Emergency Shipbuilding Program


The Emergency Shipbuilding Program (late 1940 – September 1945) was a United States government effort to quickly build simple cargo ships to carry troops and materiel to allies and foreign theatres during World War II. Run by the U.S. Maritime Commission, the program built almost 6,000 ships.[1][2][3]

U.S. Maritime Commission "Ships for Victory" emblem


By the fall of 1940, the British Merchant Navy (equivalent to the United States Merchant Marine) was being sunk in the Battle of the Atlantic by Germany's U-boats faster than the United Kingdom could replace them. Led by Sir Arthur Salter, a group of men called the British Merchant Shipping Mission came to North America from the UK to enlist U.S. and Canadian shipbuilders to construct merchant ships. As all existing U.S. shipyards capable of constructing ocean-going merchant ships were already occupied by either building ships for the U.S. Navy or for the U.S. Maritime Commission's Long Range Shipbuilding Program, which had begun three years previously to fulfill the goals set forth in the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, the mission negotiated with a consortium of companies made up of the existing U.S. ship repairer Todd Shipyards, which had its headquarters in New York City in league with the shipbuilder Bath Iron Works located in Bath, Maine.[4][5]

The new yard, called the Todd-Bath Iron Shipbuilding Corporation, was to be an entirely new facility located on a piece of mostly vacant land located adjacent to Cummings Point in South Portland, Maine, for the purpose of building 30 cargo ships. The mission, likewise, negotiated with a different consortium made up of Todd along with a group of heavy construction companies in the Western U.S. for the building of a new shipyard in the San Francisco Bay area for construction of 30 ships identical to those to be built in Maine.

That yard was to be called the Todd-California Shipbuilding Corp. It was slated to be built on the tide flats of Richmond on the east side of the bay. The construction companies that made up the second half of that corporation had no experience building ships, but did have an extensive resume with the construction of highways, bridges, and major public-works projects such as the Hoover Dam, the Bonneville Dam, and the massive Grand Coulee Dam. Known as the Six Companies, the members included two companies that were to become driving powers in wartime merchant shipbuilding during the ensuing years, and the men behind those companies were Henry J. Kaiser, who headed the Kaiser Companies, and John A. McCone,[6] who led the Bechtel/McCone Company.[3]

Contracts for both yards and the ships were signed on December 20, 1940. All the ships to be built were collectively called the Ocean class and to be of an existing British design for five-hatch cargo ships of about 10,000 tons' load displacement and 11 knots' service speed using obsolete, but readily available, triple-expansion, reciprocating steam engine and coal-fired Scotch-type fire tube boilers. The first of these vessels, the SS Ocean Vanguard was launched at the Todd-California yard on October 15, 1941.[7]</ref>[2]

The early yearsEdit

With the defense of both the U.S. and its overseas possessions, along with a very strong national interest in assisting Britain in its struggle to keep its supply lines open to both North America and its overseas colonies, President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced what was to become known as the Emergency Shipbuilding Program on January 3, 1941, for the construction of 200 ships very much similar to those being built for the British.[8] He designated that the program be implemented and administered by the Maritime Commission, which since 1937 had been the federal government department tasked with merchant marine development, and which had worked very closely with the British Mission in placing its 60-ship order. Immediately, the Commission authorized that the two yards building for the British build ships for the U.S. upon completion of their current contracts.[9]

The Maritime Commission also funded the yards to add building ways and realizing that more than two yards would be needed for the program they were expecting to enter into contracts to build new shipyards on the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific Coasts of the U.S. In this first wave of expansion, seven additional yards were added to those in Maine and California, and like those yards were to be for the sole purpose of building only the emergency type of ships. While all the yards were to be built by private contractors and operated by commercial shipbuilding companies, the new yards were financed by the Maritime Commission with funds authorized by Congress, thus were owned by the federal government. One of the new yards planned for construction was to be in Baltimore, Maryland, and would be run by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation. That facility became known as the Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyard for the Fairfield section of Baltimore, where it was located. Bethlehem Shipbuilding was one of the nation's largest shipbuilding companies, having construction yards on the East Coast in Quincy, Massachusetts, on Staten Island, New York, and at Sparrows Point, also in Baltimore.</ref>[2]

On the West Coast, it had yards in San Pedro and San Francisco. Another was to be in Wilmington, North Carolina, and managed by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Newport News, Virginia, which had one of the largest commercial yards in the U.S., and by 1941 was exclusively building large combatant ships for the Navy. That yard was to be called the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company.[3]

Additionally, yards were authorized to be built on the Gulf Coast at Mobile, Alabama, which was to be operated by the Mobile-based Alabama Drydock and Shipbuilding Company, in New Orleans on the Industrial Canal to be known as the Delta Shipbuilding Company and operated by the American Shipbuilding Company of Toledo, Ohio, one at Houston, Texas on the Houston Ship Channel to be operated by Todd Shipyards and called the Todd-Houston Shipbuilding Corp. On the West Coast, one yard was contracted to be built in Los Angeles at Terminal Island and managed by the Bechtel/McCone Company. That yard would be called the California Shipbuilding Corporation or CalShip for short. The Kaiser Corporation itself received a contract to build a new yard on the Columbia River at Portland, Oregon, which would be known as the Oregon Shipbuilding Corp.[10]

The emergency shipsEdit

Liberty ship Joseph M. Terrel at Brunswick, GA c. 1944

The ships for which all the yards were contracted to build were first designated by the Maritime Commission as EC2-S-C1, but because they were designed for capacity and rapid construction as opposed to speed and gracefulness, lacked the streamlined appearance of the more modern ship designs of the Maritime Commission, such as the standard freighters type C2 ships or type C3 ships, the President had declared them to be "dreadful-looking objects" and from that the term "ugly duckling" became the unofficial name for the emergency vessels. The vessels collectively were being officially referred to as the "Liberty Fleet" ships as of April 1941, and not long after, the term "Liberty Ship" became the standard name applied to all vessels of the class.

Like their British counterparts, the Ocean class, the Liberty ships were of a five-hatch design around 10000 tons loaded displacement powered by the same size of triple-expansion, reciprocating steam engines, but using more modern oil-fired, water-tube boilers. Overall, they were somewhat antiquated for the era and some quiet objection arose on the part of some of the members of the Maritime Commission to devoting so many valuable resources to their construction. Some believed that fewer but faster ships would be able to move as much cargo, since with their added speed, they could make more voyages in any given year, but faster and more complex ships required more time to build, and more importantly, required steam turbines to gain the additional speed.

In 1941, the manufacturers of steam turbines in the U.S., companies such as General Electric, Westinghouse, and Allis-Chalmers, did not have adequate production capacity to build all the turbines demanded by the Navy or for the Maritime Commission's standard dry cargo ships or tankers it was intending to still build. In the end, it was decided that what the looming war was going to require were ships that could be built quickly using prefabrication by workers relatively unskilled in shipbuilding and in greatest numbers with the available resources. With that, the Liberty ship was adopted as the only emergency type to be built, thus was shared by all of the new emergency shipyards. While all the new yards were able to get their first keels laid in a very short time, the first of the Liberty ships to be launched was the SS Patrick Henry, which rolled down the ways at the Bethlehem-Fairfield yard on September 27, 1941.[11]

The program grows as war nearsEdit

As 1941 progressed, the construction of the emergency yards accelerated rapidly and keels were laid upon the new building ways. Well before the first wave of expansion was underway or the original 60 British ships were delivered, shortly after the Lend-Lease Bill was passed by Congress in March, a second wave of 306 additional ships was ordered, including 112 of the emergency type; the remainder was standard-type vessels and tankers. This additional number of ships required additional building ways, so the Maritime Commission authorized new ways to be added to the yards in both the Long Range and Emergency Programs and also contracted for a second yard to be built for the Kaiser-managed yards in Richmond, California. After this time, the original Kaiser yard became known as Richmond #1 and the new yard as Richmond #2.[3]

After the May 27[12] Declaration of Unlimited National Emergency by the President, the Emergency Program was further expanded in a third wave. To accommodate the addition of more ships to be built, additional ways were added to the yards in the program and the schedule of construction accelerated to build more ships per shipway per year. In total, this increase raised the planned output of all merchant shipbuilders to about 500 ships (5 million total deadweight tons) for 1942 and 700 ships (7 million tons) in 1943.[13]

Further expansion after the U.S. entry into World War IIEdit

The December 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent entry of the U.S. into the war caused all previously established production schedules to be further revised dramatically upward. With the need to assist Britain in replacing its lost tonnage and to provide adequate ships to the Army to transport troops and supplies to foreign theaters, in January 1942, President Roosevelt asked that 8 million tons of shipping be built in 1942 and 10 million in 1943. This fourth wave of expansion involved further shortening the time for building the ships and the further addition of building ways at the existing yards, as well as adding new yards to the emergency program. In early 1942, yards for building Liberty ships were contracted to be built in Vancouver, Washington, to be managed by the Kaiser Corporation, and a yard in Savannah, Georgia, which was to be operated by a new company named Savannah Shipyards, although they had no previous experience with building ships. New yards also contracted to be built at this time, but not for the emergency-type ships, were a third yard in Richmond, also to be managed by the Kaiser Corporation, and a yard in Alameda, California, to be managed by Bethlehem. This wave brought the total number of building ways available to the commission to 221.

Incredibly, the 18 million tons of cargo ships (roughly equal to 1800 10,000 ton Liberty ships) were determined by early February 1942 by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to not be adequate for anticipated needs, thus the President directed the Maritime Commission to increase the orders to the equivalent of 24 million tons. With no certainty that this astonishing quantity of ships could be built before the end of 1943, the commission increased their contracts with the existing yards for more building ways and to contract for more shipyards to build Liberty ships, as well as to build other types of vessels such as tankers, troop transports, and military-type vessels. For the construction of Liberty-type ships, a new yard was ordered to be built at Providence, Rhode Island, to be managed by the Rheem Corporation, a new yard in Brunswick, Georgia, which would be managed by the J.A. Jones Construction Company, another in Jacksonville, Florida, which would be operated by the Merrill-Stevens Boatbuilding Company of Miami, a yard in Panama City, Florida, which would also be managed by J.A. Jones, and a yard at Sausalito, California, to be managed by the Bechtel/McCone Group. For non-Liberty ship construction, the commission ordered another yard in Richmond to be managed as the others there, by Kaiser, to be known as Richmond #4 and a yard at Swan Island on the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon for the construction of tankers.</ref>[2]

Impacts of the program on war production and societyEdit

Material shortagesEdit

While this rapid expansion was taking place, all other defense industries were also in a maximum production mode to accommodate the orders being placed by the government for all other manner of military equipment, which included the massive wartime naval expansion program begun in 1940 with the passage of the Two Ocean Navy Act. So much growth in demand happening simultaneously in industries sharing common materials inevitably led to shortages in steel, propulsion machinery, and most other ship equipment. In many cases, the shortages affected the emergency program more than it did the Navy's, since its programs were deemed of higher priority in the eyes of the many wartime boards set up for deciding on where scarce resources would be allocated. All along the way, the Navy made claim to as much of the raw materials, steel, machinery, manufacturing plant allocations, and labor that it could get.[3]

For the most part, this imbalance occurred because the Maritime Commission lacked the influence that the military branches possessed, and that influence ultimately swayed entities such as the Supply Priorities and Allocations Board to decide in favor of the Navy's demands. This disproportionate allocation regimen often left the Maritime Commission without the resources needed to accomplish the goals established for it by President Roosevelt, and only through direct appeal to FDR by Admiral Land did enough of the critical resources make it to the emergency program. These shortages were their most severe during all of 1941 and through much of 1942, but additional steel rolling and plate mills, as well as expanded propulsion machinery manufacturing capability, reduced many of those shortages in the course of 1943, but they were never fully eliminated until the end of the war. Materials such as oil, gasoline, rubber, and grease were rationed for the fighting units, so the Pennsylvania Shipyard had to improvise, but bananas were very cheap, South American markets having been hampered by the war. Combat needs were top priority so alternative substances had to be found for materials such as the grease used to lubricate the ramp down which a boat slid into the water when launching. The boatbuilders found that ships could be launched handily by covering the ramp in a layer of ripe unpeeled bananas. It worked very well until a supervisor decided to cut costs by buying even cheaper green bananas. Of course, they were also very gummy and did not "mush" like ripe ones. The only time this was used, the boat went about one-third down the ramp and stuck. Nearly two days were needed to dig out the keel and lever the boat to the water, where it floated quite well. Thereafter, the shipyard did not use any but well-ripened bananas.

Manpower shortagesEdit

Another effect of the breakneck growth in production in the early years of the war was a labor shortage in the towns and cities where the emergency shipyards were being built. Since a de facto drought in shipbuilding work had occurred in the U.S. for nearly two decades, the number of experienced shipbuilders was quite small at the war's start. Additionally, many of those towns and cities where new yards were to be built had not been major shipbuilding centers before 1941, and these yards felt the shortage the most. To overcome this shortage, an aggressive recruiting program was undertaken by both the commission and the companies operating the shipyards. Since many of the emergency yards were being managed by established shipbuilding or repair companies, they could send some of their more skilled men to get "the new facilities on their feet and running".

However, a labor force with abilities to accomplish heavy industrial and mechanical work was most needed. To find this labor, recruiting was directed towards areas of the nation's hinterland, which had only a few years before found itself in the depths of the Great Depression in the not mistaken belief that men used to keeping farm machinery operating could built ships, as well. Getting these former farmers to decide to take up shipbuilding was not too difficult an undertaking because the wages offered to these previously poor men were much higher had ever been offered to such working-class Americans before. This opportunity to earn a good wage showed the way to a possible future, where life might provide better security than in the poverty years of the 1930s, and that was all that was needed to get people on the move. Not uncommonly, entire families made the pilgrimage from places such as the Dust Bowl regions of Texas and Oklahoma to the shipbuilding centers on the West Coast or the Gulf of Mexico. With such a rapid influx of new workers to these communities, however, acute shortages in housing, schools and other needed services arose. Along with building new shipyards and ships, a need existed to build all the necessities for many workers to live in most of the largest shipbuilding centers such as Richmond, and Portland. Workers with just about any skilled trade had steady employment in those communities throughout the course of the war. Some skilled workers such as engineers were "frozen" in their jobs and were not allowed to leave their work, even to enlist.[14]

Women and minorities enter the shipbuilding workforceEdit

Before the war, shipbuilding had been exclusively a male occupation, but the need to reach out to new sources of labor for the emergency yards created opportunities for women to gain employment in the many trades that are needed to construct a ship. While not as much riveting as welding was used in the building of the emergency ships, the popular symbolic figure of Rosie the Riveter partly sprang from the wartime shipyard, where a new cadre of female shipfitters suddenly developed. Additionally, in the deep South, where African Americans had been excluded from the higher-paying industrial and manufacturing employment, such a shortage of labor existed for the yards on the Gulf that reluctant employers had to accept that black labor was required to meet production goals. In the end, the record productivity for Black labor in the Gulf shipyards was no lower than for any other group employed.[15]


Since many of the workers hired for the new yards had no shipbuilding experience prior to being hired, schools were set up in the individual shipyards and in the local school systems of the host cities. One of the factors that led to the great success of the Emergency Program was to change the shipbuilding arts from one where a man had to progress through a many-years-long apprenticeship up to become a journeyman and then many years later, a master in their chosen trade. The use of welding allowed ships to be built in modular sections eliminating the time-consuming and highly skilled shipfitting of individual hull pieces to be riveted in place on the building ways. Prefabrication allowed a much more streamlined approach to the building of a ship more akin to modern manufacturing assembly processes where a worker would be tasked with doing one small task in the many thousands of tasks required to assemble a ship. With volume production, that worker could be employed doing that same task repetitively, which would ultimately lead to high productivity due to a worker becoming a master of his assigned task very quickly. Old-timers would scoff at the way the Liberty ships were built by "farmers", as they would say, but the results were far beyond what anyone might have imagined in 1940 when the program began.

Movement of workersEdit

As successful as the Maritime Commission and the shipbuilding companies were in their recruiting efforts, the scale of the national wartime economy was so great that a degree of a labor shortage always existed in the yards, although the shortfall in manpower became more severely felt in the later years of the war. Many of the men employed in the yards in the first years of the program were of age for the draft, and as the war progressed, more of these men left the yards to serve in the military. Other war industries also competed for labor, and many of the cities and towns that hosted shipyards also had other labor-intensive wartime industries, such as aircraft plants. In many cases, the wages were close to what could be earned at a shipyard for work that was not as physically taxing, so a slow but steady movement of labor from one defense industry to another was made, and often shipbuilding lost more labor than it gained.

The program reaches full productionEdit

By the second half of 1942, the yards contracted in the first waves of expansion were fully built and those yards had completed three or more ships per building way. The time for building the ships fell dramatically, as experience was gained by the workers in their jobs and by the management in each yard in the most effective means of construction. One factor that played a major part in getting the productivity so high was the use of welding and prefabrication, in which large sections of each ship's hull or superstructure was built off the building ways and then moved into position only when the assemblers were ready. This method became so efficient that for a single Liberty ship to be fully assembled, launched, outfitted, and delivered went from a program average of almost 240 days at the beginning of 1942 to only 56 days at the end of the year. At the most productive yards on the West Coast, Oregon Ship and Richmond #2, the time a single vessel spent on the ways before launching was only a little more than two weeks. Two particular ships were built in record-breaking times. First in September 1942, the Liberty ship SS Joseph N. Teal was built Oregon Shipbuilding in 10 days. Two months later in November at Richmond yard #2, the SS Robert E. Peary was launching in only 4 days, 15 hours, 29 minutes from the time her keel was laid. While not ever met or repeated during the remainder of World War II, these "stunt" ships came only a little more than one year after the first ships ordered as part of the Emergency Program were launched themselves.

Coming into play during this time was a de facto combining of the Long Range Shipbuilding Program with the Emergency Program, and oversight of the yards became decentralized into four separate regional directors. The programs added together at the peak of output in mid-1943 ultimately employed 650,000 workers in all the Maritime Commission-contracted yards and unknown tens of thousands more manufacturing the components need to assemble the ships. Hurdles which needed to be overcome to reach the levels of production achieved. The Maritime Commission struggled throughout 1942 and the first half of 1943 to get enough steel allocated to it from the War Production Board. With plate mills around the country running beyond their normal capacity, the demand for plate by all war industries, but especially the Navy's shipbuilding, was still more than could be made. New or expanded plate production facilities did not come online until the second half of 1943, when the shortage to steel plate abated. Additionally, constant shortages existed for many of the parts shared between Navy and merchant vessels, such as pumps and valves. Still with all the hurdles faced, the Maritime Commission and the yards contracted to it were able to deliver 8 million tons of shipping to the war effort by the end of 1942 and more than 12 million tons in 1943.

Changes to ship design and types during 1943Edit

By the time that Liberty ship construction was reaching its maximum output rate in early 1943, the situation became clear to military planners and the Maritime Commission slowing the rate of the building Liberty class vessels and begin building a class with a higher operating speed was preferable. The decision was made to build a class no larger than the Liberty class, but with steam turbine propulsion, with the shortage of turbines having been relieved by the expansion of turbine manufacturing capacity during 1941 and 1942. Beginning in March 1943, with enough turbines, the Victory ship or VC2 type cargo vessels were contracted for at all of the West Coast yards, which had been previously building Liberty ships, as well as at the Bethlehem-Fairfield yard. The first of the new class, the SS United Victory was completed and delivered at Oregon Shipbuilding in February 1944. All the other yards building Liberty ships continued to do so, although many of those yards began building specialized military-type vessels for the Navy, such as landing ships, troops transports, frigates, and escort aircraft carriers. Originally, military types were not expected to be a part of the Maritime Commission's wartime building programs, but the Joint Chiefs of Staff required a high number of specialized vessels be built for upcoming military operations. Whenan inability for Navy contracted yards to meet that demand was determined, the Maritime Commission was asked if it could switch some of its production to meet the Navy's needs. Some types were designed with only military purpose, but which could be built along the standards of merchant vessels. This was especially true of the auxiliary naval vessels that supported the combat ships and landing ships such as LSTs, which had been one of the types in especially short supply in 1943.

Similarly, having a sufficient number of oil tankers was determined early in the program to be as important, if not more so, than dry cargo ships for the war effort. In the fourth wave of expansion in 1942, the commission increased the program's orders for the construction of T2- and T3-type tankers. Ultimately, five yards were committed to tanker construction: Sun Shipbuilding in Chester, Pennsylvania, and Bethlehem Steel at Sparrows Point, which had both been principally building tankers since the beginning of the program. Alabama Shipbuilding yard in Mobile and the MarinShip yard at Sausalito switched from building Liberty ships to tanker construction and the previously mentioned new yard at Swan Island in Portland, Oregon, managed by the Kaiser Group, was built to construct tankers exclusively.

Program summaryEdit

Shipyards in the programEdit

By the end of World War II, the list of shipyards building for the Maritime Commission comprised these yards (those in italics did not exist prior to the Emergency Program's start in 1940):

Yards on the East Coast
Yard name Location First delivery Types delivered Total number of ways Total vessels
Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. Chester, Pennsylvania 1938 C2 type, C4 type, T2 type, T3 type probably 24 [16] 276 ships for Maritime Commission (MC) (plus 78 private account ships)
Bethlehem Sparrows Point Shipyard Sparrows Point, Maryland 1939 C1 type, C2 type, C3 type, C5 type, R1 type, T2 type, T3 type number 77 ships for MC (plus 38 for private acct.)
Federal Shipbuilding Kearny, New Jersey 1939 C1 type, C2 type, C3 type, P2 type, T3 type number 84 ships for MC (plus 92 for USN or private account ships)
Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. Newport News, Virginia 1940 C2 type, C3 type, P4 type, T3 type number 18 ships for MC (remainder for USN)
Bethlehem Staten Island Staten Island, New York January 1941 C1 type number 5 ships for MC (remainder for USN)
Bath Iron Works Corp. Bath, Maine August 1941 C2 type number 4 ships for MC (remainder for USN)
Bethlehem Fairfield Shipyard Baltimore, Maryland December 1941 EC2 type, S2 (LST) type, VC2 type 16 ways 514 ships for MC
Pusey and Jones Corp. Wilmington, Delaware January 1942 C1 type 3 ways 19 ships for MC
North Carolina Shipbuilding Corp. Wilmington, North Carolina February 1942 EC2 type, C2 type 9 ways 243 ships for USMC
Todd-Bath Shipbuilding Corp. South Portland, Maine March 1942 British Ocean type, EC2 type 13 ways 30 ships for UK, 242 ships for USMC
Walsh-Kaiser Company, Inc. Providence, Rhode Island February 1943 EC2 type, S2 (frigate) type, S4 (transport) type 6 ways 64 ships for MC
Southeastern Shipbuilding Corporation Savannah, Georgia March 1943 EC2 type, C1-M type 6 ways 105 ships for MC
St. Johns River Shipbuilding Company Jacksonville, Florida April 1943 EC2 type, T1 type 6 ways 94 ships for MC
J.A. Jones Construction Co. Brunswick, Georgia May 1943 EC2 type, C1-M type 6 ways 99 ships for MC
Penn-Jersey Shipbuilding Corp. Camden, New Jersey August 1943 N3 type number 14 ships for MC
Welding Shipyards Norfolk, Virginia November 1943 T3 type 1 way 10 ships for USMC (remainder for private account ships)
Yards on the West Coast
Yard name Location First delivery date Types delivered Total number of ways Total vessels built
Moore Dry Dock Company Oakland, California July 1940 C2 type, R2 type, C3 type 4 ways 112 ships
Bethlehem Steel Corp. San Francisco, California February 1941 C1 type number 5 ships for MC (remainder for USN)
Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Tacoma, Washington April 1941 C1 type, C3 type, T1 type

MC: cargo
RN: escort carriers
USN: escort carriers, troop transports, gasoline tankers, seaplane and destroyer tenders

8 ways 5 ships for MC, 44 for US Navy, 26 for Royal Navy
Western Pipe & Steel Corp. South San Francisco, California April 1941 C1 type, C3 type 4 ways 23 ships for MC
Kaiser Richmond No. 1 Yard Richmond, California August 1941 British Ocean type, EC2 type, VC2 type 7 ways 30 ships for UK, 191 ships for MC
Kaiser Richmond No. 2 Yard Richmond, California September 1941 EC2 type, VC2 type 12 ways 442 ships for MC
Consolidated Steel Corp. Wilmington, California September 1941 C1 type, C1-M type, C2 type, P1 type, S2 (frigate) type, S4 (transport) type 8 ways 276 ships
Oregon Shipbuilding Co. Portland, Oregon January 1942 EC2 type, VC2 type 11 ways 474 ship
California Shipbuilding Corp. Terminal Island, Los Angeles, California February 1942 EC2 type, VC2 type 14 ways 443 ships for MC
Kaiser Company Vancouver Shipyard Vancouver, Washington July 1942 EC2 type, S2 (LST) type, S4 (escort carrier) type, VC2 type and C4 type 12 ways 143 ships
MarinShip Corp. Sausalito, California October 1942 EC2 type, T2 type 6 ways 93 ships for MC
Pacific Bridge Company Alameda, California December 1942 N3 type 2 ways (basins) 9 ships for MC (remainder for USN)
Kaiser Swan Island Shipyard Swan Island, Portland, Oregon December 1942 T2 type 8 ways 147 ships for MC
Kaiser Richmond No. 4 Yard Richmond, California April 1943 S2 (LST) type, S2 (frigate) type, C1-M type 3 ways 51 ships
Kaiser Richmond No. 3 Yard Richmond, California August 1943 C4 type 5 ways (basins) 35 ships for MC
Bethlehem Alameda Works Shipyard Alameda, California August 1944 P2 type 4 ways 10 ships for MC
Yards on the Gulf Coast
Yard name Location First delivery date Types delivered Total number of ways Total vessels built
Ingalls Shipbuilding Pascagoula, Mississippi 1940 C3 type 6 ways 80 ships for MC or private
Tampa Shipbuilding Corp. Tampa, Florida July 1940 C2 type 3 ways 13 ships for MC (37 more for USN)
Gulf Shipbuilding Chickasaw, Alabama April 1941 C2 type probably 8 [17] 36 ships for MC (35 for USN, 2 for RN)
Pennsylvania Shipyards Beaumont, Texas May 1941 C1 type, C1-M type, N3 type, V4 type 5 way 99 ships for MC
Todd Houston Shipbuilding Houston, Texas May 1942 EC2 type 9 ways 222 ships for MC
Delta Shipbuilding New Orleans, Louisiana May 1942 EC2 type 8 ways 188 ships for MC
Alabama Drydock Co. Mobile, Alabama May 1942 EC2 type, T2 type 12 ways 123 ships for MC (remainder for private)
Avondale Marine Ways Westwego, Louisiana January 1943 N3 type, V4 type number 22 ships (remainder for private)
J.A. Jones Construction Co. Panama City, Florida March 1943 EC2 type, T1 type 6 ways 108 ships for MC
Pendleton Shipyard Company New Orleans, Louisiana August 1943 N3 type, V4 type number 13 ships for MC
Todd Galveston Drydocks Co. Galveston, Texas September 1943 T1 type number 13 ships
Yards on the Great Lakes
Yard name Location First delivery date Types delivered Total number of ways Total vessels built
Cargill Inc. Savage, Minnesota November 1941 T1 type number 18 for US Navy


Leatham D. Smith Shipbuilding Co. Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin November 1942 C1-M type, N3 type, S2 (frigate) type number 34 ships for MC (remainder to USN or other govt.)
Walter Butler Shipbuilders Inc. Superior, Wisconsin December 1942 C1-M type, N3 type, S2 (frigate) type number 52 ships for MC
Froemming Brothers Milwaukee, Wisconsin April 1943 C1-M type, V4 type, S2 (frigate) type number 26 ships for MC
American Shipbuilding Lorain, Ohio May 1943 L6 type, S2 (frigate) type number 14 ships for MC (remainder 35 for USN or private)
Walter Butler Shipbuilders Duluth, Minnesota May 1943 C1-M type, N3 type, T1 type number 38 ships for MC (remainder to private)
Globe Shipbuilding Superior, Wisconsin May 1943 C1-M type, V4 type, S2 (frigate) type number 29 ships for MC
Great Lakes Engineering Co. Ecorse, Michigan May 1943 L6 type number 6 ships for MC (remainder for private)
Great Lakes Engineering Works Ashtabula, Ohio May 1943 L6 type number 4 ships (remainder for private)
American Shipbuilding Cleveland, Ohio June 1943 L6 type, S2 (frigate) type number 9 ships for MC (16 for USN)
Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Co. Evansville, Indiana & Leavenworth, Kansas September 1942 LST, LCT, crane ships, barges number 171 LST, 64 LCTs, 3 crane ship

Ships built by typeEdit

Type of ship
(incl. all variant designs w/in type)
Deliveries 1940 Deliveries 1941 Deliveries 1942 Deliveries 1943 Deliveries 1944 Deliveries 1945 Totals for all years
C1 type cargo ship 1 29 20 78 64 2 194
C1-M type cargo ship 0 0 0 0 64 189 220
C2 type cargo ship 6 17 20 54 109 82 309
EC2 type (1) cargo ship 0 7 55 1279 728 144 2755
VC2 type cargo ship 0 0 0 0 208 322 530
C3 type cargo ship 26 14 25 65 44 36 315
C4 type cargo ship 0 0 0 5 26 34 65
T1 type tanker 0 0 0 25 37 46 108
T2 type tanker 0 2 31 139 218 139 529
T3 type tanker 4 1 2 21 14 10 59
P2 type troop transport 0 0 0 0 3 16 19
S2 type frigate 0 0 0 18 59 8 85
S3 type landing ship 0 0 12 64 0 0 76
S4 type escort carrier 0 0 0 19 31 0 50
S4 type attack transport 0 0 0 0 29 35 64
L6 type Great Lakes ore carriers 0 0 0 16 0 0 16
N3 type cargo ship 0 0 0 46 51 6 107
V4 type tug 0 0 0 48 14 0 62

(1) includes 60 British type


  1. ^ "The Emergency Shipbuilding Program | MARAD". www.maritime.dot.gov.
  2. ^ a b c d "HyperWar: Gray Steel and Black Oil [Chapter 14]". www.ibiblio.org.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Shipbuilding under the United States Maritime Commission 1936 to 1950". www.usmaritimecommission.de.
  4. ^ "General | MARAD". www.maritime.dot.gov.
  5. ^ "Vessels for the U.S. Navy | MARAD". www.maritime.dot.gov.
  6. ^ "John McCone : Biography". spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk. 2012. Archived from the original on 18 October 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2012.
  7. ^ "The Shipbuilding Program of the U.S. Maritime Commission | MARAD". www.maritime.dot.gov.
  8. ^ Franklin D. Roosevelt, "We Choose Human Freedom" (Speech, The American Presidency Project, Washington, D.C., May 27, 1941)
  9. ^ "The Maritime Administration's First 100 Years: 1916 – 2016 | MARAD". www.maritime.dot.gov.
  10. ^ "Not Even Past: Social Vulnerability and the Legacy of Redlining". dsl.richmond.edu.
  11. ^ "T2-SE-A1 Type | MARAD". www.maritime.dot.gov.
  12. ^ Roosevelt, Franklin D. (May 27, 1941). "Announcing Unlimited National Emergency". Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. Retrieved 2 November 2012.
  13. ^ "U.S. Maritime Commission Post-World War II | MARAD". www.maritime.dot.gov.
  14. ^ Waging War on the Home Front, An Illustrated Memoir of World War II, by Chauncey Del French
  16. ^ "Fourth Naval District (Cochrane Collection)".
  17. ^ "Eighth Naval District (Cochrane Collection)".
  18. ^ shipbuildinghistory.com
    18 of 23 Patapsco-class gasoline tankers
      • AOG-6 ... AOG-11, AOG-48 ... AOG-59
    original claim in this table: 19 ships for MC (remainder to other government agencies)
  • Lane, Frederic C. (1950). Ships for Victory: A History of Shipbuilding under the U.S. Maritime Commission in World War II. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-6752-5.
  • Fassett, Frederick Gardiner (1948). The Shipbuilding Business in the United States of America. Jersey City, New Jersey: Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.
  • Herman, Arthur (2012). Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II. New York, NY: Random House.
  • Sawyer, L. A. (1985). The Liberty Ships: The History of the 'Emergency' Type Cargo Ships Constructed in the United States During the Second World War. Colchester, England: Lloyd's of London Press Ltd.

External linksEdit

  • History of the U.S. Merchant Marine since the Revolution
  • Shipbuilding Under the U.S. Maritime Commission 1936 to 1950
  • Construction Records of U.S. Shipbuilding in World War II