The Chinese in the ancient past, had a great navy. I believe, this was because, the technology to build warships, did not need investment in many areas of naval development, compared to the extent of the present day. Building ships in ancient China, was primarily concerned with building military use 'Dhow's'. Dhow's were ships used by the Arab's, in the Arabian Peninsula, but the Chinese made use of the ships, by adopting the ship building methods.
What occurred to me is, can navies not develop, instead of in a capital intensive model, rather in a model, which uses less capital? The experience of having a large navy, should make ship building easier, not more difficult. The Han Dynasty, which was prevalent in China in 111 B C E, did not need a great navy, but they built it. Why did they build the navy, if it was not needed? They used their navy, to explore the Indian Ocean, but for little else.
Why did they build such a navy? Perhaps, they built the navy, because they found it easier than others, to do so.
Naval ship-building must be made more cost effective, and simpler. We must develop technology, from current technology, which makes building ships, more effective, by making the process of building ships simpler, not more complex. The process of building ships, should have been made easier, over the many millennia. But, it has not become so. Instead of making weaponry more easy to use, we have, over the years, inducted completely new technology, and made it more difficult for ourselves.
A bullet, works like an arrow, in that it is a projectile aimed to pierce, harm, and kill the enemy, but making a gun, is more difficult than making a bow. Both the arrow, and bullet, perform the same function. Perhaps,we should use the idea, in the development of arms and military hardware.
In the field of science, we have been without aim, not developing what we have, but developing new concepts.
India, in fact, was also a seafaring civilisation in the past. Even more so than the ancient Chinese. In particular, ancient South Indians were very seafaring because much of the wealth of South India depended on the maritime trade between the West (Classical Mediterranean) and India during the early Classical Period (such as the Satavahana dynasty), and later between China and India by way of Indonesia during the late Classical/early Medieval period (such as the Chola dynasty).
However having an ancient tradition in shipbuilding is largely irrelevant in the modern day, with shipbuilding being far more sophisticated and requiring advanced technologies and skilled labour. I would say the only countries that benefit from having a "tradition" in shipbuilding would be the British and perhaps the U.S., as they were pioneers in modern naval design in the 19th century. The shift from wooden frigates to all-metal ironclads and later modern steel warships was a truly remarkable change that set in stone the naval supremacy of the West, which had its roots as early as the 16th century.