Few naval vendors manage to pierce US and European protectionism

ROME, LONDON and COLOGNE, Germany The U.S. and European shipbuilding industries lead largely separate lives against the backdrop of a massive Asian naval buildup, but some trans-Atlantic projects still manage to thrive.

The building of warships has always been a prime example of nations nurturing a highly specialized industry deemed so crucial that outside economic forces cannot be allowed to intervene. And while some European nations have begun to think about pooling shipbuilding forces on the continent, analysts and industry executives in Europe say the wall separating the U.S. and European naval markets remains high.

Barring missile launchers and the Aegis combat management system, U.S. firms have not grabbed a large slice of naval work in Europe, and no change is on the horizon, according to Peter Roberts, director of military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute in London.

Warships are historically linked to national power, and if you stop building them you are no longer seen as a great power you are at the bidding of others, Roberts said.

The Spanish, the British, the French they havent given up shipbuilding, even if they were better off buying off the shelf, and we are unlikely to see a reduction of yards in Europe, he added.

At the same time, the U.S. market has been relatively closed off to European shipbuilders, though there is a chance that could change somewhat with the Navys Future Frigate program.

Its a bit like two different planets, said Sebasti....

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