On the Water

Photograph of Hog Island

The United States entered World War I in April 1917. Within days, the federal government created the Emergency Fleet Corporation (EFC) to construct a fleet of merchant ships. The EFC hired the American International Shipbuilding Corporation to build and operate the largest shipyard in the world: Hog Island, near Philadelphia.

Hog Island’s 50 shipways stretched a mile and a quarter along the Delaware River near Philadelphia. It abutted 846 acres with 250 buildings and 28 outfitting docks, on what is now the site of the Philadelphia International Airport. At its peak, the yard employed around 30,000 workers. Most were men, but some 650 women worked in the yard. Many of the workers had no factory experience, so they were trained on the job.

At its peak, Hog Island launched a vessel every 5½ days, and its workers built 122 cargo and troop transport ships in four years. Although none saw service before the end of the war, the United States learned how to build large ships quickly on a grand scale from prefabricated parts. This valuable experience would expedite the Liberty and Victory ship building programs of World War II.

ID Number:
overall in frame: 18 in x 153 in x 2 in; 45.72 cm x 388.62 cm x 5.08 cm
Gift of J. D. Andrew, Jr.

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