Another of the shipyards established by the Kaiser organization was the eight-way yard of the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation in Portland, Oregon. It was another of the nine yards approved in 1941 and from which 260 ships were expected to be delivered from their total of sixty-five slipways within a two-year period.
One of the first two West Coast yards in operation, it was entirely new and was designed specifically to mass-produce just
one type of ship rapidly. Laid out to spacious plans, it included plate shops, assembly bays and extensive storage space.
Rapid expansion soon increased the number of slips toeleven and then to thirteen. But still further space was required and
early in 1942 part of the storage area was used for another assembly bay. Small assemblies were made in this building,
were then conveyed to the platens at the slipways and there joined into larger units. The increased layout presented many
difficulties, however, for material first passed to the fabricating shops, moved back to the assembly plant and then
forward in sub-assemblies - round the shops - and to the ways. But this essential movement of material caused many transit
problems and were only resolved by use of a strictly regulated traffic control system. Nevertheless, although the yard
layout violated the 'straight flow' of an ideal production line, it still led many others with its speed records. Later it
was further expanded and remodeled and only then did the yard achieve its own particular sensational and spectacular
high-speed shipbuilding record. However, all this progress was only achieved at greatly increased cost, for whereas in
June 1941 the anticipated cost of its eleven ways was $7 million, the actual cost had, by December 1944, escalated to more than $25 million.
As with all shipbuilding contracts, those with this yard set time schedules for ship production. These the yard attained
by about mid-1942 with their quota of ten ships per month. By mid-1943 they produced ships at the steady pace of one every
seventeen days (their contracts still allowed twenty-three days) and during the whole of this same year the yard's output
averaged sixteen ships per month. Previously, however, in 1942 (September 13-23) the yard had launched one ship (Yard No.
581) only ten days after keel-laying. The Richmond No. 2 shipyard responded to this with its world-record ship built in
even faster time, but these extra-high-speed products were only 'show-piece' stunts and the pace was not maintained or even
The fees paid to shipbuilders were set by statute at a maximum of seven per cent of the ship-cost plus bonuses for
speed/performance - but no greater than ten per cent in all.
In March 1941 the average cost of a Liberty ship was estimated at $1.34 million dollars, but as productivity from all the yards increased so the overall costs were reduced. Nevertheless some fifteen months later the contracts of the Oregon Shipbuilding Corp. were still fixed at the high maximum fee of $140,000 per ship. In December 1942 this fee was finally
halved and four months later was still further reduced, to $60,000 dollars.
After June 1944 the nation's shipbuilding program was at last given an 'urgency' rating for its manpower requirements and
shipyards were more easily able to acquire their necessary quotas of workers. Within five months of this date the Oregon
shipyard increased its manpower from 27,800 to nearly 35,000 and only a few months later female workers represented more
than 31% of its total labor force. Overall, the yard had the highest rating for speed (number of ships delivered per
slipway) and it led in the lowest number of manhours per ship.
In 1944 this yard turned from Liberty ship construction to the production of Victory type ships.
Liberty ship output: 322 vessels at an average cost of $1,643,000 each.
|MCE 170-200 ||170-200 |
|229-240 ||229-240 |
|543-630 ||543-630 |
|1590-1631 ||631-672 |
|1747-1754 ||673-680 |
|2003-2098 ||681-776 |
|2245-2261 ||777-793 |
|2519-2537 ||794-812 |
|2568-2584 ||813-829 |
World War II Construction Records of the Oregon Shipbuilding Company
Electronic reproduction of "Record Breakers", a booklet published by Oregon Shipbuilding for its employees.
Electronic copies of The Bos'n's Whistle, the weekly newspaper published by Kaiser for the employees of its three Portland-area shipyards.