was) that this would be a short-term contract and I could then spend more time with you over the build up to Christmas. I have a plan – well more of an idea really – to work short term contracts and then spend more time with you in between. As I am at the mercy of other companies to employ me for those “short term” contracts it remains to be seen. This is the first. We shall see how it works out…


I am over here in South Korea the shipbuilding capital of the world.

I wish I could bring you here and show you this place. It would be the greatest birthday present a little boy could ever have. Really big boys toys. The huge ships being built and the massive cranes. I just know you would love it.

Once upon a time Spain would probably have been the centre of shipbuilding. Wooden ships in those days of course – in the days of the conquistadores. Not that long ago (in your nana’s lifetime) Great Britain was the capital. Not anymore though. And never would it have been on this scale.

It took me 20 minutes from the security gate by bus to get to the right quay. Even longer going back when you get off at the wrong gate as I did. First day, getting to know my way around etc…This place is like a city in itself. So many half-built (and almost completed) ships of all shapes and sizes. Different but all very large. There were also lots of ship sections (parts of body shape). Like large Lego pieces. I would love to take a photo or two but the security covered my phone lenses with stickers in order to prevent such things.

Each Quay has a large multi storey office (support) centre building. The office I have been left in (quite literally) seats about 500 people and is just one office on one the six floors. A truly immense operation.

It is hardly top secret. You can see the place on google earth (see image below). They just do not want you filming close-up. Understandable.

Despite the immense scale of this place I am told that over the past few years they had reduced the workforce from around 45,000 to 30,000 – an incredible 15 thousand fewer jobs. But those will come back if there is a big demand for new ships the word over. I guess it’s much like other manufacturing industries; car-making for example. It must be cyclic. The world’s demand for ships comes and goes, ebbs and flows even. No pun intended.


On a different note I bought my first pair of glasses the other day. Just before coming over here to work. I definitely need them for reading small detail on drawings. When the writing is too small to be read at arms length then it’s time to use the spectacles. Finally I am like everyone else I know of my age group. The eyes have gone. Well, deteriorated a little. Still, it’s another sign of age.

So in a few weeks I can spend a lot of time with you again. I have only been here one day but already I can’t wait.

DSME Shipyard

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