Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What WWI Shipbuilders Taught the U.S. About Building at Scale

If it's not in your vocab already, the shipyard at Hog Island needs to be. I learned about this facility during my 2016 train trip cross country when I visited the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.


via the National Museum of American History - Smithsonian (Washington, D.C.)

  • EFC (Emergency Fleet Corporation) created days after the U.S. enters WWI (1917)
  • Purpose to to construct a fleet of merchant ships
  • American International Shipbuilding Corporation is hired to build and operate the largest shipyard in the world.
  • "Hog Island" is that shipyard. Located near Philadelphia it stretches 1.25 miles along the Delaware River. 
  • 50 shipways, 250 buildings, 846 acres
  • 30,000 workers (most with no factory experience that received emergency job training)

Now for a few stats that jump out:

  1. New merchant ship built every 5.5 days during peak production
  2. Powered by prefabricated parts into the supply chain, the development of building complex large ships, quickly, at scale results.
  3. Most of the 30k factory works had no factory experience and received emergency job training
  4. Allows the U.S. to expedite ship building during WWII

Right after students learn about Henry Ford and the success of the assemble line, they need to learn about Hog Island.

Not so subtle plug for The Great War Channel (YouTube). Easily one of my favorite pieces of content being regularly published currently. I've long said history can be stranger than fiction, and subscribe that history repeats itself.  Seriously take a look.


The Great War Channel

  • Covers WWI 1914 - 1918, exactly 100 years ago, "week by week"
  • Format is approx 10 min video
  • Discusses side angles, and topics not covered in history text books and/or TV documentaries
  • War starts using 1870s tactics, but concludes with the technology and strategy that would be seen at the beginning of WWII 



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