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mold loft

Marinship

When the United States had entered World War II on December 8, 1941, some extraordinary changes began to take place in communities all over the nation. For example, on March 3, 1942 Kenneth K. Bechtel of the Bechtel Corporation, working with Marin County residents Harry Allen, Ted Panton, and Fred Boole, selected a stretch of mudflats on the shores of Richardson Bay to build a shipyard. The Marinship Corporation, was formed to take advantage of contracts from the U. S. Maritime Commission to build liberty ships for the war effort.

The future site of Marinship was located at the north end of Sausalito, California and was just three miles (5 km) north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Six ship launching ways were planned, but the old Northwestern Pacific Railroad repair yard, purchased from Southern Pacific Railroad, and located at the base of Spring Street, was found to have inadequate space to accommodate this need. The loss of some ships in the Pacific by the Navy triggered the emergency need for even more ships by their customer the Maritime Commission. Using this as their legal reason, the new company took government war powers condemnation actions against local property owners, in order to add the additional land they needed to expand the shipyard.

With only two weeks notice, the many residents of Pine Point, a picturesque knoll located along the edge of the bay, were forced to evict by March 28, 1942. About 42 homes and buildings were to be removed. At least 12 homes avoided demolition by being rapidly moved elsewhere in Sausalito before the rest were razed and Pine Point was dynamited. Records show that an estimated of earth and rock were excavated from Pine Point, Waldo Point and nearby areas. The resulting fill was spread using heavy equipment across the shoreline and tidal mudflats to create new land on which the various buildings of the shipyard were rapidly constructed. Some of these buildings are still in use today, including as the Industrial Center Building (ICB) at 480 Gate Five Road (originally the Yard Office and Mold Loft Building) and the Schoonmaker Building at 10 Libertyship Way (originally the General Shop).

It is remarkable to note that only three months after the onset of construction on the shipyard, the first ship keel was laid for the Liberty Ship "William A Richardson" on June 27,1942.

To accomplish the rapid construction of the shipyard, 2,000 workers worked in shifts around the clock. Approximately 26,000 pilings were driven into the bay mud to create the shipways and to support the new warehouses and fabrication workshops. A wide by long deepwater ship channel was dredged in Richardson Bay to allow the newly launched vessels to reach the main portion of San Francisco Bay. Creating this channel required the removal of of bay mud.

In a related effort, the creation of Marin City, adjacent to the North end of the shipyard and just across Highway 1, was brought about by the need for the rapid construction of guest worker housing. Housing for 6,000 was created in Marin City, along with supporting schools, stores and churches. Workers eager to take advantage of the well-paying wartime jobs, flocked to the West Coast from all over the United States to work at the various shipyards, including Marinship. Six Liberty Ships had been launched from Marinship by the first anniversary of the declaration of war. The Liberty Ship, designed as an "emergency" type cargo ship, was long and abeam. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt nicknamed them his "ugly ducklings." After 15 Liberty Ships were launched at Marinship, the shipyard was retooled to produce the larger T2-SE-A2 tankers, which were long, and abeam. On June 16, 1945, Marinship set a world record by constructing and delivering the tanker "S.S. Huntington Hills" in a mere 33 days, with 28 days on the way and 5 days of fitting out after launch. At its peak, 20,000 workers were employed at Marinship. In the 3.5 years that Marinship was active, it launched 15 Liberty Ships, 16 Fleet Oilers, and 62 Tankers -- a total of 93 ships.

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