Teamwork Builds Ships
On April 16, 1917, just after the United States declared war on Germany, the Emergency Fleet Corporation was formed by the United States Shipping Board to construct merchant ships, a vital need as German U-Boats were successfully targeting shipping, causing shortages of food, equipment, and supplies. The Emergency Fleet Corporation was also given the responsibility of overseeing the operation of the merchant fleet.
"He walked by lapping water through the dark. He heard its green wet slap against the crusted pier-piles: he drank its strong cod scent, and watched the loading of great boats drenched in blazing light as they weltered slowly down into the water. And the night was loud with the rumble of huge cranes, the sudden loose rattle of the donkey-engines, the cries of the over-seers, and the incessant rumbling trucks of stevedores within the pier.
His imperial country, for the first time, was gathering the huge thrust of her might. The air was charged with murderous exuberance, rioting and corrupt extravagance."
- Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel
(Undergraduate Eugene Gant, Wolfe's alter-ego, encounters the domestic U.S. war machine while searching for summer war-work in Norfolk, Virginia in the summer of 1918.)
The launching of the S.S. Quistconck, the first ship completed at Hog Island, outside of Philadelphia. President Wilson was in attendance at the launching on August 5, 1918.
W. C. Mattox, Building the Emergency Fleet (Cleveland: Penton Publishing Co., 1920)
Graph showing the complete monthly record of production for the Emergency Fleet Corporation between 1917 and 1919 in the three stages of shipbuilding (keels laid, ships launched, ships delivered). DWT = dead weight tonnage.
W. C. Mattox, Building the Emergency Fleet (Cleveland: Penton Publishing Co., 1920),107.