The work of the American shipyards has been a revelation to the world. Foremost among them is the Skinner Yard at Seattle, Washington, which pro duced during the year 26 ships on a five-way yard, spending between 72 and 84 days on each ship.
The Emergency Fleet Corporation undertook the building of yards and the expansion of existing plants. The Hog Island Shipyard, near Chester, Pa., has 50 ways of the most modern construction. The cost was in excess of $50,000,000.
The record of America in shipbuilding has been well stated by Mr. Edward N. Hurley, former chair man of the United States Shipping Board, in a maga zine article in 1918.
Two years ago we had no merchant marine worthy of the name engaged in overseas trade. The American flag flew over a total deadweight tonnage of 2,412,381 tons, but 80 per cent of this was coastwise and Great Lake shipping.
Now we are beginning to fulfil our destiny. We have in creased American built tonnage to over 4,000,000 dead weight tons. We have added 118 German and Austrian vessels, requisitioned 86 vessels from the DutCh, and char tered 215 vessels from neutral countries, giving us a total of more than 1,400 ships—a merchant fleet of 7,000,000 tons. We have established a shipbuilding industry that will make us a great maritime nation. When the present program is finished we hope to have about 9,5,000,000 tons of shipping 3,000 ships.
Comparatively little of our shipping was sunk by submarines and mines during the war. Over this period the United States lost a total of 155 vessels, documented and undocumented, with a total tonnage of 413,826 tons. Nearly all the American boats sunk were small. Only four measured above 10,000 tons and only twenty-three over 5,000.
15. Future of American Merchant Marine.—All signs point to a continued expansion of the merchant marine of the United States. A larger proportion of our foreign commerce is now being carried in Aineri can bottoms than at any time since the five-year decade ending in 1870. Thru the efficient work of the Ship ping Board regular sailings of American vessels have been established in some 41 trade routes. Most of
these trade routes are in trans-Atlantic, South Ameri can and other trades, some of which are situated in parts of the world where the American flag floating at the masthead of an American vessel has not been seen for more than a generation. In order that these routes may be made permanent the Shipping Board is establishing American bunkering stations and agen cies to handle American vessels and their cargoes while in foreign ports.
The future development of the merchant marine has been greatly aided by the passage by Congress of the Jones bill which provides for the promotion and main tenance of the merchant marine, repeals emergency legislation of the war and provides for the disposition of vessels and property now held by the Shipping Board.
Provision is made in the law for the sale of govern ment ships to citizens, payment to be made within a maximum period of 20 years and under terms and conditions laid down by the Board.
The Board is given power to set aside a portion of its fund from sales and operations, not over $50, 000,000, for a fund to be used for the construction of efficient types of vessels. This fund may also be used, to aid private persons in construction of vessels.
The Board is instructed to lay out new steamship lines and to specify the type, size and speed of vessels to be placed on such routes, arrange sailing schedules. etc. It may also study ports to arrive at the causes of congestion, the best means of coordinating rail and water facilities for the interchange of passengers and freight, advise communities regarding terminal de velopment and investigate river and harbor improve ment in relation to foreign and coastwise service.
Mail contracts, marine insurance, vessel classifica tion, the employment of seamen, their wages, rating and rights of action are other features of the law which come under the jurisdiction of the Shipping Board. By enlisting its activities in these directions for the next few years, the Shipping Board will be instru mental in reestablishing the American merchant ma rine in the place it occupied prior to the Civil War.