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Friday, January 19, 2018

The Baltimore Dry Docks Ship Building Co

THE revival of the shipbuilding industry, which has come about during the past few years, restores to several historic seats of American shipbuilding the prestige of their former glorious and creative days, enhanced by the many advantages which result from the application of modern methods to that industry.

One of the chief beneficiaries of that revival is the port of Baltimore, which holds a notable place in shipbuilding history as the birthplace of the world-famous type of vessel known as the American "clipper ship," which was for many decades the pride of the Seven Seas, and held its sovereignty for long ocean voyages until the general introduction of steam propulsion for long as well as for short voyages.

The first vessel of that type was built at Baltimore in the yard which the late William Skinner established there about 1815. The firm became William Skinner & Sons, and under tfyat name the business was continued until 1899, when it was incorporated as The William Skinner & Sons Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company of Baltimore City. The yard of that company is now in greatly enlarged, modernized and vastly improved condition, known as the Upper Plant of The Baltimore Dry Docks and Ship Building Company.

With a yard located about a mile below that of William Skinner & Sons, the Columbian Iron Works and Dry Dock Company was engaged for years in the shipbuilding business. Early in the last decade of the Nineteenth Century the Holland submarine "Plunger," forerunner of the naval types of submarine which took such a conspicuous part in the recent world war, was built, and in 1896 the commercial submarine of Simon Lake, the inventor, known as the "Argonaut," was built at this yard. At this plant were also built the cruisers "Detroit" and "Montgomery," the gunboat "Petrel," the revenue cutter "Seminole," the torpedo boats "Foote," "Rodgers," "Winslow" and "McKee," and the ferryboats "Robert Garrett" and "Erastus Wiman," which at that time were the largest and most palatial ferryboats afloat.

This plant, now known as the Lower Plant of The Baltimore Dry Docks and Ship Building Company, was acquired by the consolidation in 1906 of the William Skinner & Sons Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company and the Columbian Iron Works and Dry Dock Company into a new corporation, known as The Skinner Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company of Baltimore City.

In 1914 the concern was reorganized under the present title of The Baltimore Dry Docks and Ship Building Company ni Hrlien A. Evans, who had become vice-president of The Skinner Shipbuilding and Dry Dock C:rrparty - " president of the new company, which has developed into Baltimore's foremost shipbuilding and ship repair organization, it .5 ir ::: :re the foremost in the country, arti :n t . pl=te- ness and thoroughly efficient arrangement of its facilities, and all that constit t. " . - the shipbuilding and ship repair rinks

with the best anywhere.

After the world war and the ruthless s_bm- rine campaign of Germany creatri - _ t ocean tonnage, which for a time pa:a>::i ::-- merce, the call for enlarged ship:....or.p an; repair facilities became so urgent tna it ra^Dfl tr capacity of every yard that was equipp ei - :rk of that kind.

Still more imperative and extensive heoatre the shipbuilding needs of the country when art; the declaration of war, the United States 5h p - Board established its Emergency Fier C rp ration, and laid out a building program execution needed a strong multipliea:::n the shipbuilding resources of the country. To par- ticipate in the carrying out of this program. The Baltimore Dry Docks & Ship Building Company acquired a tract of 36.5 acres, and in a few month? during the latter part of 1917 and the early par of 1918, by intensive building operations, constructed one of the most complete and mode- shipbuilding plants in this country, known as the "South Plant." The rapidity and completeness with which this fine plant was created, and the perfectly efficient way in which it has been iterated, from its opening to the present time, -enetr the American spirit, which, finding nothing rtp s- sible, overcame every obstacle and met every emergency.

The Baltimore Dry Docks & Ship Building Company now owns and operates three large , plants in Baltimore known as the Upper, Lower and South Plantsall ideally located and in close proximity to each other. Being right in the very heart of the shipping district, surrounded by piers, they are within easy reach of all ships coming into the Baltimore Harbor.

Upper Plant

The Upper Plant, comprising 9.6 acres, with excellent facilities for repairing ships with unusual dispatch, was founded about a century ago by the late William Skinner, and it was this plant that gave Baltimore the distinction of having built the famous "Clipper Fleet."

Here the 6io-foot drydock, which is able to accommodate the largest ship entering Baltimore Harbor, is served by two traveling cranes, operating on the south side of the dock. These cranes, vrhich have exceptionally lengthy booms, not only serve the port side of the ship being repaired, but can also swing material over the ship to the starboard side.

There are also two marine railways at this plant, on which bay craft and other smaller ships may be hauled out for repairs. The plant equipment at this yard consists of angle, punch, plate, pipe, blacksmith, carpenter, joiner and paint shops, which greatly facilitate the handling of materials.

There is also at this plant a building slip, on which ships up to 200 feet in length may be constructed. During 19x8 five mine sweepers were constructed here for the United States Navy, each 700 gross tons.

Lower Plant

This plant, which was formerly that of the Columbian Iron Works and Dry Dock Company, but has been greatly improved and enlarged in equipment under the present company, is a well- established shipbuilding and repair plant and comprises 13.5 acres.

Here the 437-foot drydock is served by four traveling cranes, which operate on both sides of.

the dock. This greatly facilitates the handling of material to be placed on the ship undergoing repairs, it being possible to put platrs ct :n b ::h the starboard and port sides of a vessel at the same time. Another striking feature of the Loer Plant, which expedites the handling of material, is the concentration of the shops. The machine, pipe, blacksmith and copper shops are all in close proximity to each other and to the drydock as well, so that any delay incident to the handling of steel plates, pipe, angles, etc., used to repair a vessel in drydock, from one shop to another and thence to the ship, is reduced to the lowest possible minimum. Still another valuable asset to this plant is its shear legs, which are used to lift heavy weights, such as boilers, pieces of machinery, etc. These shear legs, which are capable of lifting 100 tons, are built on a bulkhead at the end of a pier, so that vessels may be brought up alongside them to receive the heavy load to be handled.

Besides the large amount of repair work done at this plant during the year 1918 the Baltir more Dry Docks and Ship Building Company built there eight 6,200-t0n vessels, five of Avhich were equipped as refrigerators, for the United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation. At the present time (July, 1919) the company is building 6,ooo-ton oil tankers at this plant for the Emergency Fleet Corporation.

South Plant

This is a new plant, having been constructed during the latter part of 1917 and the early part of 1918. It occupies an area of 36.5 acres and is one of the most modern and complete shipbuilding plants in the country.

It contains four massive concrete building slips, two of which are 70 x 500 feet in dimensions and two 60 x 500 feet. They have a capacity for turning out twelve 8,800-ton ships per year, but are not limited to the construction of ships of this tonnage, as vessels up to 12,500 tons deadweight may be constructed upon them in their present condition. Ten thousand three hundred-ton oil tankers are now being built on these slips. The slips were constructed with a view to future extension, so that ships up to 15,000 tons deadweight could be built upon them without strengthening the present structure. The slips rest on 3,000 concrete piles, each pile capable of bearing safely a load of 27 tons.

The plant is so laid out that the raw material arriving in the material yard is carried through the layout shop, fabricating shop, assembly shop, out under the traveling tower cranes, to be placed in proper position in the hulls. As the material is received it is unloaded from the cars and distributed into permanent concrete and steel racks by locomotive cranes. From the material yard the material is taken into the main ship shop, where the plates and shapes are marked and laid out ready for the machines. In another division of this building are situated the Lysholm tables, with their punching machines, the shears, bending rolls and other tools for punching and shaping the plates and sections ready for the assembly shop, where the material is assembled and bolted together before being placed in the hull. Running parallel with the layout shop its entire length is a gantry crane, which picks up the material from the various tracks as it is sent out of the shops and places it at the head of the crane ways, which in turn pick up the material and lay it in its place in the hull on the launching ways.

Besides the ship shop and ways before mentioned, there are at this plant a three-story building, storehouse, heating plant, boiler shop and outfitting shops. An unusual feature of this plant is the fitting-out pier, 1,100 feet long, equipped with modern electric cranes for the rapid and economic handling of material for vessel outfitting. The joiner, carpenter and outfitting shops are on this pier and together with the crane facilities insure the fitting out of ships in minimum time after launching. At the end of this pier is a giant stiff-leg derrick, capable, at a 6o-foot radius, of lifting 85 tons. This derrick is used in placing the boilers and engines in the hulls of vessels.

As this plant is operated by individual motor- driven machinery, requiring 4,500 k.w., and as the material handled by cranes is almost entirely of steel, all wiring is underground. There are in the plant approximately fifteen miles of duct lines, and many miles of water, air, oil, heating and sewer lines. At this plant, although not completed until well along in 1918, there were built in that year two 8,8oo-ton vessels for the Emergency Fleet Corporation, and there are now building at that yard other cargo ships of the same size, as well as io^oo-ton oil tankers.

The building of this plant, under the conditions of labor and material shortage and other obstacles incident to the creation of such structures during the world war, was a prodigious undertaking, but in spite of everything that had to be overcome in its creation, the plant is of the most permanent construction. Tools, machinery, architecture and layout are of the best types known to the shipbuilding art. The South Plant gives to Baltimore a great resource for the building of modern ships fitted to form worthy factors in the new merchant marine of the United States.

Achievements and Organization

During the eighteen months beginning on January 1, 1918, twenty-one vessels have been launched from the three plants, sixteen of which have been delivered to and accepted by the Emergency Fleet Corporation and two have been accepted by the Navy Department, while the other three are rapidly being completed.

Besides shipbuilding, the plants are equipped for repair work upon the largest scale, and the company in this respect also holds the leading place in the port of Baltimore. It has an enviable record, not only for the best but also for some of the most rapid repair work.

The offices and plants of the company are located at Locust Point, Baltimore, and its officers are Holden Allen Evans, of Baltimore, pres:- dent; J. M. Willis, vice-president and general manager; George Allison, treasurer; Edwin W. Poe, secretary.

The company also maintains New York office. 1646-48 Equitable Building, 120 Broadway, for the transaction of the company's New York business. This office is prepared to submit tenders for repair work emanating from the New York district on short notice.

Maritime Reporter Magazine Cover Dec 2017 - The Great Ships of 2017

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