The Kaiser yard at Swan Island, Portland, boasts with good reason that its workers are the "Tanker Champions of the World." The reason: The tanker champion flag flew over the Swan Island yard for twelve out of the fifteen months up to the end of 1944-and from the date of the yard's construction this yard has delivered 134 of the great T2 tankers. The plot of the Swan Island story is a familiar one: The first facilities contract to convert the Swan Island municipal airport was signed March 4, 1942. By March 16 the first ground had been broken and workmen began to drive some 22,000 piles for the outfitting dock and eight 5 50-foot shipways. (Later dry dock facilities for maintenance and repair of large ocean-going vessels were constructed and these extended the length of the outfitting dock to almost a mile and the area to 398 acres.) The first keel was not laid, however, until July 1 because of delay in procuring heavy cranes and other material, but the first tanker was delivered on December 31, 1942. . . . And then the rush was on. The yard was intended originally for Liberty ship construction, but the first contract was for fifty-six 16,560-ton oil tankers. The first of these tankers, the largest ever built on the Pacific Coast, was the S.S. Schenectady, had capacity in its cargo oil tanks of 5,928,650 gallons, a length of 523 feet six inches, and a speed of 14 1/2 knots. From this beginning Swan Island jumped swiftly into high speed and delivered 43 tankers in 1943, incidentally winning the Tanker Champion Flag on October 23rd of that year for achieving the highest productivity way of any American yard building tankers. In 1944 it delivered 64 T2's, outfitted six fleet oilers, and in December of that year set an all-time record by launching seven and delivering seven tankers. . . . Twenty-six more were scheduled for delivery up to April 13 th of this year. The shipyards in the Portland area had to meet and conquer two great problems-a serious shortage of housing in 1942 and a lack of skilled workers. With a need for more than 100,000 workers in the shipbuilding industries, it was estimated that there were less than 1,500 workers who had ever built any part of a ship. Which meant that at least 98 out of 100 new employees had to be trained. Creation of craft schools solved that problem satisfactorily and construction of barracks and dormitories gave shelter to more than 7,000 workers. In December, 1943, the Maritime Commission built big child care centers at both Swan Island and Oregon Ship as a means of making it easier for mothers to work in the yards. The result, according to the Kaiser Company, was the release of enough women to build four Liberty ships. A few months' operation proved that day care alone did not answer the problem; and the nurseries were put on a 24-hour a day basis. A hot-dish service for parents was also added so that mothers could buy the main part of the family meal when they called for their children. Swan Island workers followed the pattern of other coast yards by reducing the construction time on its ships each year. In 1943 the average Swan tanker was built in 115.5 days, but in 1944 that time was cut to 62.9 days, an improvement of about 45 per cent.
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