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The Kaiser Shipyards were seven major shipbuilding yards located on the U.S. west coast during World War II. They were owned by the Kaiser Shipbuilding Company, a creation of American industrialist Henry J. Kaiser, who established the shipbuilding company around 1939 in order to help meet the construction goals set by the United States Maritime Commission for merchant shipping.

Contents

Four of the Kaiser Shipyards were located in Richmond, California in the San Francisco Bay Area (see Richmond Shipyards). Together, these four Kaiser Shipyards produced 747 ships (including many of the famous Liberty ships and Victory ships), more than any other complex in the United States. Only one of these ships, the Red Oak Victory, survives. Kaiser also produced the Casablanca-class escort carriers.

The other three shipyards were located across the Columbia River from each other at Ryan Point in Vancouver, Washington, and at Swan Island in Portland, Oregon (Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation).

Kaiser was known for developing new methods of ship building, which allowed his yards to outproduce other similar facilities and build 1,490 ships, 27 percent of the total Maritime Commission construction. Kaiser's ships were completed in two-thirds the time and a quarter the cost of the average of all other shipyards. Liberty ships were typically assembled in a little over two weeks.

Kaiser Shipyards shut down at the end of the war. The Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park was dedicated October 25, 2000 on the site of one of the shipyards in Richmond.

History

Henry Kaiser had been building cargo ships for the Maritime Commission in the 1930s, partnering with Todd Pacific Shipyards and the Bath Iron Works. When orders for ships from the British government, already at war with Germany, allowed for growth, Kaiser established his first Richmond shipyard begun in December 1940.

In April 1941 the Maritime Commission requested an additional Kaiser yard, to be used for Liberty ship construction, and after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Kaiser started third and fourth yards, building troop transports and LSTs, respectively.

Other details

  • Kaiser set several records:
    • The Liberty Ship SS Robert E. Peary was assembled in less than five days as a part of a special competition among shipyards.
    • At the Oregon Shipbuilding Yard on the Columbia River, near Portland, the SS Joseph N. Teal was built in ten days in fall 1942.
  • The Oregon Shipbuilding Yards were responsible for 455 ships.
  • Kaiser recruited from across the United States to work in his yards, hiring women and minorities.

See also

References

  • A Selective History of the Codornices-University Village...with special attention given to the Richmond Shipyard Railway..., by Warren and Catherine Lee, Imprint [Albuquerque, N.M.]: Belvidere Delaware Railroad Company Enterprises, Ltd., (2000)

External links

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