Michigan Manufacturer & Financial Record, Volume 22, 1918

Bay City, July 12, - Shipbuilding will be revived in Bay City through the organization of the Defoe Shipbuilding Company, which has obtained war department contracts for the construction of eight 100-foot oceangoing steel tugs, the total value of the work being in excess of $1,000,000. The men who have brought about this big industrial addition to the city are Harry J. and Fred W. Defoe, owners of the Defoe Boat & Motor Works, and Otto E. and William J. Sovereign, of the Aladein Company and originators of the ready-cut system of house-building.

The Defoe concern obtained the contracts on condition that there would be sufficient finances to insure the success of the undertaking. Through the assistance of the Board of Commerce, the Sovreeign brothers became interested and a satisfactory proposition was agreed upon. To provide a suitable site for the shipyards an arrangement was made with the Michigan Central Railroad for the exchange of the Defoe property, which the railroad company has been endeavoring to purchase, for the site now occupied by the E. B. Foss estate lumber yards, consisting of 1,800 feet of river front between Water street and the river and extending from the Michigan Central bridge to the Pere Marquette slip.

The officers of the new Defoe Shipbuiling Company are: President, O. E. Sovereign; vice-president, Fred W. Defoe; secretary and general manager, Harry J. Defoe, and treasurer, William J. Sovereign. The work of constructing the necessary buildings will be started as soon as the lumber owned by the Foss estate can be moved, and operations will be rushed. It is expected that the first keels will be laid early in the fall. From 300 to 500 men will be employed, and many of the former shipbuilders of the city will probably return to their old home. Steel shipbuilding was one of Bay City's greatest industries at one time, but passed out of existence a decade ago when the American Shipbuilding Company dismantled its yard, located where the Bigelow-Cooper plant now stands.

The Defoe Shipbuilding Company is assured of further Government contracts when it is in a position to handle them. The contracts were offered Mr. Defoe as a result of the satisfactory manner in which the Defoe Boat and Motor Works had completed other contracts under the management of Harry J. Defoe, having built a number of small craft. While the present contracts are for small boats, the yeards will be equipped for the construction of all kinds of steel and iron ships of any size, but will make a specialty of tugs, mine layers and smaller craft.

The Defoe Boat and Motor Works will continue in operation at its present site possibly for a year, but eventually will be merged with the larger company.


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