Northwest Steel was a small shipyard in Portland, Oregon. Little is known of its background or owners, but during World War I the yard built cargo ships for the United States Shipping Board (USSB). Some 37 of the 46 ships ship built at Northwest Steel were the West boats, a series of 5,500 gross register tons (GRT) steel-hulled cargo ships built for the USSB on the West Coast of the United States as part of the World War I war effort.
It was headed by Joseph R. Bowles, who was indicted for bribing a government official in about 1918 and then convicted of contempt of court. He was later described as a "greedy, domineering and difficult person, with no sense of civic responsibility."
The first ship built at Northwest Steel was the cargo ship War Baron, originally launched on March 31, 1917 as the Cunard Line ship Vesterlide, a British-flagged ship sunk by German submarine U-55 in January 1918. The final ship built was the 8,200 GRT tanker Swiftwind, completed in June 1921.
Notable ships built at Northwest Steel
- SS Centaurus ordered as West Minsi, cancelled, completed privately as Centaurus, renamed 1930 Portmar, bombed, beached and refloated at Darwin, Australia on 19 February 1942, torpedoed and lost 16 June 1943.
- SS War Baron (originally Vesterlide)
- SS West Celina Torpedoed and sunk 19 August 1942.
- SS West Cheswald
- USS West Compo (ID-3912)
- USS West Kyska (ID-3701)
- SS West Nohno
- SS West Saginaw
- USS West Shore (ID-3170)
- USS West View
- USS West Wauna (ID-3856)
- USS West Zeda (ID-3801)
- USS Westchester (ID-3122)
- USS Western Chief (ID-3161)
- USS Western Comet (ID-3569)
- USS Western Light (ID-3300)
- USS Western Maid (ID-3703)
- USS Western Ocean (ID-3151)
- USS Western Spirit (ID-3164)
- Colton, Tim (November 27, 2010). "Northwest Steel, Portland OR". Shipbuildinghistory.com. The Colton Company. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
- Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: War Baron". U-boat War in WWI. Uboat.net. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
- MacColl, E. Kimbark (November 1979). The Growth of a City: Power and Politics in Portland, Oregon 1915 to 1950. The Georgian Press. p. 29. ISBN 0-9603408-1-5. LCCN 79022316.
- Maritime Administration. "PORTMAR". Vessel Status Card. U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
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