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Committee on Public Information


Sixty per cent of the labor of building a ship is represented in the hull. The rest is expended in installing the machinery and equipment. American shipyards have set many new speed records during the last twelve months, but a few weeks ago a shipbuilding plant in Belfast, Ireland, wrested a laurel from the Yankees when the Irish workmen completed the installation of machinery in five working days from the time of a vessel's launching.

esque products of our national life, once conspicuous in numbers, long ago became conspicuous only because of his rarity, as our merchant marine practically disappeared from the seas. When, therefore, in the face of war's calamity we found ourselves a people without ships, we likewise found ourselves without men to operate the merchant vessels which we began with such frenzied haste to build.

It was not that the sons of the skippers and seamen, who in an earlier era of our history won world-wide fame manning our peerless barks and clippers, had grown soft and sybaritic. There was still in the youth of the land the brawn, the initiative, and the love of adventure which those must have who answer the call of the sea. But there had been no incentive to awaken the latent longing for strange places and for the romance of trackless waters and of combat with Na

ture's storms and lightnings, her spuming waves, and the ceaseless urge of her unseen currents.

To the Merchant Marine Recruiting Service, another of the coördinate branches of the United States Shipping Board, inaugurated by Henry Howard, of Boston, was entrusted the task of re-creating ating a noble race of mariners for the needs of the hour and for the merchant fleets which shall not disappear from the waters when peace comes again to the world.

While the recruiting service was tentatively organized in June, 1917, and at that time began training officers, it was not until February of this year that an active campaign began for training crews. Once under full headway, the work has been pursued with commendable success. More than 11,000 experienced men have been admitted to the schools for officers

and more than 28,000 inexperienced youths have been enrolled for training as merchant mariners. Seven thousand recruiting offices, located mainly in each unit of a great chain of drug stores whose chief executive has lent every possible assistance of time and fortune to the government, are supplying from 500 to 600 new students daily for the apprentice schools for seamen maintained on a fleet of 12 training ships.


More than 1,600 men are today attending the officers' schools, fitting themselves for the duties of mate, engineer, etc. In the navigation schools the course of instruction is six weeks; the engineers' course is completed in one month. But both schools require of their students previous navigation or engineering experience of two years at sea or its equivalent. That equivalent in the case of engineers may have been special training in technical schools, experience as a locomotive engineer, or engineer of a stationary engine.

The apprentice course is for six weeks, at the end of which time the successful pupil receives a rating as ordinary seaman and is placed on board a merchant ship. The ratio of apportionment in crews is not more than four graduates of the apprentice schools to every six able seamen, an able seaman being one who has followed the sea for two years or who has secured his advanced rating by passing an examination at the end of his first twelve months.

Like the pupil in the riveting classes of the shipyards, the apprentice receives a salary while he is fitting himself for important work-a stipend of $30 a month, plus quarters and food which would arouse the envy of every man who ever sailed before the mast in the old days of American supremacy at sea.

When the 288 hours of instruction have been completed (eight hours a day, six days a week, with one instructor for every ten men), the newly created sailor, cook, steward, oiler, coal-passer, or water-tender-whichever branch he has chosen-begins work at from $60 to $75 a month, with 50 per cent additional should he be sent into the war zone.

In order to be enrolled in an officers' or an apprentice school, the applicant must pass a thorough physical examination and must be an American citizen.

The strength of the personnel of the merchant marine at the present time is in the neighborhood of 75,000. If the war ends in 1920 and we have by then a merchant fleet of 3,500 ships, as is now the reasonable prospect, we shall need an additional 100,000 men, besides the number which must be recruited as replacement crews to take the places of those men who will return to shore life at the end of the


THE REMAINING MAJOR TASK Having mobilized and trained the necessary man power for the task of building a vast merchant fleet; having provided the workmen with satisfactory surroundings and with the material which goes into the making of those ships; having begun to launch and fit out the ships themselves with something approaching quantity production; having organized machinery for the recruiting and schooling of officers and crews to man those ships, and having actually developed an appreciable number of such officers and seamen, the remaining major task of the United States Shipping Board lay in the direction of expanding the facilities of our ports and harbors in order to eliminate the woeful congestion which existed and still exists, and which would have become still worse as the number of ships increased.

James J. Hill, that great phrase-maker of commercial life, once defined a seaport as the funnel through which a country's commerce flows, and added the truism that the volume of traffic which a line can carry (be it a railway line or a steamship line) cannot exceed the capacity of its


Every one admits today that the conditions, both at our own chief seaports and in France, at the time American troops first landed Over There were "pretty bad." It may be that there was some exaggeration in the story that the great freighter Nansemond, formerly the German ship Pennsylvania, a cargo-carrier of 15.000 tons, lay alongside a dock at Brest for three weeks and then had to


Committee on Public Information


The 7,500-ton fabricated steel ship is expected to make a speed of 111⁄2 knots an hour, while the 3,500-ton wooden ship of the Ferris type has engines which send it through the seas at a speed of 10 knots. The shaft horsepower of the engines in the steel vessel is 2,500, while the indicated horsepower of the latter is 1,400.

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gested condition in the French ports of debarkation were effectually remedied, but there still remain many things to be done before our ships can be utilized to their maximum efficiency.

To expedite the correction of existing shortcomings, and to make ready for that new merchant fleet of millions of tons capacity, President Wilson suggested a conference among officials of the Shipping Board, the War Department, and. the Railroad Administration. As the outcome of that conference, the Shipping Board, on May 23 of this year, created a Port and Harbor Facilities Commission.

The reading public, through many channels of publicity. is fairly familiar with the work of the Shipping Board under the chairmanship of Edward N. Hurley; it knows of the achievements of Charles M. Schwab, Director General, and of Charles Piez, Vice-President and General Manager of the Emergency Fleet Corporation; it is conversant with the activities of Henry Howard, who directs the Merchant Marine Recruiting Service, but thus far the opportunities, difficulties. and lasting importance of the Port and Harbor Facilities Commission have been strangely overlooked by the American press.

The personnel of the Commission itself


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Committee on Public Information


The first turbine-driven vessel ever built was the Turbinia, which developed a speed of 341⁄2 knots an hour on its trial trip in the spring of 1897. Today most of the high-speed merchant and naval craft of Great Britain and the United States are equipped with turbines.

suggests the ramified interests which it affects. E. F. Carry, until recently director of operations of the Shipping Board, is the chairman; Vice-Chairman S. M. Felton represents the War Department's interests; Rear Admiral H. H. Rousseau is spokesman for the Emergency Fleet Corporation; the navy is represented by Captain A. C. Hodgson; J. H. Rosseter speaks for the Division of Operations of the Shipping Board and Pacific Coast steamship interests, T. C. Powell for the United States Railway Administration, and G. S. Dearborn for the Atlantic Coast steamship interests, while E. Logan Hill, formerly assistant general manager of the Erie Railroad, is the dynamic secretary of the Commission. and F. T. Chambers, U. S. Navy, is its chief engineer.

The task which lies before the Commission is Herculean. It must devise ways and means to enable our ports to

handle an unimagined volume of war material, foodstuffs, and troops in less time than man ever before attempted such a feat.

The speed with which ships can be loaded and bunkered on this side, unloaded Over There, and started back for another cargo is the supremely vital factor in the maintenance of the three-tons per fighting man ratio. Any slackening of pace necessarily means additional tonnage, for a ship that makes a round trip between New York and Bordeaux or Brest in six weeks is exactly one-half as valuable as the ship of the same tonnage which can make the "turn-around" in three weeks.

The price which a rapidly growing seaport pays for its prosperity is the development of its shipping facilities along lines of transitory expediency rather than those of lasting and economical expansion New York presents a flagrant example

of a city whose commerce has grown so rapidly as to outrun the imagination of its builders. Hence a congestion at railway terminals and at docks which defies immediate solution.

The Port and Harbor Facilities Commission has found it wise to begin surveys of ports all along the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific seaboards, to determine how and where best to divert a part of our commerce from New York Harbor.

These surveys embrace a vast deal of data. Not only is it essential to know the amount of commerce which has through a given port in time of peace, but what are its possibilities with respect to railway connectio..s, the labor situation, the productivity of the adjacent territory; what amount and kind of imports can be absorbed in the neighboring States, as well as the kind of exports which can be handled most expeditiously and economically. It is obviously impractical to ship cotton from Boston or New York when it can be shipped from Savannah, Ga., the doorway of the cotton fields; but it is equally impractical to bring the cotton cargo-carrier into Savannah to discharge imports from Liverpool destined for New England consumption.

Likewise, it is a waste of time and labor to route all our coffee imports either through New Orleans or New York. The logical scheme would be to bring into New Orleans that portion of the Brazil crop which is consumed in the South and West, and that portion destined for the North and East through New York. These are typical elementary problems which the Commission considers in its surveys. Their number is legion.

One of the most important phases of the Commission's labors is to make provision for the proper and expeditious coaling of ships and for their prompt and thorough repair. A number of contracts have been let for the construction of dry docks, and financial assistance is being accorded private firms for the erection of wharves, piers, warehouses, improved machinery for bunkering, and for the installation of cranes and other modern loading and unloading devices. Repair yards are being built in several ports, and the plans for these are carefully scrutinized by the Commission's engineering

experts, in order to insure adequate facilities for the new commerce carriers.

No part of the shipping program is fraught with greater possibilities for constructive accomplishment than that entrusted to the Port and Harbor Facilities Commission.


The economic waste which results from the improper handling of freight at terminals is appalling. The opportunity for improvement of conditions is demonstrated by the fact that the average cost of hauling a ton of freight for a distance of 240 miles in the United States is 74 cents, while the expense of handling that same freight at the terminals is 75 cents. Goods once loaded may be transported from Havana, Cuba, to Boston, a distance of more than 1,300 miles, cheaper than they can be moved from one pier to another in that city. And it has been estimated that a cargo of coal, after it has been loaded on board ship, can be moved from New York to Rio de Janeiro for less than it can be moved a distance of 60 feet on the docks by ordinary. methods.

That the task of loading and unloading a ship can be developed to a science. by the employment of highly specialized machinery and the use of docks specially built for specific kinds of cargoes has been demonstrated on the Great Lakes. where iron ore which formerly was hoisted from a ship's hold and moved to the ore pile for 50 cents a ton is now handled at less than one-tenth that cost.

Gratifying progress has been made in the rapidity with which our ships are being dispatched abroad, and the improvement is continuing. Two ships are now doing the work which it required three to do a few months ago. The procession of cargo-carriers in and out of our harbors reminds one of a never-ending merchant marine review. Every six minutes a merchant ship arrives and another departs from American ports. Sailings for Europe are even bettering that famous railway advertising slogan, "A train every hour on the hour" a Europe-bound vessel departs every 40 minutes. These

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