For those in the Scandinavian shipbuilding industry, Michael Lauridsen doesn’t need an introduction. Having worked in the field for decades, Michael is well-known and valued for his priceless knowledge and experience. Countless projects have taken Michael all over the world to work on world-famous vessels, such as The World, the first residencies at sea, and Cunard’s historical Queen Elizabeth II. In this interview, directed by Heiki Aulik of DeRossi, Michael tells us more about his career and his shipbuilding knowhow, including stories straight from the shipyards of QE2 and The World.

“Michael’s sector-based experience and stress tolerance during projects is something exceptional. His knowledge about materials and design awareness makes him one of a kind. I like the way we both act whenever a new and challenging large-scale project is in sight. This is something that creates excitement, puts a sparkle in our eyes, and pushes the team to a new level. He is a great person and personality to work with.”

Heiki Aulik, DeRossi

Heiki Aulik – Michael, you have been in the field of shipbuilding for 40 years and have carried out more than 200 ship projects, which has made you a real shipbuilding expert. You have led projects around the world. How did you get in this field?

Michael Lauridsen – I started my career in 1978 at a shipyard in Denmark as a machinery specialist, then followed work as an on-site manager.

Today I am responsible for head project management and sales at turn-key marine interior solutions company DeRossi.

Why you do what you do and why have you been in the field for so long?

I love the challenge of a tight schedule and prompt decisions, like during refits.

The special thing with bigger refits is that the installation is done in a 1 or 2 month timeframe. In my opinion, refits are way more complicated than newbuilds, especially due to the short timeframe to finish the project.

The main factor for reaching goals is having a good and reliable cooperation with the client, where both parties need to show high level of flexibility as well.

What has been your favourite project and why? Could you share some tips with your colleagues and shipowners on what makes a perfect project where everything runs smoothly?

Hard to say, as there have been so many exciting projects. About 200+ projects, and of course, some I would rather forget.

So, I have no particular favourite project but The World – Residence at Sea and the historical Queen Elizabeth 2, or QE2, were for sure significant – but then so were the numerous years of doing the annual refits for DFDS.

Tell us a bit more about these three …

The World – Residence at Sea is the largest private residential ship on the planet. I was the head on-site manager for building 6,000 m2 of public areas. The World was built in Fosen Yard, Norway, where we have had very good co-operation since 1996.

The historical Queen Elizabeth 2, or QE2, is the world’s most celebrated ocean liner. For a period, I was the on-site-manager for making refurbishments after every 2 years. Not all refits go as planned, which was also the case on one of the QE2 refits in Hamburg. We had to bring workers along to complete the work, as the vessel had to go in traffic. Projects which did not go as planned are also well remembered and a lesson learned.

With the Danish shipowner DFDS, the mutual co-operation and trust was nothing less than outstanding. DFDS has such an experienced project team and they always succeed getting the entire onboard crew involved in the projects, so teamwork for sure is the keyword here. Our people always got a warm welcome onboard, which was highly appreciated. Hopefully, DeRossi can one day be part of the DFDS family again.

What will the near future bring to the cruising and ship industry in your opinion?

There will be some challenges for the entire industry, both for shipowners, shipyards, and interior companies. I think my generation might not have succeeded very well in passing on knowledge and decision-making skills to the next generation and have used the ‘Arh, I’ll do it myself, it’s quicker’ mentality for too long.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I am travelling on projects for most of the year; on spare time, there is only one priority, which is spending valuable time with my family.

Meet DeRossi on the Estonian Marine Initiative stand, booth 102 at Cruise Ship Interiors Expo America. Learn more about sourcing, networking and the conference here.