The contract has been signed, the celebratory dinner's tables cleared and the dignitaries have departed. With the commercial phase going into a short hiatus, the job of actually building the ship begins.
Few shipping companies have the resources to manage a ship building project from end to end, and rely on specialist supervision contracters to oversee the design, build and commissioning. The supervisor fulfils the roles of bush lawyer and technical expert to interpret the specification's transformation into the finished ship. It starts with plan approval, when the detailed drawings are submitted by the Builders for review and comment. This phase draws in practical experience of ship operation, identifying weak points or ergonomic problems which will make the ship difficult to maintain and operate in service.
The size and composition of the site supervision team depends on the number and complexity of the build programme. The team supervising PN65 and her sisters cover the disciplines of steel fabrication, paint coatings, machinery, electrical and site safety - 14 in all at the peak of the programme. Using the subtle arts of persuation and the occasional row, the Supervisors ensure that the quality promised in the contract is delivered to the Owners in the finished product.
The photo is of a hull block for PN67, RTM Cartier, for which the mark ups illustrate the detail of inspection and rectification works taking place before the block is taken off to the blasting shop for painting. The site team itself is a transitory band of itinerant multi-nationals who, after the final ship has been delivered, will dissipate to the four winds with an eye to the next job.