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The Santiago I, a cargo ship still under construction, has been abandoned by striking workers at the Uljanik dd shipyard in Pula, Croatia.

The Santiago I, a cargo ship still under construction, has been abandoned by striking workers at the Uljanik dd shipyard in Pula, Croatia.

Photographer: Oliver Bunic/Bloomberg

China Is a Dying European Shipbuilder’s Last Hope

More than 8,000 workers once built warships in this 163-year-old yard. Now it’s struggling to find a way forward.

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Its portholes without glass and covered in rust and seagull guano, the Santiago I tanker sits moored in the Adriatic Sea abandoned by striking shipyard workers who haven’t been paid for eight months.

At the next dock, a Belgian dredger is partly enshrouded in scaffolding, though with no one around to finally make it seaworthy. Towering overhead, a crane has nothing to hoist. Such is the state of another one of Europe’s historic shipbuilding centers that finds itself at risk of extinction, unable to compete with Asia and desperate for investment.