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Passing on the shipbuilding tradition

It is cold and windy on Öckerö outside Gothenburg. Several ships rest inside the shipyard to be repaired. Eric Karlsson, 24, grew up on the island and has been working in the harbour for about five years. When he was a young he liked to repair and fix - back then he transformed things from the scrap into his own building projects.

   - I have always had an interest in building. First, it was huts to play in but as I grew older I often went to the scrapyard looking for bicycles, welded them and extended the front. The longest was probably 2.5 metres long. I have tinkered with mopeds and motorbikes quite a lot too. I have had great benefit of all that later in life.

Now he is a service mechanic and repairer at the shipyard.

   - I have learned a lot of it myself and I have always had projects going on. Now I am building my own house. I have been wearing workwear around the clock for several years. The work at the shipyard means heavy lifting and many other challenges. Eric tears out old engine rooms, replacing pipes, electricity, water and installing engines. Many elements must be managed and very little is available to read in a manual.

   - Imagine trying to remove two old diesel engines from a ferry. They are hard to lift and we use big iron girders to cope with it. It is a very physical job with a lot of crawling and squeezing in between things. It is like getting through an obstacle course, Sure, it has become easier over the years, but I remember five years ago when I was new here. “I almost panicked when I was in tight spaces or had to lie under an engine”, says Eric and continues:

   - “The toughest can be to drain a boat of aggregate. It is hundreds of tons of pure lead that has to be carried out by hand. Usually it is five-litre plastic containers that are filled with lead, up to 30 kilos at a time. After such a day at work there is no need to go to the gym.”


Name: Eric Karlsson.
Age: 24.
City: Öckerö.
Employer: Övarvet.
Occupation: Service mechanic and repairer.