Building Ships on an Assembly Line

A no-narration documentary showing the construction of a Liberty ship in just 4 days, 15 hours, and 29 minutes. In part, this was an effort to set a record, but in reality, it was a demonstration of a feat that America’s hidebound shipbuilding industry – and the Maritime Administration – doubted was possible. Shipbuilding was, after all, the ultimate bespoke industry.

The film shows the Permanente Metals No. 2 Shipyard in Richmond, California (just north of Berkeley in the San Francisco Bay) assembling the ship from sections as heavy as 80 tons.

It is hard to appreciate today, in an era where industries are disrupted on an almost daily basis – what this represents. But it is part of a story about World War II that was almost forgotten – that  it was less a matter of tactics, or strategy, or logistics that won the war. What won the war at almost every turn was improvisation, adaptability, and chutzpah.

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