At Defoe Shipbuilding Company in Bay City, Michigan, Harry J. Defoe utilized a roll-over hull construction techinique. Defoe's method featured a single locomotive crane that could roll the completed hull over in five minues' time with a crew of only a dozen men, and this successful innovation led to an October 1942 contract for the construction of the first saltwater surface combat ships to be built on the Great Lakes. The first of these 307-foot destroyer escorts, the USS Bull, was begun in December 1942 and delivered down the Mississippi in August 1943; the company originally contracted to build twenty-eight of these ships, but the final eleven were delivered as fast transports. By early 1944, the yard was concentrating on production of the large landing craft so desperately needed for the coming European invasion; fifty-eight of these, including forty-two Landing Craft, Infantry (LCI), were eventually launched. At the height of wartime production, Defoe was employing some four thousand workers and meeting a monthly payroll in excess of one million dollars.
Iron Fleet: The Great Lakes in World War II
by George J. Joachim
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