Chapter VI
Bureau of Ships

Origin and Early History

The Bureau of Ships as such was chronologically the youngest of the Bureaus. It was formed in 1940 by merging the Bureaus of Construction and Repair, and Engineering. However, its component elements go back to the beginning of the Bureau system in 1942 when the Bureau of Construction, Equipment and Repair was created as one of the five original bureaus. That Bureau had cognizance of the design, construction, outfitting, and repair of ships including their mechanical installations, with the exception of ordnance. This included the gradual introduction of stem in the place of sails for the propulsion of ships.

Sails remained, however, the principal means of propulsion until the Civil War highlighted the advantages of steam propulsion for all warships, particularly for Union ships blockading Confederate ports. Although, in 1841, two side-wheel steamers, Mississippi and Missouri, had been added to the Navy; and in 1843, the USS Princeton, the first screw-propelled warship, had been completed, steam propulsion was still in its infancy in the Navy.

The marine engineering work of the Bureau of Construction, Equipment, and repair, during the twenty years of its existence, was handled by a division of that Bureau manned by officers of the Engineer Corps, which had been created shortly before the adoption of the Bureau system. However, with the growing importance of steam propulsion, the officers of that Corps demanded greater control over their work.

This led Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles to sponsor, in 1862, and increase in the number of bureaus and a redistribution of their duties. In the reorganization, the duties of the Bureau of Construction, Equipment, and Repair were divided among three new bureaus; the Bureau of Construction and Repair, the Bureau of Steam Engineering, and the Bureau of Equipment. No sooner had the system with its larger number of bureaus begun to operate than some of the administrative troubles that were to


plague the Navy Department for the nest eighty years, began to appear. Basically, the problems encountered had their roots in the difficulty of coordinating the functions and responsibilities of the three bureaus where they touched in the design and building of ships, and later in controlling their alterations and upkeep in service. In the attempt to follow the Bureau system literally, problems in the management of Navy Yards also arose.

The principal duty of the new Bureau of Construction and Repair was the design, construction, and maintenance of ships. This included responsibility for their stability, strength, seaworthiness, and other qualities to fit them for the performance of their functions. This involves the integration of a host of technical and operating considerations into the design and construction of the ship as a whole. The Bureau of Construction and Repair had this responsibility, but it did not have the authority to control fully such characteristics once they had been determined upon nor to require the other bureaus to adhere during the construction of the ships to their estimates of weight, space, and location of the things under their cognizance. This resulted in much dissension between the technical bureaus augmented by disputes over cognizance. Thus, within a short time the Secretary of the Navy, Congress, and many naval officers began to realize that an unsound decision had been made in splitting up the responsibilities and authority of the original Bureau of Construction, Equipment, and Repair, between three co-equal bureaus.

As practically no new construction was undertaken by the Navy Department for some years after the Civil War the full effect of the fragmentation of the Bureau of Construction, Equipment and Repair did not make itself felt until the rebirth of the Navy in the early 80's. In 1883 in his Annual Report, Secretary of the Navy William E. Chandler recommended the formation of a single Bureau of Naval Construction by combining the Bureau of Construction and repair and the Bureau of Steam Engineering.1 In 1885 Secretary William C. Whitney recommended that all material responsibilities, including ordnance, be placed in one bureau, to be called the Bureau of Material and Construction. In 1886 Admiral David D. Porter recommended combining the Bureaus of Construction and Repair, and Steam Engineering into a single bureau. Nothing came of these proposals, but they were only the beginning of an almost continuous stream of recommendations by Secretaries of the Navy, naval officers, Congress, and various Boards to consolidate in one from or another the ship design, building, and maintenance activities of the Navy Department.


Not that there was unanimity of opinion on the details but it was clear that there was dissatisfaction with the change that had been made in 1862.

In 1890, Secretary Tracy set up the Board of Construction composed of the Chiefs of the Bureaus of Construction and Repair, Steam Engineering, Equipment, Ordnance, and yards and Docks to deal with such matters and with navy yard development. This Board was in existence for twenty years but finally died of disuse became it was not a statutory Board and the Secretary of the Navy was under no obligation to refer matters to it. Furthermore, the Bureaus, with the exception of the Bureau of Construction and Repair, had nothing much to gain by airing their administrative troubles before the Board. In 1899 Secretary John D. Long recommended the consolidation of the Bureaus of Construction and Repairs, Steam Engineering, and Equipment, but again nothing came of the recommendation.2

Secretary of the Navy Truman Newberrry, during his short term of office from late in 1908 to March 4, 1909, was the next to make a serious effort to improve administration, especially with respect to the management of the navy yards. Among other steps he appointed the Chief of the Bureau of Construction and Repair, Rear Admiral W.L. Capps, (C.C.), USN, to additional duty as Chief of the Bureau of Steam Engineering when the term of the incumbent Chief expired, but the appointment was declared illegal. In January 1909, he recommended to President Theodore Roosevelt a complete reorganization of the Navy Department under three divisions, one of which was to consist of a consolidation of the Bureaus of Construction and Repair, Steam Engineering, Equipment, and Ordnance. President Roosevelt appointed the Moody Board to study the plan. The Board agreed with Secretary Newberry from the administrative point of view, but as he went out of office when a new President took office in March 1909 nothing was done to carry out the recommendations.

The Aide System under Secretary Meyer followed the attempt at reorganization of Secretary Newberry. With the outbreak of World War I in Europe in 1914, reorganization took the form in 1915 of adding a Chief of Naval Operations to the Navy Department administrative machinery. From then on, until World War II, many proposals for changing the organization of the Navy Department administrative machinery. From then on, until World War II, many proposals for hanging the organization of the Navy Department were put forth by various Secretaries of the Navy and by Congress. They revolved mainly around attempts to clarify the relationships of the Chief of Naval Operations with the bureaus, and his authority over the bureaus. Although proposals ]usually included recommendations for modifying and even abolishing the


Bureau system, the consensus of opinion of the Navy itself was to retain the bureaus. A brief description of the various plans that were under consideration was included in the Chapter on the "Chief of Naval Operations--Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Fleet" and need not be repeated here.3

The Bureau of Construction and Repair took the lead in advocating improvements in the management of Navy Yards, broadly as contemplated by Secretary Newberry in 1909, with the Bureau of Engineering falling in line eventually. Coverage of that phase of Navy Department administration will be found in Chapter XIII on "The Shore Establishment" in this work. The steps leading up to the addition of the Bureau of Aeronautics to the Bureau system in which the Bureau of Construction and Repair played an important role are described in Chapter IX on "Bureau of Aeronautics." These were instances of the flexibility of the Bureau system as an efficient tool of Navy Department administration, but there still remained the handicap of having the shipbuilding functions of the Navy Department split up among several bureaus.

During the lull in naval construction and the decline in the shipbuilding industry in general that came after World War I, climaxed by the Washington Treaty for the Limitation of Naval Armaments in 1922, the handicap imposed by this fault in organization was not too important,but it again became serious with the revival of shipbuilding in the 1930's. It will be helpful to an understanding of this aspect of Navy Department administration in World War II to review at this point the shipbuilding situation in the United States, during the decade following the first of the naval imitation treaties, and the revival of naval construction in the decade preceding the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Decline in Shipbuilding After World War I

Under the terms of the Washington Treaty the United States scrapped a large part of its Navy. Of even greater significance for the future was the indifference and even hostility toward the Navy that the treaty engendered in the public mind. An example of unrealistic thinking and isolationism prevalent in the United States during the following decade is an item that appeared in the Congressional Record of July 19, 1930:

"Following that conference (Washington) and up to January 1, 1929 the great powers of the world laid down and appropriated for naval expansion as follows: Japan, 125 naval vessels; Great Britain, 74 naval vessels; France, 119; Italy, 82; and, to the everlasting credit of our own country, the United States, exclusive of small river gunboats, 11." (Speech in U.S. Senate by Senator David I. Walsh (D), Mass.)


The amazing aspect of this statement is the pride taken in the fact that the United States had neglected completely its stake in sea power.

During the years from 1922 to 1930 expenditures for new naval construction never exceeded $40,000,000 in any one year and in 1926 the appropriations and expenditures fell to a low of some $17,000,000. In 1930 at London the parties to the 1922 Treaty agreed upon further limitations with respect to cruisers, destroyers, and submarines. Actually the United States adopted a policy of keeping the Navy at even less strength than allowed by the treaties.

Serious as was the decline in relative naval strength suffered by the United States, due to the limitation agreements an equally serious matter was the setback to the shipbuilding industry. By 1933, only six private shipyards capable of building anything as large as destroyers and submarines remained in existence on tidewater; the three large yards, Bethlehem, New York Ship, and Newport News; and the three smaller companies, Bath Iron Works, Federal, and Electric Boat. Six navy yards had some new construction; Portsmouth, Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Norfolk, Puget Sound. Mare Island had its ups and downs and Charleston was practically closed. Commercial shipbuilding in this period suffered as much and more than naval shipbuilding. When the Maritime Commission came into existence on 16 April 1937 only nine new cargo vessels of 2,000 tons or over had been constructed in the United States during the preceding ten years. While the country ranked third in tonnage engaged in international trade, it ranked fourth as to speed of its vessels and last among the principal maritime nations in point of modernity of its ships.

The severity of the falling off in naval shipbuilding is illustrated by the fact that after the completion of what was left of the World War I programs and the completion of the Lexington and Saratoga as aircraft carriers, the construction of a small number of cruisers, destroyers, and submarines represented the sum of new naval construction until 1933. The Cramp Shipbuilding Company in Philadelphia, which had been one of the big yards, closed when it finished its share of the World War I program. Bath had also closed but reopened after having been reorganized to take on the construction of a single destroyer. The Electric Boat Company continued a precarious existence by building a few submarines, one at a time. The New York Shipbuilding Corporation went through several reorganizations but was kept open largely by the conversion of the Saratoga to an aircraft carrier.

Newport News remained in existence largely because its owner was willing to cover losses. The Bethlehem Fore River plant was protected from closure through the support on several occasions of its parent steel company. Fortunately, also, after completing the Lexington as an aircraft


carrier, Fore River received some naval contracts which kept it in operation through the difficult years. A trickle of naval contracts kept these plants going as there was practically no merchant shipbuilding. After Newport News delivered the West Virginia in 1923 it had no Navy work until it received contracts for the cruiser Huston and Augusta in 1927. These contracts followed by the one for the Ranger kept some Navy work at the yard until the revival started in 1933.

At one time or another during the period after World War I new construction disappeared completely from every navy yard except Portsmouth. The New York Navy Yard was without new construction from 1922 to 1926 and again during four months in 1930. Puget Sound was in a similar situation between 1924 and 1926. Philadelphia had a period of six years between 1924 and 1930 without laying a keel. Completing its last World War I ship in 1924, Boston received no0 more new construction until 1932. Norfolk and Charleston had no new construction from the end of their World War I programs until the NIRA [National Industrial Recovery Act--one of the New Deal's earliest responses to the Great Depression] program of 1933.

During the 1920's, shipbuilding, both in government yards and in the private industry, had reached such a low ebb that it ceased to be attractive either to men or to investment capital. One of the most serious handicaps to a revival of shipbuilding was the lack of incentives for young men to take up the study of naval architecture and marine engineering at college or as mechanics in the specialist trades involved in shipbuilding. During the decade of decline the drafting and design forces shrank in all of the private as well as in government shipbuilding yards, with a general drift of experienced men into other fields of engineering and manual employment. When the cruiser program came along in 1930 and was awarded to the big three shipbuilders not one of them possessed sufficient design and drafting personnel to get out the working plans so that it became necessary to establish a central design force as a subsidiary corporation to the shipyards. A similar method was adopted for getting out the working plans of the New Orleans class of cruisers in 1930 by establishing a central drafting office at the New York navy Yard. This office furnished the plans for building one each of the four cruisers at the navy yards New York, Philadelphia, Mare Island, and Puget Sound.

The preparation of working plans by a central agency was adopted also for getting out the working plans of destroyers awarded under the NIRA program of 1933 to the Federal Shipbuilding Company, United Drydocks, and the Bath Iron Works. Gibbs and Cox of New York had been employed by Federal the year before to get out the plans of the Farragut class of destroyers and now became the Design Agents for later destroyers, and for other ship. By this method, the optimum use was made of the comparatively small number of naval architects, ship power plant designers,


electrical engineers, and other technical specialists, in the United States, trained and experienced in making the working plans for building ships, and their propulsion and auxiliary machinery. The Design Agent was, however, somewhat handicapped by not having on the spot access to the shops and building ways where the ships were actually under construction. This handicap was overcome to a considerable extent by providing mock-ups at the Design Agent's headquarters of certain parts of the ship as an aid in making the working plans.

The Design Agent method made it practicable to place contracts for landing craft and other small ships in plants that could not possibly have undertaken their construction if they had had to make their own working plans.

In order to avoid misunderstanding, it should be mentioned that the making of working plans is quite distinct from determining the characteristics of a new design, making preliminary and contract plans, and preparing the overall specifications for the construction of the ship. These were functions of the Bureau of Construction and Repair, later of the Bureau of Ships, and could be performed only in Washington at the headquarters of the Navy Department.

The steps that had to be taken in Washington by the Bureau of Ships to perform its part of the plan-making function are described later on in the chapter under "Design Division."

In 1933 President Roosevelt allocated $238,000,000 for naval defense purposes from the relief funds granted him by Congress under NIRA appropriations. From these funds there were laid down 2 aircraft carriers, 4 cruisers,20 destroyers, and 4 submarines. In 1934 Congress passed the Vinson-Trammell Act which authorized further new construction up to the full limit allowed by the naval treaties. The authorized construction while not providing any considerable expansion in naval strength resulted in modernizing and replacing obsolete vessels. The act established a new naval policy in that it authorized the permanent maintenance of the Navy at treaty strength and provided that naval ships be replaced when they became over age. It contained, however, one clause which discouraged new capital from entering the shipbuilding business; a provision that all profits made by shipbuilders on naval contracts in excess of then percent of the contract price be returned to the Treasury. Actually under the rigid cost accounting interpretation of the law by the Navy Department the shipbuilders could not make a profit of anything like ten percent on naval contracts.4


Thus, when the Naval Armament Limitation Treaties were abrogated as of 31 December 1936 and the United States embarked on a naval construction program calculated to make good the neglect of the past fifteen years, the Navy Department found a shipbuilding industry that was weak financially, obsolescent as to plant facilities, and out of favor among young men as an engineering profession. The shipbuilding trades had also steadily lost ground since World War I.

Naval appropriations were stepped up immediately after the treaty limitations expired. The appropriation for shipbuilding for the fiscal year 1936 was upward of $133,000,000 as compared to $41,000,000 for the fiscal year 1935. President Roosevelt in his message to Congress in 1938 recommended an increase of twenty per cent in naval strength exclusive of the replacements permitted under the Vinson-Trammell Act of 1934. Congress authorized, also, the construction of twenty-six auxiliary vessels. The Navy was particularly short in this category of ships. An appropriation of $15,000,000 was also authorized to be expended at the discretion of the President for experimenting with light surface craft. On June 14, 1940 Congress passed the eleven percent Naval Expansion Act and under date of July 1 of that year authorized the two-ocean Navy representing a seventy percent increase.

Merger of Shipbuilding Bureaus

The revival of Naval Shipbuilding in the 1930's triggered by the Vinson-Trammell Act again brought to the fore the disadvantages of divided authority and responsibility in the design, construction, and upkeep of naval ships. Advances in power plant engineering for ships added to the difficulty of keeping the problems under control.

The Bureau of Engineering had adopted high pressure, high temperature boilers and machinery for the destroyers of the Mahan class in the 30's and decided to go even further in the next class. This resulted in arguments between the Bureau of Engineering and the Board of Inspection and Survey as to the wisdom of the characteristics adopted. Aside from that question, uncertainty as to the weight of the new installations entered the picture. That is always a matter for concern when radical changes in design are made in big strikes. The paramount responsibility of the design agent5 in the matter of weight was to the Bureau of Construction and Repair, but he had also to satisfy the Bureau of Engineering as to the performance of the machinery for the new class.

In April 1939, the first of the ships, the destroyer Anderson (DD-409),


having the new machinery was put through the inclining experiment. This showed that the vessel was some 150tons heavier than the original weight estimates furnished by the design agent,and that the metacentric height in light condition was considerably less than for earlier destroyers; thus resulting in impairment of stability. Analysis of the data indicated that the overweight could not be attributed to items under the cognizance of any one Bureau, but that with the exception of about 9 tons overweight in ordnance equipment it was divided almost equally between items under the cognizance respectively of the Bureaus of Construction and Repair, and Engineering. A second inclining experiment confirmed the earlier one.6 While correction of the impaired stability was not too difficult by accepting a greater displacement than originally planned, the press found the news to its liking and made much of it, as indicating that there was something wrong with the organization and administration of the Navy Department.

A major controversy arose also in the Navy Department over the responsibility for the overweight condition. Secretary Edison, in a letter of 3 January 1940 to Chairman Walsh of the Senate Naval Affairs Committee, in summarizing the episode, stated that he considered the Bureau of Construction and Repair primarily at fault because that Bureau had the responsibility for the design and stability of naval ships.7

The Chief of the Bureau of Construction and Repair acknowledged this responsibility, but pointed out that the organization and the distribution of duties among the respective Bureaus did not vest in the Bureau of Construction and Repair sufficient authority to carry out this responsibility; that actually, the Bureau of COnstruction and repair had to depend on the bona fides of the other Bureaus not to exceed the estimated weights and heights of center of gravity originally submitted by them for the parts of the ship coming under their cognizance; that the Bureau of Construction and Repair had no authority to enforce compliance with these originally agreed upon figures. In fact it could not have enforced compliance without supervising the working plans of the other Bureaus during their preparation. This was actually the procedure the Bureau of Construction and Repair had to follow for its own portion of the working plans. The design agent (or the shipyard, in case the working plans were being made by the latter) was also in an anomalous and difficult position because he had to serve a number of masters even though his paramount responsibility was to the Bureau of Construction and Repair for the satisfactoriness of the design as a whole.


Secretary Edison seems, at first, to have thought that this episode had its roots in the clashing personalities of the Chiefs of the Bureau, the head of the Board of Inspection and Survey, and the design agent. Later, he came to the conclusion that faulty organization was the real culprit.8 Under date of 11 August 1939 he issued a directive to the Chiefs of the Bureaus of Construction and Repair, and Engineering as follows:

It is hereby directed that there be established within the Bureaus of Construction and Repair, and Engineering a consolidation of the existing separate Design Divisions of the two Bureaus.

It is further directed that the Bureaus submit to the Acting Secretary of the Navy, for his approval, an administrative plan for effecting this consolidation and not later than September 1, 1939.

The Chiefs of the Bureaus9 did not agree on the form which the consolidation of the Design Divisions should take. The Secretary, thereupon, under date of 31 August 1939 appointed a Board to review the plans submitted.10

The Board, in its report dated 12 September 1939, stressed the importance of consolidating the two design divisions but went on record that such a consolidation was not sufficiently far reaching. It recommended, instead, the complete unification and consolidation of the two Bureaus, pointing out that otherwise the potentially difficult situation would be created of a design division being responsible to two co-equal but independent superiors. Secretary Edison acted on this recommendation on 13 September 1939 by appointing Rear Admiral S.M. Robinson, Chief of the Bureau of Engineering. On the following day he appointed him as Coordinator of Shipbuilding also. On 18 September he appointed Rear Admiral A.H. Van Keuren Chief of the Bureau of Construction and Repair and Assistant Coordinator of Shipbuilding on 21 September 1939. These appointments were a temporary expedient to effect the merger contemplated. Under date of 27 September 1939 Secretary Edison directed the two new Bureau Chiefs to make such internal organizational changes as necessary for the joint operation of the two Bureaus. These steps had, of course, to have the approval of the President which was readily obtained by the Secretary of the Navy.

Thus, early in October 1939, the two Bureaus were consolidated so far as it was possible to go by administrative action under existing law. They


were not yet a single Bureau, but rather two Bureaus, each with legally assigned cognizance and responsibilities and operating under separate appropriations. They were still required to maintain complete documentary records of interbureau transactions and to issue directives to field activities and letters to other activities over the joint signatures of the two Bureau Chiefs or their authorized representatives.

A bill was drafted for submission to Congress to consolidate the two Bureaus in all respects. As so often happens with measures of this kind, other provisions having little to do with the principal purpose of the bill were added.It will be recalled also that the Chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee, Carl Vinson, had at this time a proposal before the Committee to combine all of the technical Bureaus as the proposed merger of the two Bureaus did not, in his opinion, go far enough. The Secretary of the Navy and the Navy sponsors for the bill would have welcomed the inclusion of the Bureau of Ordnance in the merger, but it was feared that if too much were attempted at one time the measure might fail altogether. The General Board, in commenting on Carl Vinson's bill recommended retaining the Bureau system and favored combining only the Bureaus of Construction and Repair, and Engineering into a single Bureau to be known as the Bureau of Ships.11

The Secretary of the Navy in commenting on the Vinson proposal12 recommended the establishment of a Chief of Shore Operations who would have duties and responsibilities for the industrial shore establishments similar to those of the Chief of Naval Operations in the operation of the Fleet. Coupling this recommendation with the one for the creation of the new Bureau of Ships slowed down action very considerably. The two proposals formed the basis of congressional hearings that commenced on 26 February 1940 and continued intermittently until 19 April 1940 with the one for the Office of Shore Operations receiving the most attention. The bill to establish the Bureau of Ships received the almost unanimous backing of the various Navy Department activities and survived; the other proposals were dropped.

During the course of the hearings the subject of transferring the cognizance of at least, armor protection, from the Bureau of Ordnance to the Bureau of Ships was raised many times as there were good arguments for placing armor under the shipbuilding Bureau. As, however, the Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance13 objected it was considered best by the


sponsors of the bill not to press the matter as it might have resulted in no consolidation whatsoever; but Secretary Edison believed so strongly in including armor that he transferred its cognizance to the new Bureau of Ships when it was created. After the Chief of Naval Operations and Mr. Vinson objected, President Roosevelt over-rode the directive of the Secretary on 24 June 1940, thus leaving armor in the Bureau of Ordnance.

After a number of delays the bill establishing the Bureau of Ships was passed on 20 June 1940.14 It contains the following significant provision, "The Chief of the Bureau of Ships shall be appointed . .  from among officers of the active list of the Navy who are specially qualified and experienced in naval engineering or naval architecture. . . . An officer on the active list of the Navy who is specially qualified and experienced in naval engineering or naval architecture shall be detailed as Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Ships. . . . Provided that if the Chief of the Bureau of Ships be specially qualified and experienced in naval engineering the Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Ships be specially qualified and experienced in naval architecture, and vice versa." The purpose was to insure the appointment of technically competent officers to these positions and to prevent either group from dominating the new Bureau.

Considerable space has been devoted to the creation of the Bureau of Ships15 because it illustrates what the sponsors of the World War II history program had in mind when they stressed, as one of its objectives, the possible lessons to be learned from the experiences of the war. It is clear from the record that splitting up the functions of the original Bureau of Construction, Equipment and Repair in 1962 started a long line of administrative troubles for the Navy Department that might have been avoided. Upward of 80 years were taken to correct this fault in organization notwithstanding its recognition by almost every Secretary of the Navy during that period. It illustrates the ease with which an error in organization and procedures can be made, especially under the stress of war (in this case the Civil War) and the difficulty of correcting it afterward.

Once the new Bureaus were established in n1862 their personnel soon took pride in the work assigned to them and acquired the esprit de corps that goes with competence and work well done. Esprit de corps, intangible as it may be, is particularly important in the armed services, but it must have its roots in sound principles of organization and administration.

If it had not been for the high ideals of public service, hard common sense, and persistence of certain naval officers coupled with the effective leadership at the right moment of Secretary of the Navy Charles Edison,


the effort for consolidation in 1940 would again have failed.16 If it had failed the handicap to the Navy Department's war effort would have been catastrophic. Fundamentally, the lesson to be learned from this long drawn out effort at improvement in administration is that responsibility without commensurate authority is a certain breeder of administrative troubles.


Much thought had been given to the organization of the new Bureau even before the merger became law on 20 June 1940. The organization decided upon, and approved by Rear Admiral S.M. Robinson, Chief of the Bureau, on 15 August 1940, is shown on Figure 10 It will be noted that it consisted of five main divisions, and some twenty sections that provided technical service to all divisions. The names of the divisions, of the subdivisions or branches, and of the sections broadly indicated their functions, but some further description is desirable in the interests of clarifying the nature of their work.

Full lines on the chart represent direct administrative authority over activities and the technical responsibility for their work; broken lines, a relationship that did not include administrative authority over the activity. The lines show that only the Design Division had administrative authority over the technical sections, but that all divisions made calls on them for technical assistance. This arrangement avoided duplicating technical personnel and resulted in uniform policies in such matters. For example, the Boiler Section recommended to the Design Division the boiler installations for projected naval vessels; it advised the War Plans Division on boiler requirements for merchant vessels being considered for transfer to the Navy; it recommended to the Shipbuilding Division the award of contracts for boilers to be installed on ships under construction at navy yards and it made recommendations to the Maintenance Division when repairs and alterations to boilers on ships in service were under consideration.

The Administrative Division had five branches as shown on the Chart: Public Relations, including the handling of Bureau publication and the carrying out of security measures; Officer Personnel in collaboration with the Bureau of Personnel, in the appointment, education, training and other matters concerning officers and their assignments to duty; Civilian Personnel, including the recruitment, classification, and promotion of civilian


Fig. 10--Organization of Bureau of Ships (15 Aug 1940
Fig. 10--Organization of Bureau of Ships (15 Aug. 1940)


Rear Admiral Samuel M. Robinson
Rear Admiral Samuel M. Robinson (later Admiral)
Chief of Bureau of Engineering, Sept. 1939-June 1940;
Chief of Bureau of Ships, June 1940-Feb. 1942;
head of OP&M for remainder of war.

personnel in the Bureau, and in its field activities; a Finance Branch charged with the preparation of the Bureau's budgets, the handling of its appropriations, and the allocation and accounting for the funds appropriated to the Bureau; an Officer Manager, responsible for the management of the mail service, correspondence filing, messenger service, and all general housekeeping duties in the Bureau.

The War Plans Division had four branches, as shown on the chart, all dealing broadly with the peacetime planning for war, including such matters as industrial mobilization, merchant ship conversion, etc.


The Shipbuilding Division consisted of four branches: the Contract Branch which handled all commercial legal matters involved in making contracts for ships to be built by the private industry, including review and recommendations on proposed legislation affecting the work of the Bureau; a Shipbuilding Facilities Branch, which maintained records of existing and projected Class I shipbuilding facilities in the United States, and handled the bureau's interests in the Shore Station Development Board, and the annual machine tool and equipment projects; the Procurement Branch, which handled matters relating to awards of contracts for materials and equipment of al kinds, including their inspection, delivery, stocking, and disposition; the Progress and Estimating Branch, which was responsible for making monthly progress reports on ships under construction or conversion, analyzing in that connection the causes of delays and probable future delays, and maintained cost records and prepared estimates of cost, for use by the personnel engaged in placing contracts by negotiation.

The Maintenance Division was divided into a Ship Maintenance Branch, and Equipment Branch, and a Salvage Branch. It was responsible for all the overhaul and alteration programs of ships in service in collaboration with OpNav. Ships Type Desks were set up as part of its operating mechanism, which standardized maintenance procedures so far as possible for the various classes of ships. The officers in charge of the type desks worked closely with the other divisions in the Bureau and with OpNav.

The Design Division was the most difficult one to fit into the new organization. Its functions as already pointed out had been at the center of an eighty year old trouble spot in Navy Department administration. As set up in the organization of 15 August 1940 shown on Figure 10, it consisted of five branches and 18 technical sections reporting to its Director.

Its Research Branch, with a few exceptions, was responsible for all research carried on under the cognizance of the Bureau of Ships, including the Bureau's research establishments such as the Model Basin, the Naval Research Laboratory, the Boiler and Turbine Laboratory, the Naval Engineering Experiment Station and other testing and research facilities of lesser importance.

The Radio Branch was responsible for research, development, procurement, testing, installation, and maintenance of all radio and underwater sound equipment, including research facilities such as the Underwater Sound Laboratory and others.

The other three branches of the Division, known as Preliminary Design, Contract Design, and Development Design, were concerned directly with getting out the designs and specifications for new ships and ships scheduled for modernization. The early stages of the work were handled


by the Preliminary Design Branch. This Branch assisted the General Board and the Chief of Naval Operations in arriving at a set of optimum characteristics for performing the mission of the ship under consideration. For this purpose various studies were made for the General Board, sometimes as many as 50 in the case of radical departures from the former design for the same type of ship before a decision was reached by the General Board and the CNO on characteristics. The General Board called hearings on new designs, attended by representatives of CNO, the other Bureaus, and offices of the Navy Department.

When all features of the design had been discussed and the General Board and CNO had reached a decision the General Board drew up a directive covering the military characteristics decided upon. The Preliminary Design Branch then established the lines and body plan, developed general arrangement plans, and made the necessary strength calculations to permit a weight estimate. A model was then towed in the Model Basin to provide a closer estimate of the shaft horsepower needed to drive the ship at the desired speed. Changes in the lines were often found necessary. Calculations to determine that the stresses in the structure of the ship would be acceptable were made at the same time. This was followed by the preparation of stability curves for various conditions of loading and flooding that might result from damage to the underwater body of the ship.

When all of these calculations and checks had been made and it was reasonably certain that the ship could be built to the stipulated characteristics, the design was turned over to the Contract Design Branch. That Branch consisted of hull, machinery, and electrical drafting rooms, Ships' Specifications Sections for hull and machinery. Weight Section, Stability and Computing Section, and other sections dealing with the various engineering sciences involved in shipbuilding.

Contract plans and specifications were then prepared in the Contract Design Branch. During this process there was continuous consultation with the other Bureaus with respect to features under their cognizance, especially with a view to firming up their weight requirements. When satisfactory agreement had been reached the Secretary of the Navy gave the design his final approval. He was consulted throughout the design-making process and was often called upon to make decisions on matters involving policy.

The Contract Plans had been standardized over the years and consisted of some 14 plans which formed the basis for the working plans. The latter were prepared by the shipbuilders, whether navy yard or commercial, following procedures described in previous pages. The preparation of the contract plans during peacetimes had taken from three to four months for a large combatant naval ship, and involved coordinating and correlating


the man engineering sciences involved in modern shipbuilding. It is a tribute to the proficiency and teamwork of the Bureau of Construction and Repair that made possible the preparation of complete preliminary designs in so short a time.

Up to 1940 the policy had been in the case of ships to be built by commercial yards to invite competitive bids for their construction based on contract plans and specifications prepared as described above. When the huge naval building programs were authorized by Congress in 1940 it became necessary to arrive at contracts by negotiation instead of by competitive bidding for reasons described in Chapter XX in this work entitled "Industrial Mobilization and Material Procurement." The change in method did not, however,lessen the need for contract plans and specifications. In fact, it increased by the importance of this step in the design-making function of the Bureau of Ships.

However, the preparation of Contract Plans and Specifications was only the beginning of the Bureau's functions in connection with the design and construction of naval ships. Only fourteen contract plans with general and detailed specifications were needed as the basis for making contracts, but thousands of working plans had to be made thereafter to build a large combatant ship. All of such plans and the materials and equipment purchased by the contractor for incorporation in the ship required the approval of the Bureau or of its representatives in the field. This in order to insure compliance with contract plans and specifications. The actual task of working plan-making and plan approval had over the hears been largely decentralized into the field, but the Bureau of C&R, later the Bureau of Ships, could not divest itself of the ultimate responsibility for producing satisfactory naval ships. Consequently a continuous stream of contractor representatives and correspondence requesting decisions, interpretations of requirements, and approval of plans began flowing into the Bureaus as soon as a contract was placed.

It was after the preliminary design stage had been passed that the major delays and causes of friction between the Bureaus of C&R and Engineering on the one hand, and the shipbuilders and the Bureaus on the other had arisen. Many of the arguments became very acrimonious, as will have been noted from the description of the events that led up to the merger of the two Bureaus. Mitigation of such troubles was immediately noticeable after the merger as, for one thing, the shipbuilders, the design agents, and all who had to do with producing the ships now had only a single shipbuilding bureau to deal with,and were therefore also less likely to become enmeshed in inter-departmental controversies. The effort to improve the preliminary design and working plan approval functions of the Bureau of Ships now moved to a new front.


Fig. 11: Chart--Organization of Bureau of Ships (23 Oct 1942)
Fig. 11--Organization of Bureau of Ships (23 Oct 1942)


Rear Admiral Alexander H. Van Keuren
Rear Admiral Alexander H. Van Keuren

Chief of Bureau of Construction and Repair, Sept. 1939-June 1940;
Chief of Bureau of Ships, Feb. 1942-Nov. 1942;
Director NRL, Nov. 1942-Nov. 1945.

It was recognized very soon after the merger that administering "design" and "shipbuilding" in separate divisions under separate heads did not provide integration of the kind necessary to guard against avoidable delays in the construction of ships. The avoidance of delays was of cardinal importance during the war as time was of the essence in building up the strength of the Fleet. Until approved working plans were available the hands of the Shipbuilding Division, and more importantly of the shipbuilders, were tied. Expediting plans became a principal preoccupation of the head of the Shipbuilding Division but he had no direct authority over


the preparation and approval of either contract or working plans. The answer was the transfer of the Design Division to the Shipbuilding Division as one of its branches and to give the head of that Division authority over the Bureau's design activities as a whole. In this way the design function was placed in proper relationship to shipbuilding instead of being regarded as an end in itself, as sometimes happened.

This was brought about by the reorganization shown on Figure 11, dated 23 October 1942, signed by Rear Admiral A.H. Van Keuren, USN, the Chief of the Bureau of Ships. The organization again consisted of five principal Divisions: Administrative, Finance, Shipbuilding, Maintenance, and Radio. There was no change in the overall responsibilities of the Bureau, but war experience, changes in the relative importance of the Bureau's various functions, and the enormous expansion necessary to carry the war workload were the causes for the reorganization and redistribution of duties.

In the new organization, the Shipbuilding Division was composed of three Branches: A Design Branch, a Contract Branch, and a Construction Branch. The duties of the Design Branch were the same as before, when it was a separate Division. However, as it was now part of the Shipbuilding Division, the head of that Division could control is contract plan-making and working plan approval functions with a view to expediting the construction of ships.

The Radio Division was stepped up and expanded from a Branch of the former Design Division to the status of a separate Division. This, because of the enormous growth and increase in importance of electronics and underwater sound in their many applications to naval warfare. Rapid strides in the development of radar by both the Naval Research Laboratory and the National Defense Research Committee, and the urgent need for countermeasures to enemy use of radar and radio communications demanded special attention. This was true also of the need for developing new underwater sound techniques for use particularly in the antisubmarine war in the Atlantic. In 1940 BuShips spent only about 6 million dollars on electronic equipment and development. This figure rose to $1,000 million for 1945. BuShips officer and civilian personnel engaged in electronic work increased from 39 in January 1940 to 1205 in September 1945, as reported in BuShips Vol. IV, p. 239. The development and application of radar is covered in more detail in Chapter XIX in this work on "Research and Development."

Other changes were made from time to time as the war progressed, and new situation arose, necessitating the setting up of new offices in the Bureau. Such were the offices of Counsel and Patent Counsel, a Contract Division directly under the Chief of the Bureau, a Contract Settlement


Figure 12.--Organization of Bureau of Ships (15 June 1945)
Figure 12.--Organization of Bureau of Ships (15 June 1945)


Vice Admiral Edward L. Cochrane
Vice Admiral Edward L. Cochrane

Chief of Bureau of Ships, Nov. 1942-Nov. 1946

Review Board, and special assistants to the Chief of the Bureau to deal with the problems of demobilization. A skeletonized organization diagram approved on 15 June 1945 by Vice Admiral E.L. Cochrane, Chief of the Bureau of Ships and reproduced in this chapter as Figure 12 shows the organization with which the Bureau emerged from World War II.

What has been said in the preceding pages with respect to the mechanism and procedures for producing the plans to build ships for the Navy during the war is only an approximation to the steps that were often taken when demanded by exceptional circumstances to expedite construction. During the war the emphasis was always on rapid production rather than on perfection in designs that might be time consuming. Features in


former designs were often accepted in preference to striving for improvements that might cause delays in construction. Short cuts in plan approval were common when they contributed to saving time.


As a segment of the BuShips organization involved in the design and construction of naval vessels, it will be helpful at this point to mention briefly the Bureau's technical inspection service in the field. Basically, the purpose of the service was to insure that contractors delivered ships as called for by plans and specifications. Fairness to the unsuccessful bidders was an additional consideration for requiring strict compliance with the plans and specifications when contracts were awarded on competitive bids. During World War I, when most contracts were negotiated and not based on competitive bids this consideration was of little importance. Getting well-built ships, at a fair price, with the least possible delay were then the paramount considerations.

This broadened the inspection function and made it necessary for the Bureau's organizations in the field to take on many new responsibilities. In order to speed up shipbuilding the Bureau permitted the field forces much greater latitude than formerly in departing from the strict letter of the specifications. It also required them to assist contractors in ways that would normally have been considered intrusions into the contractor's realm of responsibility. For these reasons and because of the great expansion of the industry the Bureau found it necessary to increase its field forces, and to add to their duties.17

Administrative as well as technical jurisdiction over the field inspection services had come under the technical Bureaus from earliest times. When the Bureau of Ships was formed inspection at shipbuilding yards was consolidated under Supervisors of Shipbuilding. The Inspectors of Naval Material and of Machinery were also placed under the new Bureau. On 2 May 1942 the Secretary of the Navy directed that all material inspection officers of the Navy be placed under the jurisdiction of the Office of Procurement and Material, one of the executive offices of the Under Secretary. It was thought that this would provide for better administration and for economy in the employment of the inspection forces.


After a few months it was borne out, as had been predicted by the technical Bureaus, that the work of the Supervisors of Shipbuilding, of Inspectors of Machinery, and to a considerable extent of Inspectors of Naval Material was so bound up with that of the Bureau of Ships itself that the new arrangement was seriously handicapping the shipbuilding program. It became evident as never before that the field offices of the material Bureaus are, in fact, extensions of their design and technical forces. An unofficial understanding was reached with OP&M soon thereafter, under which the Bureau of Ships gradually resumed technical control over the operations of its field offices.18 Full technical control of these activities was restored to the Bureau of Ships in 194419 Some further discussion of this subject will be found in this work in the chapter on "Industrial Mobilization and Material Procurement."


In the early days of the Navy Department all technical personnel were civilians. Joshua Humphreys, a civilian naval architect and shipbuilder, designed the frigates that were authorized by Congress in 1794 and served as the technical adviser of the first Secretary of the Navy. The activities of a number of men spoken of as naval constructors are of record before the Bureau system was established but it is not clear when they were first enrolled in a corps for service in the Navy Department and in the navy yards.20 It is certain, however, that the Construction Corps was originally a strictly civilian body and that not until 1866 were its members given at least quasi-officer status.

Up to 1881 naval constructors learned their profession by serving apprenticeships as shipwrights. The ability to make drawings and calculations was acquired in the modest drafting roms of that period. No college in the United States taught even the rudiments of naval construction as distinguished from naval architecture until almost the end of the 19th century. In 1879 two members of the Naval Academy graduating class of that year were sent to the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, England for study in naval construction preparatory to being assigned to the Construction Corps.21 Thereafter, until 1901, Naval Academy graduates selected for the Construction Corps studied at various schools in Europe.


In 1901 it became possible to provide postgraduate education in naval construction at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, Massachusetts.22 All naval constructors thereafter received up to three years of postgraduate education in naval construction and allied subjects at the institution.

After recruitment from Naval Academy graduates was started, selection for the Construction Corps was considered a mark of distinction. Assignment to the Corps in the early years carried with it certain advantages; a more normal domestic life compared to seagoing, better pay, a profession that had a commercial value, and duty that involved less routine and no long spells of boredom so characteristic of the sea duty of that time. The attractiveness of the Construction Corps during the first 20 years of the new recruitment policy is attested by the fact that eighteen of the twenty men who stood at the head of their classes during that period entered the Construction Corps.

With the expansion of the Navy after the Spanish-American War, the introduction of modern gunnery, fleet exercises and a generally greater range of activities, the life of seagoing officers became more interesting and the advantages of the Construction Corps less pronounced. Nevertheless, the Construction Corps continued for a time to make sufficient appeal to Naval Academy graduates to attract officers from the top or at least the upper part of the Naval Academy classes to fill all vacancies. This situation changed gradually, however, until little interest is taken now in such duty by the honor graduates of the classes. Coupled with the many proposals over the years to merge the technical Bureaus there were usually, also, proposals to change the status of the Construction Corps by amalgamating it with the line, but naval constructors were as a rule opposed to losing their identity as a corps.

Just as in the case of naval constructors the first engineers were also civilians employed under contract or specific appointment.23 Under date of 31 August 1842, Congress authorized a Corps of Naval Engineers with an Engineer in Chief at an annual salary of $3,000 a year and a number of chief and assistant engineers "not to exceed eight for each steamship."24


The Corps started with about 35 members, and increased to about 175 by 1859. Officer status of a kind was conferred on the members in 1859, a few years before the separate Bureau of Steam Engineering was established in 1862. In 1866 the practice was started of giving engineers two years of formal education at the Naval Academy, increased later to four years, the first two years of which were the same as for line naval cadets. The officers of the Engineer Corps were thrown in much closer contact with the line than were the naval constructors because they went to sea as operating engineers and thus lived in day to day association with their line shipmates. Nevertheless, there was much friction between the engineers and the line largely over matters of rank, prerogatives, social status, and authority. The other staff corps joined with the engineers in demanding recognition as commissioned officers of the Navy.

Under date of 4 November 1898 Secretary of the Navy John D. Long appointed a Board to study the causes of friction between the Line and the Engineer Corps and to make recommendations to reconcile the warring elements. The Board, consisting of Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, later President of the United States, and 9 naval officers--5 of the Line and 4 of the Engineer Corps--recommended amalgamation of the engineers with the Line. A law to this effect was passed on 3 March 1899. The momentum of the old Engineer Corps carried the function of machinery design through the next fifteen years of thereabout, but it became apparent that this situation could not go on indefinitely as no steps had been taken to recruit or educate officers for design and other highly technical engineering work. Warrant officers and the Line of the Navy could take care of the operation of machinery and its upkeep afloat but not of the higher technical work in the Bureau and in the shore establishment.

To fill this need Congress passed a law under date of 29 August 1916, authorizing the selection of officers to be designated for Engineering Duty only (EDO).25 These officers were not eligible for command afloat. The first selections did not, on the whole, produce a very high quality of officers because most of the applications came from older officers who had not been very successful in the line. There were, however, among the applicants some outstanding young officers who carried the load of naval engineering design for many years. Sixty-five officers were selected for engineering duty in the four years following the passage of the Act of 26 August 1916. No further selections were thereafter made until 1928. This gap of eight years is definitely related to the movement in 1923 to abolish the Construction and other specialist Corps. Under date of 11 May


1928 Congress passed an act permitting the selection of additional EDO's. From the beginning, all EDO's were given postgraduate education at various American and European schools.

When it appeared early in 1940 that consolidation of the two Bureaus could be brought about, sentiment began to build up also for amalgamating the officers of the Construction Corps with the Line in order to place the two groups of officers on the same footing.This was felt to be necessary in order to give full effect to the consolidation of the Bureaus. Accordingly, Congress under date of 25 June 1940 passed Public Law 657, abolishing the Construction Corps and transferring its officers to the Line, and giving them the same status as Engineering Duty officers.

The key personnel of the new Bureau came, therefore, largely from these two categories of career naval officers. They had certain characteristics in common; they had good minds and were industrious. No graduate of the Naval Academy ever elects to take up engineering duty as a specialty, using the term in its broadest sense, unless he feels able to handle the stiff courses of postgraduate study that are required. The officer must necessarily be of the industrious type, otherwise he would not have stood high enough in his class at the Naval Academy to be chosen for postgraduate engineering education. These traits, it is true, are only the foundation for the acquirement of technical and administrative competence in this field, but they provide a very sound foundation.

It was, therefore, not accidental that the technical bureaus of the Navy Department were ready to meet the challenge of science, engineering, and logistics that played so large a part in winning World War II. Aside from competence in performing their naval duties naval constructors and naval engineers had made significant contributions over the years in advancing the frontiers of science and technology in the fields of naval architecture, marine engineering, and other physical sciences. During and after the 1880's many naval officers were employed by colleges as teachers and even pioneered courses in engineering studies, notably in aeronautical engineering. They were also the founders of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, and of the American Society of Naval Engineers. The early papers appearing in the transactions of these societies came largely from naval officers.

Former naval constructors and naval engineers played an important role also in developing the modern shipbuilding industry in the United States and became prominent in the management of all the principal shipyards of the country. Through its many associations with the private shipbuilding industry and with engineering educational institutions the Bureau of Ships was assisted in getting off to a good start. With the war coming closer, a tremendous expansion in the employment of technical personnel, both civilian and in uniform, became necessary.


In June 1940 the Bureau of Engineering had on board 71 officers and 449 civilians; the Bureau of Construction and Repair, 46 officers and 541 civilians. Not all of the officers were EDO's or naval constructors. Before the end of the war, the number of officers had increased more than ten-fold. The percentage of engineering duty officers was, however, smaller than at the time of consolidation because the supply was limited and many had to be assigned to important billets in the field. Practically all of the additional officers found necessary came through Naval Reserve channels. They contributed much in the way of technical and business experience to the management of the Bureau. One of the tasks of the veterans was to indoctrinate them with the administrative practices and policies that had been found successful by the Navy Department in the past, and that represented current procedures. Care was, however, taken to make full use of their civilian skills and experience in order to improve the practices of the Bureau.

Chapter XXI entitled "Civilian Personnel," gives some details on civilian technical personnel employed in the Bureaus. Among them were specialists in a wide range of the engineering sciences. There were also businessmen, lawyers, accountants, and others with special skills, who contributed outstandingly to the success of the merger of the Bureaus.

Master Plan for Maximum Ship Construction

A major preoccupation of the Secretary of the Navy, of Admiral Robinson, and of the key personnel in the Design and Shipbuilding Divisions of the new Bureau had been with the question of priorities in planning the huge shipbuilding programs that had been authorized by Congress in the summer of 1940. It was realized that agreement on priorities had to be reached if the maximum delivery of ships in the sequence desired was to be achieved, and that once established radical and frequent departures therefrom would lead to much confusion and delay. The Bureau of Ships was considered to be the best qualified unit in the Navy Department to initiate the making of such a priority plan, as it was better informed than any other with the actual and potential capacity of the shipbuilding industry, including the navy yards, and with current thinking in the Navy Department as to the most urgent needs of the Fleet in the way of ships.

Under date of December 17, 1941 the Bureau presented its first "Master Plan for Maximum Ship Construction." This plan went the rounds of the General Board, CNO, COMINCH, the Maritime Commission, the Chairmen of Congressional Naval Committees, the Secretary of the Navy, and finally the President. The plan was approved by the President in February 1942, and in the matter of priorities became the guiding document for


carrying out the shipbuilding program. It had to be modified from time to time to meet new situations as the war progressed. Originally it did not, for example, include such categories as destroyer escorts and landing craft, but it was from the beginning of the greatest usefulness in guiding the Navy Department's overall logistics effort. It served as the basis for all Bureaus in determining their own logistic requirements.

Controlled Materials Plan

Another broad preoccupation was how to control the stocking and use of critical materials. Neither manpower nor natural resources were unlimited. It had to be recognized that wastefulness, entirely aside from the cost involved, could not be tolerated in either of these areas of war production. Some form of enforceable control over the use of both would have to be devised other than the normal one of money control. Manpower would be wasted whenever, because of lack of material, a stoppage or a slowdown in production occurred and materials would be wasted whenever a manufacturer had on hand stocks in excess of his requirements. The ultimate objective was to schedule and control essential materials that were in short supply, so that the programs would stay in balance and result in the production of the needed things in the order of their importance, and as rapidly as possible.

The first efforts to control these essentials were through the use of the assignment of "priorities" and then through the use of a method called the Production Requirements Plan. Finally,. because of defects in both the Priorities and PRP schemes, the War Production Board in collaboration with the Bureau of Ships and OP&M initiated the Controlled Materials Plan. Inasmuch as steel, copper, and aluminum, singly or in various combinations,. enter into the production of practically everything that is manufactured, it was decided that controlling the use of these basic materials through a controlled Materials Plan would provide adequate overall production controls.

CMP was announced in November 1942. Involved in its operations were two principal phases repeated each calendar quarter. The first phase consisted of gathering and compiling, in useable and timely form, statistics as to the needed quantities of these basic materials, and when and where needed. The process used by the Bureau of Ships in establishing its requirements was to procure, or develop Bills of Materials covering the ships and components within its programs and, based on the dates when these items would be needed, develop the total quantities of steel, copper and aluminum required. This information was furnished to the Office of Procurement and Material which consolidated the data for the entire Navy


Department and submitted the total estimated Navy requirements to the War Production Board where the final summary of the requirements of all claimants was made.

The second phase of the procedure then commenced. The War Production Board made allotments to the respective claimants based on their estimated requirements, on the relative importance of the programs, and on the estimated available supply of the basic materials for the period in question. These allotments were almost always smaller than the estimated requirements submitted by the claimants. It was then the responsibility of the claimants, OP&M in the case of the Navy Department, to distribute the allotment to the Bureaus in such amounts as it considered best. Based on applications from its contractors and field activities, the Bureau of Ships made the distribution of the allotment received from OP&M. The process was not as simple as it sounds because provision had to be made for reserves and emergencies. Priorities in the production programs had always to be kept in mind. The estimates of contractors and subcontractors had to be checked and reviewed for at least reasonable accuracy. The field services of the Bureau performed the last mentioned function.

Controls similar to those set up by the Bureau of Ships were used throughout the Navy Department. A large part of the procurement activities of other Bureaus were keyed to the schedules established by BuShips for naval shipbuilding. Organizationally CMP came under the Shipbuilding Division of BuShips. Approximately 200 people were at first employed in performing the estimating function and in developing the necessary data for submission to OP&M, and approximately 100 on the other major function of making the allotments. With more experience these numbers were eventually reduced to about 75 and 35 respectively.

There were innumerable conflicting problems and situations to explore and reconcile before CMP worked smoothly. As a procedure it was unknown and unnecessary in peacetime because the ordinary laws of supply and demand, and the disciplines of the profit motif provide all that is necessary in normal times to prevent hoarding of materials on the one hand and shortages on the other. No wartime procedure came in for more abuse and name-calling than CMP.It was often referred to as "Confusion Made Permanent." However, it accomplished its purpose.26

Plant Facilities

The success of the United States in waging a world-wide war was due in great measure to the effectiveness with which the industrial mobilization


of the country for war was carried out. One of the tasks of the Bureau of Ships in that connection was to assist the shipbuilding industry with improvements and additions to plant facilities; also, to convert to shipbuilding many plants that had never done such work before. The Maritime Commission was also very active in sponsoring the expansion of the shipbuilding industry. Existing facilities had been able to absorb the programs that were authorized in the 30's. The navy yards had taken care of about half of the new construction and the private yards the other half. A drastic expansion had, however, to be made to take care of the 1940 program.

In July 1940 there were 29 yards engaged on new construction for the Navy and 19 on conversion and repairs. This number was brought up to 156 and 76 respectively, by December 1941. The number increased rapidly until at the peak of shipbuilding in December 1942 there were 322 yards on new construction and at the peak for conversion and repairs in September 1944 there were 248 yards engaged on such work. Most of the new yards built small vessels such as landing craft, subchasers, boats, and barges. By July 1945 the number of yards on new construction was back to 137. Conversion and repair work stayed at about the peak until the end of the war. The geographic distribution of shipbuilding and ship repairing spread over 34 of the 48 states.27

The Great Lakes and other inland waters played an important part in carrying out the shipbuilding programs. Warship construction on lakes and rivers was nothing new. In 1776, during the Revolution General Arnold, by the construction of a flotilla on Lake Champlain, so delayed the advance of General Burgoyne from Canada to the Hudson that the Colonies were given sufficient time to assemble an army for his defeat and capture at Saratoga. Again, during the War of 1812, Perry on Lake Erie and MacDonough on Lake Champlain built ships that defeated the British naval forces and insured American control of those areas. The Great Lakes also played an important role in new construction during World War I, but nothing compared to the work done in World War II.

Submarines were built at Manitowoc, Wisconsin, on Lake Michigan28 and were transported by floating drydock through the Illinois Canal to St. Louis, down the Mississippi River to New Orleans where they were undocked and then went on their way to the Pacific. The contribution made to the landing craft program by contractors on the inland waterways was particularly important. Many of these concerns had never before built ships or floating craft of any kind.


The most direct interest of the Bureau of Ships lay in the expansion of shipbuilding facilities but its worst headaches were connected with the production of the materials and components that enter into shipbuilding. At the root of this problem lay the shortage of machine tools. To aid in alleviating the shortage the Bureau took the constructive step in May 1942 of establishing an "Available Used Machine Tool Section" (Shore Facilities Branch, Shipbuilding Division.29 A civilian expert headed the section and, using the Inspectors of Naval Material as field representatives, scoured the country for machine tools, welding machines, and cranes that were either idle or were bring used on work not essential to the war effort. Although running somewhat counter to the policy of the War Production Board of centralizing the allocation of tools in that agency the BUSHIPS expedient yielded good results. Thousands of tools were located and put to work on BUSHIPS projects, most of which had to do with some aspect of shipbuilding. Machine tools remained a problem, but by the latter part of 1943 the worst of the shortage was over.

The policies and procedures that were adopted to place contracts, to finance plant construction, expansions, and conversions, to deal with the production of all kinds of materials and components, to deal with the supply, and to institute effective controls over the war economy in general, are covered in some detail in the chapter on "Industrial Mobilization and Material Procurement" as they were aspects of the administration of the Navy Department as a whole and were common to the procurement activities of all the Bureaus. It will suffice in this place to mention briefly a few of the expansions outside of shipbuilding itself that the Bureau of Ships had to sponsor.

The situation was succinctly summed up in a paragraph of a memorandum of 4 September 1942 from the Chief of the Office of Procurement and Material to the Chief of Naval Operations:

"Expansion of facilities to produce ship components has proved to be much more onerous than that of providing the ship ways themselves. It has also been a much heavier contributor to shipbuilding delays up to date. This s due to two reasons: it is normally much simpler to build a shipbuilding way than it is to build a factory for the manufacture of a machine; and the need for expanded facilities for many components was not apparent in time to prevent a shortage of that component from causing delay in ship construction. Among the delays from this cause which can be cited are delays in submarine chasers and minesweepers due to insufficient facilities for the manufacture of gears; minor delays in practically all types because of lack of facilities for the production of turbines, gears, and forced draft blowers. There will be delays from this cause, because of lack of facilities for construction of ship components. Unless there is an unforeseen increase in the shipbuilding program, or in some other war


program which interferes with the manufacture of shipbuilding components, causes of delay in ship construction due to facilities for manufacturing components should disappear by the spring of 1943."

The Navy Department in World War I had a similar experience with its shipbuilding activities. The hulls of the 110' submarine chasers, the most widely distributed of the programs, were always ahead of the machinery, propellers and other components.

The turbine and gear shortage reached its most serious proportions in 1943 due to the tremendous increase in requirements arising from the Destroyer Escort program. Under this program the contemplated number of ships were delivered to the fleet in 1943, but only by adopting diesel engines of less power. The DE's therefore had less speed than originally planned. Diesel engines thus became of major interest in to the Bureau. Until the outbreak of World War II the diesel industry was a relatively small one. Modern diesel engines for commercial use were largely a development springing out of the Navy's requirements for high powered, light weight propelling machinery for submarines. The war programs caused the demand for marine diesel engines to spiral out of sight. The landing craft program made particularly heavy demands on this industry. The Bureau of Ships invested directly in eleven diesel manufacturing plants a total of over $50,000,000 and in twenty-one other companies producing diesel components to the extent of about $40,000,000.30 By 1945 over 50,000,000 horsepower of diesel engines had been installed in naval vessels.31

This enormous increase in diesel horsepower carried with it the need for adequate spare parts. It was not until the middle of 1942 that it was realized that engine production would have to be relaxed enough to permit the manufacture of spare parts in sufficient quantity to keep vessels in the forward areas in operation. The forces afloat were at first authorized to purchase spare parts direct from manufacturers. This led to a period of indiscriminate and uncontrolled spare parts purchases, flooding manufacturers with orders, many of which were unintelligible. By joint action of the Bureaus of Supplies and Accounts, and Ships, under date of 25 July 1942, a Diesel Department was set up at the Naval Supply Depot, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, at which spare parts were to be stocked and their issue controlled. Many details had to be worked out before this perplexing problem was worked out satisfactorily. The magnitude of the problem can be appreciated when it is stated that some 556 different models of engines were at that time in service or scheduled to go into service and that upward of one and a half million different plan and


piece number markings identified the parts that might be needed and would be requisitioned as spares. Fortunately 128 of the 556 models represented ninety-three percent of the total horsepower.32

Early in the shipbuilding program an acute shortage in a certain type of turbo-electric propelling machinery developed. It was solved by building a large new plant on what had been a fifty-acre cornfield. The construction of the plant was not begun until May 1942, yet by the end of the year the first unit had been produced and shipped.

Then there was the valve shortage; one of the most difficult to solve. Involved in it was every phase and aspect of the peace-to-war industrial conversion and mobilization. First of all recently adopted high pressure, high temperature steam power plants for naval ships necessitated valves made of higher quality metals. This involved the expansion of the non-ferrous casting plants of the foundry industry. This and the great variety and number of valves needed caused the Bureau of Ships to invest considerable sums for the expansion of such plants.

By the end of 1942 great demands were also being made on the valve-making industry by the high-octane gasoline and synthetic rubber programs. The rubber program was being administered by a "czar" clothed with authority exceeding that of any other procurement agency. By the spring of 1943, an overall shortage in valves existed, which seriously threatened the shipbuilding program. This situation brought to a head the need for controls to prevent claimants from overestimating their requirements, and from overstocking, as it was found that the planning and scheduling was not in all cases being done with sufficient care to safeguard the interests of all concerned.

Financing the Expansion

Normally the Navy Department expects private industry to finance the plant facilities it needs to do business with the Government. This is a characteristic of a private enterprise economy. Not until the planning for the huge naval programs of 1940 was underway was it fully realized how unwilling and actually unable the shipbuilding industry was to finance the additional facilities needed to build the ships. Various financing methods were adopted to make this possible as described in the chapter on "Material Procurement," but all included the fundamental idea that the plants being financed must be made to feel and take some responsibility for using Government funds economically and with some regard for the possible future usefulness of the new facilities.


Altogether, the Bureau of Ships sponsored expenditures for plant expansions to the extent of about $2,000,000,000. Of the two billion dollars about $739,000,000 went into additional facilities at the Navy Department's shore establishments, about $689,000,000 into the private shipbuilding industry, and about $444,000,000 into financing expansions of industries engaged in manufacturing components for ships.33

Repairs and Conversions

From the point of view of expenditures, repairs and conversions represented a large part of the Bureau's work during the war. It called for new inspection and cost accounting responsibilities because much of it had to be placed in private plants not accustomed to working for the Navy. In peacetime repairs are accomplished almost exclusively in navy yards where the management and control of the work had been decentralized from the Bureaus. Naval officers, especially those with a background of training as naval constructors and engineering duty officers, had become highly competent in this field. Therefore, when it became necessary to send ships to private plants for repairs and conversions, overall supervision was placed in the hands of such officers so far as they were available, but due to their small numbers the supervising and inspecting officers had to be staffed largely by Naval Reserve officers. Most of these officers had had no shipyard experience but they had other skills and experience which stood them in good stead on ship work.

Fundamental to obtaining value received for expenditures of this kind are two things; the engineering competence of those on board ship who make up the repair lists, particularly repairs to machinery which must be opened for inspection before decisions can be made on what must be done, and the cooperation of ship's forces in inspecting the work during its progress. The degree to which the field forces of the Bureau of Ships were able to obtain the cooperation of ship's personnel was to a large extent the measure of the success and economy of the repair undertakings. Conversions were in some respects simpler to handle than repairs, but often called for more technical experience on the part of the supervising personnel than repairs. Emergency repairs to battle damage were, toward bases. Technical competence in planning and supervising the work was often lacking and at times led to unsatisfactory results; underlining the importance of providing competent engineering personnel for the Navy.

Much repair work was done in navy yards in the United States on the


ships of the Allies. After the Germans had overrun the continent the ships that escaped had available to them only the facilities of Great Britain and the United States for making repairs. Most of such work was done in the United States. Even British ships came to United States navy yards for repairs because the repair plants of the United Kingdom were overcrowded. There were many more problems involved in doing work on French ships than on British ships because of the language difficulty and the metric system of measurements. Some of the French ships that came to the United States for repair had been damaged by our own gunfire during the invasion of North Africa. Some work was also done for Latin American countries, but by far the largest part was for the account of the British and Free French Governments. The total amount of foreign repairs came to about $165,000,000.

Development in Ship Types during World War II

Covering World War II ship developments in detail lies beyond the scope of this work, but as factors in the administration of the Navy Department the reason for changes in existing types and for the creation of new types calls for some mention. In regard to qualitative characteristics, the Bureau's record in meeting new requirements fully equalled its record in meeting quantitative needs. It may be said that three principal developments during the war had a powerful influence on the design characteristics of ships, particularly of the larger ships.

These were the introduction of electronic devices such as radar, including modifications in fire control systems and the installation of combat information and remote fire control centers in the ships; continuous improvements in propulsion machinery of all kinds, including reduction gears; and more powerful armaments, particularly for defense against air attack. Increased provisions for protection against damage and means for controlling damage were also stressed in all World War II designs.

In addition, two new types emerged from the war; Destroyer Escorts and Landing Craft. The Escort Carrier might also be included as a new3 type. A brief summary of design advances in Battleships, Cruisers, Carriers, Destroyers, Destroyer Escorts, Submarines, and Landing Craft, will suffice to provide an overall picture of this sector of Bureau of Ships activities.

Battleships (BB). The major design changes in battleships just before and during World War II were increases in dimensions and displacement, the introduction of more powerful main propulsion machinery with a resultant increase in speed, better damage control provisions, a marked increase in antiaircraft weapons, some armor changes, and the modifications


made necessary by electronic installations of all kinds. Improvements in armaments, particularly in antiaircraft artillery are covered in the chapter on the Bureau of Ordnance.

Developments in electronics brought in their train the need for combat information centers and remote fire control arrangements. Great improvements were made in the habitability of ships by air conditioning, better ventilation, and better living accommodations for the crews.

At the outbreak of the war, the United States Fleet had 19 battleships, two of which, Arizona and Oklahoma, were sunk in the attack on Pearl Harbor. A short time before the attack, two new battleships, North Carolina and Washington, had joined the Fleet. Eight more were built and commissioned during the war: South Dakota, Indiana, Massachusetts, Alabama, Iowa, New Jersey, Missouri and Wisconsin.34

Heavy Cruisers (CA). The principal difference between prewar and heavy cruisers designed during the war centered around increases in length, beam and horsepower; a jump of about 50%in displacement, and a considerable increase in their secondary and antiaircraft batteries. The incorporation of electronic equipment just as in other large ships improved to a marked degree their fighting capabilities. The Navy had eighteen heavy cruisers at the time of Pearl Harbor. Cruisers of the Baltimore Class were designed between July 1940 and December 1941, seventeen of that class were built during the war. Three of the Oregon City Class were completed soon after cessation of hostilities. The main battery of nine 8"/55 caliber guns remained the same, as in prewar heavy cruisers, but the secondary battery went to twelve 5"/38 caliber twin guns and the antiaircraft guns went to twelve quadruple 40m mounts. Practically all of the heavy cruiser type were designed with accommodations for flag officers and were used as flag ships of one kind or another during the war.

Battle Cruisers (CB). The design and construction of this type was due largely to the personal interest of the President in Battle Cruisers, although the type had no enthusiastic backers in the Navy. Three ships, the Alaska, Guam, and Hawaii were projected. The first two were completed toward the end of the war, but saw no combat service. The Hawaii was cancelled.

The ships were 808'6" long, displaced 35,000 tons, and had a trial speed of 31.4 knots on 150,000 horsepower. Their armament consisted of 9 12"/50 cal. guns in 3 turrets, 12 5"/38 cal. twin double purpose guns and 14 quadruple 40mm AA mounts.


Carriers in Ulithi Atoll, Western Carolines. USS Wasp in foreground.
Carriers in Ulithi Atoll, Western Carolines. USS Wasp in foreground.


Light Cruisers (CL). Broadly speaking, two classes of light cruisers, the Atlanta and the Cleveland Classes, to serve dissimilar missions, were developed during the war. The Atlanta Class had as its principal mission defense against aircraft,the Cleveland Class operations against surface and land targets. The former had a main battery of 15 5"/38 caliber twin guns and 6 quadruple and 2 twin 40mm antiaircraft mounts on a displacement of 8,200 tons. The Cleveland Class mounting 12 6"/47 caliber and 12 5"/38 caliber twin guns plus 4 quadruple and 6 twin 40mm mounts needed 14,000 tons of displacement. At the end of the war the Worcester Class was designed, in which were incorporated all of the improvements gleaned from war experience in the design of light cruisers.

Aircraft Carriers (CV). The design and production of aircraft carriers during the war was one of the outstanding achievements of the Bureau of Ships. The Navy had only six carriers at the time of Pearl Harbor, but by the end of the war 158 more had been constructed, of which 31 of the Escort type were transferred to Great Britain.

The United States led the way in carrier design when the hulls of the Battle Cruisers Lexington and Saratoga were converted to that type after 1922. The completion of these ships for that purpose was permitted by the Washington Naval Armament Limitation Treaty. In 1931 the keel was laid for the Ranger, the first United States naval vessel to be designed from the keel up and built as a carrier. As part of the revival of shipbuilding in the early 1930's the Yorktown and the Enterprise were authorized and completed by 1938. The net two carriers were not completed until after Pearl Harbor.

During the first year of the war one of the most important developments in this type of ship was the design and construction of escort carriers (CVE). Hulls originally designed and intended as tankers and cargo ships were used. This made more rapid production possible and at a fraction of the cost of large carriers. Their speed was only about one-half that of the Enterprise and was obtained on about one fifteenth the horsepower, but it sufficed for the purpose of escorting convoys, as aircraft transports, as combat units in the antisubmarine war in the Atlantic and in general to supplement the main air striking power of the fleet. In view of the comparatively simple design of the CVE's, they lent themselves to mass production methods. An experimental CVE, the Long Island, was converted from a motor ship and commissioned in June 1941. By the fall of 1942 the conversion of cargo and tanker hulls was in full swing. In JUly 1943 the Maritime Commission began a program of CVE construction for the Navy, consisting of 50 such ships.

At the same time that the CVE type was being developed and placed in production in large numbers, a regular carrier design was under way,


resulting in the Essex Class. The first of these (CV-9) was laid down in April 1941 and commissioned at the end of 1942. In this class were incorporated many improvements over the prewar carriers. Coincident with the Essex design and development, the CVL or small flattop was developed. There were nine vessels of the 11,000-ton Independence Class converted from large cruiser hulls laid down just prior to Pearl Harbor. All were commissioned during 1943. Two larger CVL's of the Saipan Class were started in 1944, and built as carriers from the keel up. At the end of the war, but to late to take part in the war, three carriers, the Midway, F.D. Roosevelt, and Coral Sea, were under construction. These ships had a full load displacement of 60,000 tons and an overall length of 986 feet.

Destroyers (DD). Destroyers designed just before and during World War II differed from earlier designs, mainly in being larger, somewhat faster and more powerful as to armament, more economical to operate as to fuel consumption, had longer cruising radiuses, and better living conditions. In all of the designs there were incorporated the latest developments in electronic equipment for navigation and fire control purposes. The improvements were made possible by increases in size, but also by taking advantage of the latest advances in the engineering sciences.

The four-stack destroyers of the United States Navy had been an outstanding success in World War I, and many were still in service or modernized and overhauled for service in World War II, notably the 50 Lend-Lease destroyers transferred to Great Britain in 1940. Continuous improvement so far as possible with the limited funds available were made in the few destroyers built up to the 1930's. In 1934 a major design development took place in the Farragut Class, centering around the propulsion plant, the use of new materials for lightening deck structures, and modest increases in armament. Rapid strides were made during the 1930's, but some of these did not take account adequately of the increase in weights involved. The troubles resulting therefrom, as mentioned in previous pages, led to the formation of the Bureau of Ships.

During World War II two classes of destroyers marked significant advances in design. The Fletcher or DD-445 Class, designed the latter part of 1940 with deliveries commencing in 1942, formed a large part of the World War II destroyer building program. In all, 175 destroyers of that class were built during 1942, 1943, and 1944. As compared to earlier destroyers, they were larger (2,050 tons standard displacement), had greatly increased horsepower (60,000 h.p.), and had improvements in all of the fields mentioned above.

The 2,200 ton Sumner or DD-692 Class, an evolution from the Fletcher design, had virtually the same machinery and hull but had


more powerful armament and the latest in electronic equipment. The main battery became three twin 5"/30 caliber mounts in place of 5 single 5"/30 caliber mounts, while the antiaircraft armament of 40mm mounts was also increased. Most of the 70 Sumner Class destroyers were built in 1944.In 1945 a new program of 2,400-ton destroyers was started, of which 105were delivered. This was called the DD-710 [Gearing] Class. he ships were longer by 14 feet than the former class,in order to increase fuel capacity and cruising radius.

In the design of destroyers, destroyer escorts and smaller types having antisubmarine warfare as their principal mission improvements in sonar equipment and in their equipment for launching bombs against submerged submarines were under constant study and development.

Destroyer Escorts (DE). One of the foremost design and production records, although it was slow in getting started, was that of Destroyer Escort vessels. The early history of this type will be found in the chapter on "External Relations," as it was actually started in response to a request from Great Britain for more protection for transatlantic convoys. The program contemplated some 1,100 ships at one time, but was fond to be in excess of both construction capacity and probable operational needs. Some 450 were built.

The reason for the class was that ships of that size and speed could be built in a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the cost of destroyers. For escort purposes the DE was practically as good as a destroyer. There was some delay in getting a decision from the General Board and OpNav on the characteristics of the type, but once made the Bureau of Ships moved rapidly in getting the program into production. The principal characteristics of the type were: Length 306 feet, standard displacement 1,240 tons,mounting 2 3".50 caliber guns, 2 40mm antiaircraft guns, and depth charge equipment, speed, 21 knots.35 A number of different kinds and combinations of propulsion machinery were used in order to avoid delaying the completion of the ships.

The first contracts were placed in November of 1941. the highest priority was assigned to the program, making it possible to deliver the first vessel within fifteen months.

Submarines. [SS] As a result of the orderly progress that had been made during peacetime years in the design and construction of submarines, the main problem on the advent of war was the expansion of facilities to build them. So far as military characteristics were concerned, improvement in features necessary for making long patrols and long periods of submersion were of prime importance. During the peace period submerged


operations for four hours at a stretch was considered good performance. During the war eighteen hours of submersion out of the 24 was common. Improved habitability was, therefore, of great importance, as American operating personnel were not accustomed to the austerity in living conditions acceptable to German and Japanese crews.Improvements were made in better air conditioning, cold storage and cooking arrangements, bathing facilities, etc.

Electronic and underwater sound installations were kept up to date. The accent was constantly on more silent operation by muffling propulsion and auxiliary machinery.

The trend in design after World War I was for many years in the direction of larger submarines. In the early 1930's the pendulum swing the other way toward smaller displacements. Toward the end of that decade an experimental submarine was projected, having a length of 243 feet and a displacement of 940 tons. But with the outbreak of war in Europe, the designs of small submarines were shelved. During World War II the design settled down to the 212 Class, represented by the USS Gato, using high tensile steel for hull construction, thus making possible operation at much greater depths than formerly.

The standard armament of submarines at the beginning of the war consisted of one 5"/25 caliber Single Purpose Gun and one or two 20mm-AA Guns. The more effective 40mm-AA Guns later replaced one of the 20mm-AA mounts. No change was, however, made in the complement of ten torpedo tubes. The subject of torpedoes is dealt with in the chapter of the Bureau of Ordnance.

Landing Craft. The most spectacular of the design and building programs in World War II was perhaps the Landing Craft program. A brief review of Navy and Marine Corps preoccupation with this fact of naval warfare is given in the chapter in this work on the "Marine Corps" It was not until the creation of the Fleet Marine Force in 1933 that effective steps were started to solve the problem in amphibious operations of getting assault forces and their equipment from ships to the beaches. The many years taken after World War I to come to grips with the problem can be explained only on the grounds that the cost of developing and building suitable Landing Craft seemed to those holding the purse strings as unjustified. Development was therefore postponed until the country was actually faced with an amphibious war in the Pacific. The Navy Department was then confronted with the need for many kinds of Landing Craft costing eventually about one billion dollars. The program had to be superimposed on the already heavy shipbuilding construction load. Fortunately it could be handled largely by other than the shipbuilding industry as already mentioned.


Landing Craft consisted of a great variety of designs, from rubber boats to Tank Landing Ships (LST), 320 feet long, and Landing Ships Dock (LSD), 450 feet long, designed to transport and launch LCT's and LCM's. Within this range came craft designed to carry only a few men up to ships with accommodations for large landing parties. There were tracked vehicles (LVT) capable of crawling over coral reefs and up beaches, other craft for landing tanks and vehicles, and still others for giving close fire support to landing forces.36

The Bureau of Ships had to carry the full burden and responsibility for the design and planning of this program. Unconventional methods already mentioned had to be followed in making working plans. Nothing so well demonstrated the adaptability of the Bureau system for meeting new situations without setting up new permanent organizations than this program.

Auxiliaries and Miscellaneous Craft. The tremendous increase in the number of combatant ships and the global nature of the war made a commensurate increase in auxiliaries and miscellaneous craft in the smaller categories necessary. The Navy Department had been remiss in not pressing for the construction of auxiliaries over the years, although the war planners had stressed continually that no major movement of the Fleet across the Pacific could be undertaken until provision had been made for an adequate force to service the ships and the advanced bases that would have to be established.

Within the auxiliary categories were included transports, cargo carriers, hospital ships, ammunition ships, provision carriers, tenders, oilers, combined operations headquarters ships, general stores issue ships, aircraft ferries, surveying ships, and for other specialized purposes. Those of a quasi-military character, such as attack transports, attack cargo vessels, and general headquarters ships, were of paramount importance when the strategy turned to the offensive in the war in the Pacific. Auxiliaries were obtained by construction, following the usual procedures of designing and building them by contract, by conversion of standard commercial hulls produced by the Maritime Commission, and by acquisition and conversion of commercial vessels.

The demand for special types of repair and store ships increased when it was found that mobile bases had advantages over advanced bases on shore. This meant the addition of non-self propelled types--those which had to be towed. These played an essential role as part of the mobile (floating) support of the fleet in advanced anchorages. Some of these


were: floating drydocks (under Yards and Docks), barrack ships or hotel barges (these housed stevedores for handling ammunition and cargo), floating workshops (both for hull and machinery), water barges, open and covered lighters (some refrigerated) and pontoon barges. In addition, a great variety of smaller combat types were added, such as motor torpedo boats, submarine chasers, patrol boats, district patrol craft, and minecraft. Yachts and fishing craft also were pressed into the coastal escort service. The Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy for the fiscal year 1945 lists on page A-42, 150 types of ships and floating craft in the Navy at the end of the war and gives the identifying symbol of each type.


Salvage became a major responsibility of the Bureau of Ships during World War II, because of the importance of restoring to service grounded merchant and naval ships and clearing harbors and their water fronts of wreckage, where necessary for military reasons. For many years the policy of the Navy Department had been to depend on private contractors for most of its salvage work. The Navy had, however, pioneered and continued to handle the raising of sunken submarines as commercial salvage companies were not equipped to do such jobs.

After World War I the two principal commercial salvage companies on the east coast were merged to form the Merritt-Chapman and Scott Corporation.37 The Bureau of Construction and Repair maintained an annual contract with that company to insure immediate availability of salvage services when needed. The contractor attempted to maintain salvage facilities on the west coast as well as on the east coast but in 1938 was forced to withdraw from the west coast because of lack of business.

The Bureau of Construction and Repair then set up its own salvage base at San Diego. An officer with salvage experience was placed in charge, who assembled gear and equipment, and a small nucleus of specialized personnel.38 Training on actual salvage jobs was undertaken so far as opportunity offered.

Under date of 24 October 1941 an appropriation was obtained from Congress with a limit of $3,000,000, authorizing the Secretary of the Navy to provide by contract or otherwise the facilities considered necessary for the salvage of both public and private vessels. The limit as to money that could be spent for such purposes was removed by Public Law 446, dated


Vice Admiral Earle W. Mills
Vice Admiral Earle W. Mills

Chief of Bureau of Ships, Nov. 1946-Feb. 1949
(Deputy Chief during the War).

10 February 1942. These laws gave the Bureau of Ships a free hand in creating the Naval Salvage Service.

A contract on favorable terms was made at once with Merritt-Chapman and Scott to turn over its facilities to the Navy Department with the contractor retaining the responsibility for the management and operation of its vessels and bases. The arrangement was,in fact,one whereunder the Navy Department financed the procurement of the equipment needed for the ventures and the contractor furnished the technical skills and experience, and employed the personnel required for the work.

The Bureau of Ships set up in the Navy Department an organization


with a Supervisor of Salvage at its head. Its operating office was, however, located in New York, adjacent to the headquarters of Merritt-Chapman and Scott.39 The Naval Salvage Service maintained shore facilities at more than a dozen locations ranging from Woods Hole, Massachusetts to Trinidad, British West Indies and from Dutch Harbor, Alaska to Balboa, Canal Zone. Upward of 13 salvage vessels were stationed in these areas. The contractor in addition kept several experienced salvage men standing by in New York for emergency calls. Remarkable results were often achieved by these experts with little special salvage equipment to assist them except their know-how.

The task of removing hazards to navigation was also assigned to the Bureau of Ships. Normally such work is done by the Army engineers but early in the war it became evident that the facilities of the Engineer Corps were too limited to handle the jobs. An agreement was, therefore, made whereby the Naval Salvage Service did the work and was later reimbursed for its cost form the funds of the Engineer Corps.

During the war the Naval Salvage Service answered over 600 calls for assistance from ships in distress, many of which came from naval vessels. Of this number 398 developed into major salvage operations. In addition 52 hazards to navigation were removed. The total cost to the Government of the salvage operations from December 1941 to December 1945 was in excess of $17,000,000. The value of ships and cargo saved is estimated to have been close to $600,000,000.40 One reason for the outstanding accomplishments of the organization was the free hand given the Bureau to spend money on the work. Prompt action is vital to success in salvage work. The delay of a day without going through time-consuming procedures was often the key to success.

The refloating of the ships that were sunk in the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 was accomplished by a special organization under the direction of Captain Homer N. Wallin, USN (later Rear Admiral and Chief of the Bureau of Ships), an officer of the former Construction Corps and at the time Pacific Fleet Salvage Officer. Out of a total of 86 naval ships in the harbor on December 7th, 9 were sunk and 10 others were severely damaged. Damage control and rescue work was started even before the attack was over and kept some ships from sinking and others from capsizing while settling on the bottom. Some 100 divers


were engaged on the work, most of them enlisted men. The whole undertaking represents one of the greatest feats in the history of salvage operations.41

Manpower and Labor Relations

The Bureau of Ships was vitally interested in all aspects of manpower and labor relations involved in converting the nation from a peace to a wartime footing. The Bureau's interests were not inconsiderable. In June 1942, for example, there were about 600,000 workers employed n navy yards and in shipbuilding plants with probably an equal number in plants manufacturing ship components. At that time the Bureau was expending from its appropriations about $350,000,000 per month. The Bureau of Ships seldom, however, dealt directly with labor problems. Such matters were the vital concern of all Bureaus and required formulation into clear-cut Navy Department policies and procedures.

The Navy Department's interests had, in turn, to be integrated with the policies of the Department of Labor, the Labor Relations Board, the War Production Board, the War Manpower Commission, Selective Service, and other emergency agencies that were set up during the war. Liaison with all of these agencies via the Assistant Secretary's office became the method of presenting the views and the needs of the Bureau of Ships. The subject is covered in more detail in this book in the chapter on "Civilian Personnel."

In June 1942 an officer in the Facilities Branch of the Shipbuilding Division of the Bureau was assigned full time to liaison duty with the Assistant Secretary's office and with the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Department of Labor. His mission was to work out methods for estimating future shipbuilding labor requirements. Through this contact the contracting officers in BuShips were kept informed of the nationwide manpower situation so that the policies of the War Production Board and of the Assistant Secretary's office, with respect to placing contracts in areas of available labor, could be complied with.

On 26 September 1942 the Office of Procurement and Material directed the channeling of such liaison through that office. As the diversity and complexity of manpower problems increased the number of officers dealing with such matters in BuShips had also to be increased.An Industrial Relations Section was set up in the Contracting Branch of the Shipbuilding Division. In June 1944 this section was placed directly under the


Chief of the Bureau but was later transferred to the newly created Shore Division. Such matters as training, housing, and transportation of labor were handled by this section, but always in close liaison with OP&M and the appropriate office under the Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

During the summer and fall of 1943 labor shortages became critical. Area manpower priority committees were formed by WPB and the War Manpower Commission. In addition to field representative of WPB and WMC, these committees included representatives of the Government procurement agencies. Unfortunately, naval representatives on the manpower committees were often personnel specialists lacking industrial experience or appreciation of the urgency of production problems. Manpower priorities assigned were frequently at variance with material priorities, the former being controlled by the WMC and the latter by the WPB--a situation which directly and adversely affected BuShips and the shipbuilding industry.

Investigations of alleged under-utilization of labor by the navy yards and the shipbuilding industry was a responsibility of BuShips which used its field forces such as the Supervisors of Shipbuilding, Inspectors of Naval Material, and Inspectors of Naval Machinery to keep a constant and vigilant check on manpower utilization. Infractions which could not be corrected locally were referred to the Bureau for direct action, or for action by higher authority.

Wages and working conditions were matters of Bureau concern, especially form the point of view of meeting shipbuilding commitments. They were, however, the direct responsibility of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Early in 1941 a Zone Standards Agreement concerning basic wages, etc. was arrived at within the shipbuilding industry for the four shipbuilding zones.42 The agreement aimed at uniformity and stability and the prevention of labor pirating. A further step was taken in 1842 when the Shipbuilding Stabilization Committee was formed. The Navy was represented on this committee by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. It soon became evident that the Bureau of Ships had a prime interest in committee decisions, that it had personnel competent to deal with such matters, and should be represented at meetings of the committee. Initially the BuShips representative was a non-voting observer, but in March 1944 full membership was accorded him, and BuShips was given the entire Navy Department administrative responsibility for shipbuilding stabilization.

The National War Labor Board formed a Shipbuilding Commission in 1943 to handle all wage and other labor management disputes in that industry.


No procurement agency was included in the Commission membership, but the Navy could consult with and present information to the Commission. This duty originally fell to an officer on the labor relations Staff in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. When the Bureau of Ships was given greater responsibility on the Shipbuilding Stabilization Committee mentioned above, naval liaison with the Commission developed on a BuShips representative. Very frequent representations were made before the Commission by the BuShips representative. From its creation some 3500 cases came before the Shipbuilding Commission. Joint procurement agency representation by Army, Navy, and the Maritime Commission would have been even more helpful and would have made possible the presentation of more uniform views to the Commission.

BuShips was often the first to get word of prospective labor disturbances. When this occurred, the Office of the Assistant Secretary and the District Labor Relations Officer were immediately informed of the effect on the shipbuilding program that a work stoppage would have. The District Labor Relations Officer in turn kept the Bureau informed on the probable duration of stoppages so that any necessary rescheduling could be set in motion.

Selective Service

Early in 1943, Selective Service inductions of Navy Yard and BuShips contractors' personnel became a serious matter. Contractors listed all draftable workers in the order of their essentiality, qualifications, and time required to recruit and train replacements. BuShips, through the Assistant Secretary of the Navy and the National Selective Service Headquarters, assisted contractors in presenting cases for deferment.

Until mid-1944 when engineers, tool makers, and other key personnel were drafted in large numbers, the situation was not too unsatisfactory, except for the burden of training replacements that it placed on employers. For the final year of the war, the procurement agency was required to certify to the essential nature of the contractor's work, and to give in detail the qualifications of the individual employee. The job of certifying individuals was given to the Navy Department's Inspection Service in the field, subject to review and approval by the Naval District Civilian Personnel Director, with final appeal when indicated to the Bureau and the Office of Assistant SecNav. The requirement of certifying as to the urgency of a contractor's work added greatly to the BuShips workload. Cases involving workers at four thousand different contractors and sub-contractors plants were handled.43


Two facets of the Selective Service picture as they affected BuShips are of interest. Until late 1944, naval liaison officers at Selective Service Headquarters were representatives of the Bureau of Naval Personnel who were naturally more interested in the Navy's needs for uniformed personnel than in industrial manpower. the manpower group in BuShips was able to obtain the release of certain essential personnel from the Army but not from the Navy.


In a work of limited scope, such as this one, it is not possible to cover in detail the many areas of naval administration for which the respective bureaus were responsible. This chapter contains for example only brief mention of the advances made during World War II by the Bureau of Ships in electronics, such as radar, sonar, and radio communication equipment. The research and development involved are briefly covered in the chapter on "Research and Development" in this work. The subjects are in addition fully covered in the narrative histories of the laboratories where the research work was carried on, preliminary to getting the devices into production.

Electronics had perhaps the most dramatic growth and telling effect on the outcome of the war of all of the wartime technical developments. Including procurement for the Bureau of Aeronautics, the other services, and Lend-Lease, the Bureau of Ships awarded $4.4 billion in contracts for electronic equipment during the five years ending with June 1945. Contracts to the amount of about $800 million were eventually eliminated through cancellations and readjustments. Of the $3.6 billion remaining,all but $1 billion had been delivered by the end of June 1945.44

The performance of the Bureau of Ships in carrying out its principal function as the shipbuilding bureau of the Navy Department can be measured in several ways. One is the reduction in the time taken to build the principal types of naval combatant ships during the war, as compared to the time taken before the war. In the below comparison the time taken on the average in months to build the principal types during World War II is set down opposite the time taken during the peace period proceeding the war.

Average Months Required to Build Combatant Ships for U.S. Navy

      Pre-war                     After mid-1943
Battleships       39         32  
Aircraft carriers       32 1/2       15 1/2
Submarines       14         7  
Destroyers       13 1/2       5 1/2


The comparison is of course also a measure of good management and the strides made by the shipbuilding industry and the navy yards in production methods, but these could not have been achieved without superior administration of the programs by the Bureau of Ships.

Another measure of BuShips achievement was the magnitude of the shipbuilding program administered by the Bureau during the war. This was summarized by the Navy Department in a press and radio release on May 22, 1945 as follows:

"The 100,000th unit has joined the fleets of the United States Navy since December 7,l 1941. At that time the Navy had on hand 7,695 vessels and craft of all kinds comprising 2,680,000 tons. Since then approximately 8,000,000 tons of new construction at a cost of more than $17,000,000,000 have been added to the combatant, auxiliary, landing craft, patrol craft, mine craft, and district craft categories of naval vessels, according to Vice Admiral E.L. Cochrane, USN, Chief of the Bureau of Ships.

"In addition nearly 3,000 ships have been acquired and converted, adding about 5,000,000 tons to the Navy.

"In the combatant category, 1150 ships of the line have been completed since Pearl Harbor. Landing ships and craft represented 82,266 of the 100,000 total. Five hundred and fifty-seven auxiliaries have been completed, and the balance of the 100,000 vessels represents patrol craft, mine craft, district craft and small boats. The Bureau of Ships, during this period, has completed designs for 160 different types of vessel and craft, ranging from the 45,000 tons CVE's, such as the Midway, Coral Sea, and the Franklin D.Roosevelt to collapsible rubber boats used for rescue and reconnaissance work. More than 40 types of landing craft alone have been designed. Numerous modifications have been made in the designs of all other types of ships to accommodate them to the needs of their war service.

"At its peak, the naval shipbuilding program involved 325 shipyards throughout the nation, with a labor peak of 1,000,000 workers. The ratio between workers in allied industries and shipyard labor is generally estimated at 2 to 1, so that a total of some 3,000,000 workers have been engaged at one time on the naval shipbuilding program."


Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (5) * Next Chapter (7)


1. Captain Robert B. Madden, U.S.N., "The Bureau of Ships and its E.D. Officers," February 1954 issue of the Journal of the American Society of Naval Engineers, (hereafter referenced as "Madden") gives further details on this subject.

2. Hearings before House Committee on Naval Affairs, dated 6 December 1900.

3. For further details see Naval Administration, Selected Documents of Navy Department Organization, 1915-1940, in the Navy Department Library.

4. An Administrative History of the Bureau of Ships During World War II. First draft narrative prepared by the Historical Section, Bureau of Ships. Vol. I (Hereinafter referenced, BuShips).

5. Gibbs and Cox, New York, N.Y.

6. Memorandum from Commander H.N. Wallin (C.C.), USN to Captain A.J. Chantry (C.C.), USN, dated 17 August 1939.

7. Chairman, Senate Naval Affairs Committee letter to Acting Secretary of the Navy, dated 5 December 1939. Acting Secretary of the Navy letter to Chairman, Senate Naval Affairs Committee, dated 3 January 1940.

8. Secretary of the Navy Memorandum for File "History of Reorganization Effort," dated 17 August 1939.

9. Rear Admiral W.G. DuBose (C.C.), USN, Chief of the Bureau of Construction and Repair, and Rear Admiral H.G. Bowen, USN, Chief of the Bureau of Engineering.

10. The Board consisted of Rear Admiral S.M. Robinson, USN (Senior Member); Captain Lews B.McBride, (C.C.), USN; Commander E.L. Cochrane, (C.C.), USN; and Commander P.F. Lee, USN. Robinson and Lee represented the bureau of Engineering and were Engineering Duty Only officers; McBride and Cochrane represented the Bureau of Construction and Repair and were officers of the Construction Corps.

11. Chairman, General Board letter to Secretary of the Navy dated 5 December 1939, commenting on proposed Vinson reorganization bill dated 13 June 1939.

12. Secretary of the Navy letter EN/A3-1(390613) of 3 January 1940 to Chairman, House Naval Affairs Committee.

13. Rear Admiral W.R. Furlong, USN.

14. Public Law No. 644, 76th Congress.

15. For further details on the origin of the Bureau of Ships, see Madden.

16. The officer credited by Admiral S.M. Robinson above all others with bringing about the merger of the two Bureaus is Captain Lewis B. McBride, (C.C.), USN, but there were many others who played an important part. Rear Admiral W.G. DuBose, (C.C.), USN, during the consideration of the bill in Congress, was tireless in his efforts in favor of th emerger. As a younger officer he had been an advocate of merger as a member of the Anderson Board in 1921 and later as a member of the Roosevelt Board in 1933. See Madden.

17. In June 1940 eleven main offices of Supervisors of Shipbuilding were inspecting new construction in fourteen shipyards; by August 1945 there were twenty-six main offices supervising the work at one hundred and seventy-one shipyards. Offices of Inspectors of Machinery increased from five to eleven during the same period. BuShips, Vol. II, page 269. Inspectors of Naval Material increased in like proportion. Early in 1941 there were some 600 people employed in the INM offices. This number increased to about 17,500 at the height of the war production program in 1944.

18. BuShips, Vol. II, page 264.

19. See memorandum of 10 March 1944 of Captain R.C. Williams, USN, Field Inspection Officer, Bureau of Ships to Office of Naval Inspector General, BuShips, Vol. II, page 265.

20. Among the prominent ones were Henry Eckford, Samuel Humphreys, William Doughty, Francis Hartt, John Floyd, and Christian Bergh. In this connection see the comments of Maury quoted in Chapter V, "The Bureau System."

21. Richard Gatewood and Francis T. Bowles.

22. The difficulty had been to find an individual qualified and available to teach Naval Construction, a specialty in the broader field of Naval Architecture. Such an individual in the person of Commander William Hovgaard of the Danish Navy, a graduate of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, was finally found. He became an American citizen and taught Naval Construction at M.I.T. from 1901 until his retirement in 1933. He made an internationally recognized contribution to the science of Naval Construction during those years.

23. The records show that on 12 July 1836 Secretary of the Navy Mahlon Dickerson appointed C.H. Caswell Chief Engineer in the Steamship Fulton the Second, then under construction.

24. The fist Engineer in Chief was Gilbert L. Thompson, a lawyer, scholar, and what would now be called a lobbyist. It is said that "his engineering was purely nominal and confined to a very prompt and efficient drawing of his salary."

25. See "Designated Engineer Duty Only," an article in the November 1951 issue of the Journal of the American Society of Naval Engineers, prepared by its staff.

26. For more details on the CMP mechanism see BuShips, Vol. II, Chapter X.

27. For a more detailed history of the expansion of shipbuilding facilities and the geographical locations of the plants see BuShips, Vol. II, Chapter IX.

28. By the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co.

29.BuShips, Vol. II, page 181.

30. BuShips, Vol. II, page 184.

31. Ibid.

32. BuShips, Vol. III, Chapter XV.

33. BuShips, Vol. II, page 186.

34. BuShips, Vol. IV, Chapter XIX, gives more complete details on the advances in the design of the various types of ships and the numbers built during World War II.

35. Ships Data Book--BuShips--1952.

36. Beans, Bullets and Black Oil, by Rear Admiral W.R. Carter, Government Printing Office, pp. 451-464, for a more complete Glossary of the various types of ships and smaller craft used in World War II.

37. The component companies were the Merritt and Chapman Derrick and Wrecking Company of New York, and the T.A. Scott Company of New London, Conn.

38. Lieutenant Commander W.A. Sullivan, (C.C.), USN, later Rear Admiral, USN, was assigned to the duty. He developed high technical and personality qualifications for the work and in 1940-41 was sent to London to study the British wartime salvage organization and methods.

39. During the war these positions were held respectively by Commodore W.A. Sullivan, USN (later Rear Admiral), and Captain B.E. Manseau, USN (later Rear Admiral). Commodore Sullivan actually spent most of his time in Europe on salvage undertakings necessitated by the campaigns against Italy and the Normandy Invasion.

40. For a more complete history of ship salvage see BuShips, Vol. II, Chapter XII.

41. For the story in detail of this undertaking see "Death and Rejuvenation at Pearl Harbor," by Capt. Homer N. Wallin, USN, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Dec., 1946.

42. Atlantic Coast, Gulf Coast, Pacific Coast, Great Lakes.

43. BuShips, Vol. III, page 135.

44. SecNav Annual Report for fiscal year 1945, p. A-23.

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