California Shipbuilding Corporation

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Motorized hoisting truck used in moving scaffolding timbers around the shipyard, 1942.
Calship fitting out its first Victory ships, c. early 1944

California Shipbuilding Corporation built 467 Liberty and Victory ships during World War II, including Haskell-class attack transports. California Shipbuilding Corporation was often referred to as Calship.[1] The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships sometimes refers to this shipyard as California Shipbuilding Co., but Co[mpany] appears to be an error.

The Calship shipyard was created at Terminal Island in Los Angeles, California, USA as part of America's massive shipbuilding effort of World War II. W. A. Bechtel Co. was given sponsorship and executive direction of Calship. As of 1940, Los Angeles shipyards had not built a large ship in 20 years. By late 1941 though, shipbuilding had become the second largest manufacturing industry in the Los Angeles area.[2][3][4]

Calship was created from scratch and began production of Liberty Ships in May 1941. The yard was located on 175 acres on the north side of Terminal Island, north of Dock Street, near present-day berths 210-213. It initially had 8 ways, and later increased this to 14. Thirteen months after commencing production, the yard broke the record by delivering 15 Liberty Ships in June 1942. It delivered 111 ships in 1942, more than any other yard in the United States. In June 1943, it broke the record again by delivering 20 ships for the month, and yet again in December 1943, delivering 23 ships.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11]

The Kaiser Steel plant in Fontana, California was completed in August 1943, which enabled further production increases at Calship. Between September 27, 1941 and September 27, 1945, the yard launched 467 ships.[12]

The Calship yard was known as "the city built on invisible stilts." It was situated on marshy ground, and was built on artificial earth supported by 57,000 piles driven into the mud. Shipbuilding commenced before the fitting-out docks were even completed. The yard's workers came from every region of the United States, reaching a force of 40,000 men and women, only 1% of whom had any shipbuilding experience whatsoever.[13][14]

Calship closed in September 1945, after launching the last Victory ship, "four years to the minute after the first slid into the water."[15][16] Calship ranked 49th among United States corporations in the value of World War II military production contracts.[17]

In 1947 the Calship facility was taken over by National Metal & Steel Corporation which operated a scrap yard there. Ironically, 55 of the Liberty and Victory ships that were built at Calship were scrapped on the same site.[18][19]

Output of Calship[20]
Quantity Design Type Use
306 EC2-S-C1 Liberty ship cargo transport
30 Z-ET1-S-C3 Liberty ship tanker
32 VC2-S-AP3 Victory ship cargo transport, 8,500 hp
30 VC2-S-AP5 Haskell class USN attack transport
69 VC2-S-AP2 Victory ship cargo transport, 6,000 hp

The surviving museum ships: SS American Victory and SS Lane Victory, were built in the Calship yard. The SS American Victory is in Tampa, Florida and the SS Lane Victory is in Los Angeles. They are open to the public for dockside tours and also sail periodically.[21]

Coordinates: 33°45′40″N 118°15′05″W / 33.76111°N 118.25139°W / 33.76111; -118.25139

Construction of a Liberty Ship in California Shipbuilding's yard, June 1943.
Victory Ships being fitted out at California Shipbuilding Corp. in 1944 (probably May or June).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Liberty Ships built by California Shipbuilding Corp., Terminal Island, for U. S. Maritime Commission 1941-1945". Retrieved 2006-10-07. 
  2. ^ Nugent, Walter; Ridge, Martin. The American West: The Reader, Indiana University Press, 1999.
  3. ^ "California Shipbuilding Corp., Los Angeles, California" Project Liberty Ship Web site (http://www.liberty-ship.com/html/yards/californiasb.html), retrieved 8-25-2011.
  4. ^ "California Shipbuilding Corp., Los Angeles," Shipbuilding History Web site (http://shipbuildinghistory.com/history/shipyards/4emergencylarge/wwtwo/kcalifornia.htm), Retrieved 8-25-2011.
  5. ^ Jaffee, Capt. Walter W., The Lane Victory: The Last Victory Ship in War and in Peace, 2nd ed., pp. 18, 24-25, The Glencannon Press, Palo Alto, CA, 1997.
  6. ^ Nugent, Walter; Ridge, Martin. The American West: The Reader, Indiana University Press, 1999.
  7. ^ Sawyer, L.A. and Mitchell, W.H., The Liberty Ships, 2nd Ed., pp. 20, 61-76, 183-88, 214, 216, Lloyd's of London Press Ltd., London, Eng, 1985.
  8. ^ "California Shipbuilding Corporation (Calship) Collection, 1941-1945," California State University, Northridge Web site (http://library.csun.edu/Collections/SCA/UAC/CALSHIP), Retrieved 8-25-2011.
  9. ^ Calship Log, Vol. 1, No. 4, October 15, 1941, California Shipbuilding Corporation, Wilmington, California (http://home.comcast.net/~cshortridge/NAVALART/CALSHIP_LOG_10_15_41.pdf), Retrieved 8-25-2011.
  10. ^ "California Shipbuilding Corp., Los Angeles," Shipbuilding History Web site (http://shipbuildinghistory.com/history/shipyards/4emergencylarge/wwtwo/kcalifornia.htm), Retrieved 8-25-2011.
  11. ^ Herman, Arthur. Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II, pp. 137, 178, 258, Random House, New York, NY. ISBN 978-1-4000-6964-4.
  12. ^ Nugent, Walter; Ridge, Martin. The American West: The Reader, Indiana University Press, 1999.
  13. ^ "California Shipbuilding Corporation (Calship) Collection, 1941-1945," California State University, Northridge Web site (http://library.csun.edu/Collections/SCA/UAC/CALSHIP), Retrieved 8-25-2011.
  14. ^ "Shipbuilding: Speed on Terminal Island," Time magazine, July 13, 1942 (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,884558,00.html), Retrieved 8-25-2011.
  15. ^ "California Shipbuilding Corporation (Calship) Collection, 1941-1945," California State University, Northridge Web site (http://library.csun.edu/Collections/SCA/UAC/CALSHIP), Retrieved 8-25-2011.
  16. ^ "Los Angeles 1943 Pocket Atlas". Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  17. ^ Peck, Merton J. & Scherer, Frederic M. The Weapons Acquisition Process: An Economic Analysis (1962) Harvard Business School p.619
  18. ^ Queenan, Charles F. The Port of Los Angeles: From Wilderness to World Port, pp. 84-89, Los Angeles Harbor Department, Los Angeles, CA, 1983.
  19. ^ White, Michael D. The Port of Los Angeles, pp.78-79, 112, Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, SC, 2008.
  20. ^ "California Shipbuilding Corp. (CalShip), Los Angeles CA". Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  21. ^ Jaffee, Capt. Walter W., The Lane Victory: The Last Victory Ship in War and in Peace, 2nd ed., pp. 317-34, The Glencannon Press, Palo Alto, CA, 1997.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]