In shipyards on the Pacific and Atlantic, on the St. Lawrence and on the Great Lakes, 14,000 Canadians are at work on more than 80 sleek war craft for Canada's Navy
CHARLES LUGRIN SHAW
THE WAR has brought back the clatter of the ship-rivetter and the Clydeside accent to shipyards throughout Canada.
The demand for fighting craft—for submarine chasers and minesweepers—has revived the art of big-scale shipbuilding after more than twenty years of idleness. In shipyards on the Pacific and Atlantic, the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes, 14,000 men are building more than eighty sleek war craft. The program involves an expenditure of more than $50,000,000.
The accompanying photographs, taken at a shipyard on the West Coast depict the construction of a modern submarine chaser.
These ships are of steel. The steel goes to the yards in plates from the mills of eastern Canada. In the mold loft, a vast stretch of floor space that is a necessary part of every modem shipbuilding plant, the plates are laid out. Wooden patterns cut to size and shape from blueprints are laid on the steel plates. These wooden patterns, amazingly accurate—because the error of a fraction of an inch might throw the whole design out of line—are complete even to the markings where rivet holes are to be punched.
Sheared to the right dimensions, rolled to the desired shape and form, and punched, each process involving the skilled use of giant machines operating under extreme pressure, the finished plates are
assembled, by crane and derrick and taken by other hoisting and hauling equipment to the yard where the hull is to be laid.
The keel, as everyone who has tried to build a rowboat in his basement knows, is the foundation of the ship, but in the making of a modern steel vessel the keel is far from being a single solid block. Rather, it represents the piling of layer after layer of com-, paratively thin steel pieces on each other in exact alignment, rivetted together to form the “backbone” of the ship. The hull or skeleton comes later, and the frames that represent the ribs are buckled to the keel and then connected after they have passed through the intricate processes of the frame-bending shop. Nothing can be left to chance when it comes to setting these frames in the hull, for the steel plates that are to be laid on them—the “skin” of the ship—must fit exactly to the last rivet hole.
Once the keel and frame have been set, the laying of the plates is a comparatively quick and spectacular job. And noisy. Nothing quite matches in pandemonium the clamor of a dozen pneumatic rivetting machines as they “sew up” the flanks of a steel ship. The three key jobs in this operation are those of the pitcher, who heats the bolts or rivets to a white hot heat and tosses them with a quick flip of the tongs;
the catcher, who picks the hot metal from the air and
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Ships for the Navy
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passes it on to the batter who rams it home with the hammer.
The steel hull finished, the ship is ready for the launching, but it is still far from complete. At the launching the ship is little more than an empty shell. In these naval craft the interior is practically a solid mass of machinery, with space only for armaments and ammunition. No vast space is required for cargo stowage as in merchant ships. These vessels are for fighting and nothing else, although the return of peace may make them convertible for some other purpose.
Each vessel will carry two sets of engines capable of giving the ship a speed of more than 16 knots. They carry twin 75ton boilers developing pressure of 250 pounds to the square inch. Total tonnage of each vessel is 940. They are 190 feet long, with a 33-foot beam and depth of 17.6 feet. On the wartime, seven-day-aweek speedup schedule such a craft can be completed in four months.
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