It was inevitable that the great British maritime predominance of 1914 would be undermined as other nations established or expanded their own maritime industries. That competition became significant in the inter-war period, but the chief reason for the relative decline of the British maritime industries in those years was the collapse of world trade. After the Second World War world trade grew rapidly and so did foreign competition. The failure of the British maritime industries to adapt to this new reality was mainly due to internal constraints, to industrial structures and practices still little changed from the pre-1914 period. Only in the second half of the 1960s, with government support, did shipping, shipbuilding and the ports begin to modernise, and additional new openings were offered to them by the growing oil and gas industry in the North Sea. Yet internal constraints had barely been addressed when the world shipping and shipbuilding markets collapsed after 1975. By the 1980s it was clear that government was no longer willing to pour money into supporting the maritime industries, and they were left to the mercy of the open market. For 400 years the maritime industries had been considered of vital importance to Britain, but by 1990 that no longer seemed to be the government view.
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