Shipbuilding is a highly complex process involving the coordination of thousands of people and parts. Within the process, there are a few key milestones to indicate if a project is on track. Keel-laying is one of these milestones and marks the second step in the construction of a ship.
In traditional shipbuilding the keel is first laid in a drydock as one long continuos piece of steel spanning from the bow to the stern of the future vessel and serves as the foundation or spine of the structure. Then later, steel is cut, heated and bent into shape and welded to the keel to serve as the foundation of the vessel. Today, however,vessels are built in large sections called megablocks . Most modern ships still have keels contained within these megabucks but, rather than being laid down first, the megablocks – and the keel within them – are moved close together and welded together to form a complete ship.
Here’s a time lapse video showing the modern process. The vessel is the Investigator, a science research vessel being built by Teekay for Australia’s national science agency CSIRO. The ship, being built in Singapore by Teekay’s partner Sembawang Shipyard, is scheduled to begin operating by mid 2013. It was given the name RV Investigator after a national naming competition. The 89-metre ship will be able to accommodate 40 scientists and cover 10,000 nautical miles in each voyage.
The vessel will be used by Australian universities, research organisations and their international collaborators to undertake vital marine research that will inform our sustainable ocean management practices.