Jutting out of the clutter of Hamburg's docks is a giant rooftop sign that pinpoints the location of the big, busy Schliekerwerft. The yard is named after its owner, tough Willy Schlieker, who operates a worldwide complex of 15 shipyards, steel mills and trading companies with a yearly gross of $150 million. At 45, Moneymaker Schlieker is the youngest of postwar Germany's Wirtschaftswunder-knaben (economic wonderboys).

Last week he was busy filling orders for 15 ore carriers, bulk carriers, tankers and escort vessels for U.S. companies and the German navy. His ultramodern yard sends ships down the ways so fast that...

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