A shipyard (also called a dockyard) is a place where ships are built and repaired. These can be yachts, military vessels, cruise liners or other cargo or passenger ships. Dockyards are sometimes more associated with maintenance and basing activities than shipyards, which are sometimes associated more with initial construction. The terms are routinely used interchangeably, in part because the evolution of dockyards and shipyards has often caused them to change or merge roles.
Countries with large shipbuilding industries include Croatia, China, South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, France, Russia, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Ukraine, Finland, Denmark, Australia, India, Brazil, Taiwan, Romania, Poland. The shipbuilding industry tends to be more fragmented in Europe than in Asia. In European countries there are a greater number of small companies, compared to the fewer, larger companies in the shipbuilding countries of Asia.
Most shipbuilders in the United States are privately owned, the largest being Colonna's Shipyard in Norfolk, VA. The publicly owned shipyards in the US are Naval facilities providing basing, support and repair.
Shipyards are constructed nearby the sea or tidal rivers to allow easy access for their ships. In the United Kingdom, for example, shipyards were established on the River Thames (King Henry VIII founded yards at Woolwich and Deptford in 1512 and 1513 respectively), River Mersey, River Tees, River Tyne, River Wear and River Clyde – the latter growing to be the World's pre-eminent shipbuilding centre.
Sir Alfred Yarrow established his yard by the Thames in London's Docklands in the late 19th century before moving it northwards to the banks of the Clyde at Scotstoun (1906–08). Other famous UK shipyards include the Harland and Wolff yard in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where Titanic was built, and the naval dockyard at Chatham, England on the Medway in north Kent.
The site of a large shipyard will contain many specialised cranes, dry docks, slipways, dust-free warehouses, painting facilities and extremely large areas for fabrication of the ships.
After a ship's useful life is over, it makes its final voyage to a shipbreaking yard, often on a beach in South Asia. Historically shipbreaking was carried on in drydock in developed countries, but high wages and environmental regulations have resulted in movement of the industry to developing regions.