Skip to main content

Full text of "The history and development of shipbuilding in Baltimore."

See other formats

IJlie ffl«ry »f skips Is an •Id, old a«ng, 

I» tk<9 day£ wk^K tke s«a rovars ram, 

la tkeir tpeia b«ats tkru tk^ rtaring surf, 

Aad tkfl spread tf the w»rld begaa, 

?k9 gl»ry tf skips is a ligkt on tke sea, 

Amd a star ia the sttry if maa. 

TTeary Van Dyke. 


Thfl History md I>eT«l@pm^nt of Shipbuilding in Biltimor«. 

Thrt history of shipbuilding in ^altimar** must be 
tric*d back to the yery founding of Baltimor* town in 1729. 
The hearty founders drew their exiatence from the water about 
them and of neeessity built the craft rhieh supplied th*m 
with th« m«ans of obtaining? their livlihood from th» river 
and bay. I'hus deTel»ped a craft wlich in iti exowth -nrodaQed 
the larger nhips as the more ambitious spread out into larger 
fields of -ntTprise. I'he skipjack, a lisrht boat, not mu«h 
larger than a skif , eouipped with a single maat wae the 
recognized boat of the fish-r'ian, while the bugeye with its 
graceful lines and two towering masts was used by the eyster- 
man. As th" town grow and the rich agrioulture fi-lds about 
were eultiyated, ships from for-ign waters '»nter'>d th" harbor 
and w- learn from history that th*y penetrated as far as 
Klkridge Landing on the patapaco Kiver to load tobacco lor 

The small repair wharves were -nlarged to meet the de- 
mands of th'? unceasing trade and th* building oi larger ships 
at Baltimore town was bepun. ."j'rom this infant industry grow 
th° famous shipyards of Baltimore, which built a type of ship 
recognized over th-* entire wcrld as th* most beautiful and 
fleetest that sailed the soa. i'he Baltimcr* clipoer carried 
the city's coramerc* on every aea and their tali masts and full 



Bugeye used for dred^uj. 

A MafyUsd Bklpiack. 


sails under i weight of canras en*ibl<^d th-im to show a cloan 
pair of h»"l;-T to any sraft which racfjd with thrill 

A Cakimytc Clipper 
After a contemporary photograph 

rjothing was more conducive to .h° building of these 
fast and beautiful Tres :els than th^ Kra^ilian coffee trade. 
i'he riTal merchant a ef Baltimore vied with on- another in 
securing the greatest amount of trade v/ith this routh Amer- 
ican port, Rio de Janerie. Chesapeake to Brazil became the 
cry ef shipowners and shipbuilders. TTasters and hearty sea- 
men strained ev*ry nerve to reach Brazil and return to Balti- 
m.ore ahead of th*ir rival. Josephine 11, evm-d by G. ivorton 
Stewart, held th* r'^cord for the fleet as making the fast- 
est passap-e from Kio de janerio. She was reported off Gape 
amnr;^ taking pilot on board, twenty- two days from the South 
American port. The r-^port was unbelieveable to th* ov;ner 

and doubted by th« wiseacres of the waterfront. I'he rrances, 


Captain ?«t*r Briekscn, also of th« Btflwart fl<^«t, followed 
in tw«nty-six days from Goff^« Port, havinp mlsEiad. th* un- 
praesd^nted streak of favoring winds that had driven Joseph- 
ine 11 to ma>re a record nev*r etnialled. 

Although these vessels wer« DUi.ii/ lor peac;exu.x puro^ii^t., 
th« war of 1812 Saund thera ready and willing to defi»nd th'-ir 
rights on the ocean. Baltimore sent ouu ma''* orivauser^ than 
any other shipbailding port and v'as called by the angry tiritish 
a nest of pirates. I'he masters and sailors were so confident 
and proud of th-* sp-ed of their v-ssels that one during privat- 
eer leader, Captain ijoyle , proeliimad a blockade of the ^jritish 
const. uf course this coulci. not be carried out, but ships 
built at jaltiraore made many captures in th» harbors of iinglanoL 

i%e civil war hov-'ever , caused a decline in th* ship 
building Indus r.ry In Baltimore since th« lan*s of th** tjouth 
American commerce wer* menaced by th* confedTate privateers. 
This fact caus"d insnj Baltimcsr <=> ships to seek for-^ign regis- 
try by which they vrer" permitted th" freedom of the seas, 
Thes» v(«S3els with alien nurses n-v^r laid th»lr h»el3 within 
the national lircits, over which th« flag th-y assumed had 

while we may trace t/ <=> beginninr of our .great shipbuild- 
ing industry to tl e time before th«» uivil war it did not 
reach it5 zenith until the close of the conflict and the seas 
were then clear of confederatecruisers, uur shipyards and 
dry docks inereased in number and siz" and the industry was 
revived with new vigor. Howev'>r, oaltlm~re was unabl- to 
meet the demands for new bottoms *n d many ships, still known 


as ijaltimBr'? clippers, wera built olaswherr. xh-- otliar 
builders deviated scm*(What from tli« original clippers 
type, v/hiGh was bark*d rigged and bailt a bark^ntine, which 
lost U}.* grac^ and sp'^*d oi th^ original, but gain»d great- 
er oargo oapscity. i'hus th^ typ"« of which rjaltimor'^ was sc 
proud gradually lost its id'^ntity. 

During the peak of this industry, foreign nations 
were sliTe to t}.e value of t is fleet r^inged inese^ng«r of 
th" aeas and on many oceaeeions spies vlslt'^d Baltimore 
shVo yards :,_ oraer uc learn tn^ secret of eonatructlon of 
these vessels, rr. l;- u- uavis, a ship architect, while 
searching the iJer xork Uity library for infcrmstion per- 
taining to his voaation, found among some old plates on 
maciiin«ry and steamboat design, the plat*s of ].'. M«restier, 
a iiT-nch sny, who sent data home to rrance describing fully 
the lines of a ualtimor* clipper-, it was from this inform- 
ation that we were abie to learn some of th« particulars of 
our lost art. lit. li. uaresti^r writes in reference to this 
historic vessel that the rigging was remarkable for its 
lightness, uther marine \7rit*rs in endeavoring to locate 
th* manner of eonstruclion, have teld us that they wer* 
copies of th* rrench luggers that came to aid America dur- 
ing th^ Hevoluti«n. uthers siad thfit tl"^y were the product 
of th» war of 1812. r.r. Davis however, contends that the ' 
Swedes of the Chesapeake built what v/as a national type ol 
craft, but in the sh'>lt'^ring wat»r of th» Chesapeake built 
tr.era light aviG rigged ur.em iiu snmplacity of gear, that is 
in Itself arj aid to speed in sailing craft. 


7/ith thfl advent of st^arn, th-^ shipyards and dry decks w^rq 
gradually usad for th** construotion of tho later typ?* Tea- 
sels and th<» whole atmosphnr<^ and tlr^ charact*?rs which pi'e- 
domlnat^d around th^ wat^^r front changed. 

•^al timer e is knovn as a city o± first tJings and in 
this industry of which I am writing, has th*? distinction 
of building th*^ first successful submarine. Although many 
eicp'irim'^nts had be«n p*»rform©d, th'> first real subraarin© 
to perform satisfactorily under test, was thn Arganot, 
built Simon Lalc^, at the Gelumaia Iron V.'orks of this city. 
It was an automobile type of subnarine with th" power to 
float, sink and nrepell itself, while submorged, Eilong the 
bettom. (The prime object of th'' building of this submar- 
ine was to salvaffe wrecks. Ouit= different from the id-^a 
prsTalent at this tine, a diyer was able to leave th" 
Tees'^1 and return while submerged, and attach a cabl'^ t« 
the wrecka^'? to be moved. While on the bottom it ran on 
thre« wheels which had gripping teethe en the circumferoncf^ 

The air breathed by the occupants wan supplied from the 
surface and th° jirganot remained under water during its 
trial trip for four hours. Although the principle of the 
embodied In the Arpanet v;as quite suoceseful, tl:« propell- 
ing of whorls on the bottom was discarded in lat-^r types. 
Following the Arpanet another submarine was built abeut 
tha year 1896, by tho Holland Grmpany. Little did wa 
think that the ideas embodied in this primitive submarine 
could be utilized in th« construction of th^ monster of 
the deep which alm.ost annihilated th^ world commerce. 

TIk* r'^putatien of th^ shipyards of Baltimore had b^oemo s» 

famous ^ that th'^ first ccmm«»rGial forai*rn subraariri'^, the 
Deutoliland, S'^lect'^d tide harbeur as its landing- place 
aft-^r its wondprful eptch making trip acress thq Atlantic. 

Again aaltiraor'^ cam<i forward in making ©n*^ of th« 
fcr«>at»st advancqra'?nt3 of th° shipbuilding industry of the 
wcrld. Hi^rAtcfera th^r^ had be-^n difjioulty in deokinpr 
th= larp*? T^^asels of th*^ United i'tat'^s fl^at. Althoufrh 
Baltimor*^ hac th^ second lar^'^st docks? on th^ ji-j-auiiio 
seaboard, they proved inadequate, as the vesselR of our 
government increased in sise. Hence it became necessary 
to build another type of drydock to accomodate the ever 
increasing tonnage, xe meet this demand, on October 15, 
1901, a large ste^l floating drydcck, constructed by the 
Maryland Ste--! company at Eparrsvzs P»int, for t}:e United 
Stat'^B Government, started on a vaya^e of tno thousand 
miles, tovred by powerful sea-p:oing tugs, to Algeria, La. 
wbere it was put into service, The whole world v/atch°d 
this ex-perim^nt , and although many couli realir-.e the use 
«f aueh a dry dock at th^ point cf its construction, very 
fev; admitted tiat it coi:ld be t erect from place to nlace 
Siiccespfully, ai^ f^w others than th'> desip-ners had hipes 
©f it reachinrr its destination ivo thousand miles away. 

It is certai-'L that th's immense piece of rriarine 
mechanlL'm tcr lift'.Rg frlant vensels out of th« water to 
clean and r-^rair is without equal in ito line. It can 
riase a fifteen thousand ton bat tie shir, aid have its floors 
two feet above the water level, which is demanded by the 


D'/~y cs'ocfc. Cei-/e.v i^t-fh -i.^. /owo 


^ovarnmont, but witli th'^* floor <^y^n with th^ wat'^r 1'^tqI it 
can lift an eia-ht'^qn thousand ton ship. An rianiarkahle fact 
is that the dock can dock its?)ll fer r'^pairs and painting. 
Just hOT' this is dono i will -^icplain la tor, 

Felltwinf? this wondfirful marine aGhl9V**ni«?nt th^ Mary- 
land St^-^l Company at Tjoarrows point, in th*;* y^ar 1905, 
conpl<ited th<* most valuable drydock in th" worid, which was 
nam°a by Mr 8. riaude Bndioett, daushtisir sf K»ar Admiral 
Endicitt, Chi^if of Bureau ef Yards and Dtcke, U. f?. IJavy, 
Dewey. j? monster was built for service in th"^ Philli- 
pin^ Islands, it ivbh tered to Stltmon's Island, at thp 
moutii of th"* Patuxant p.ivar and suhject'^d to sev°rf> Koyorn- 
mant tests, accepted and prepared fcr its vo,vaF= across the 
Atlantic. It start'^Q on this unprecedented vo,vag;e near the 
close of the year 1905, expectin<? to reach its destination 
in May 1905. Jnlike th'> ot];er dock which was t ov^ed to 
Alsriers, la-.- , by sea-frolni? tugs, tliis nev^ly constructed 
deck was to\7ed by three united States u»lliers, and after 
many mishaps and vlcisaitudes, reached its d*»stinaticn In 
safely. This is .truly a triumnh for th» Baltimore ship- 
ba lid ins: industry, s^lnc^ th«y a^rreed to deliver it at 
t^anila. The contract price of tliiu ste-'l fleatiig machine 
was ^1,124,000 with additional Ghareies for chan^-os and 
modifications of deiiails, Th--^ dock rould i'loat a ship of 
£4,447 tons, altheufrh the centract called for 15,000 tens; 
tkus it wag prepared tc take care of eraJual inci^easin^ 
fiiKe cf warships. 


Elmiliar to th--' deck that xms built for Alsri^rs, lst , 
th*! Dftw^y v/as built in thr<?*> divisions, which enabled thq 
deck to dock itailf for repairs. on<* civisien v/as larp:f»r 
and t;vo wnr^ araall«r. Yrti.'iii th^ bottem of tlr* larKT 8«!otr 
i»n n^'^d'^d ol^anin^ th^ oth^r tv/o did th« work, 

Ti-^ dock was built on shore. A de^sp pit, alov«n 
f^ftt und-^r water l-'^vel v*as dup: and a oeffer dam ojastruct- 
ed to kaoD o£j«( water wut. Pil°3 were di'ivoTi iind plfctos ftf 
dock ViTere laia. At lattnohing th" csffer dam was removed, 
th** water allowed to flow in and th" dock floated, 

GtntentE ef TJrydtck Dewey 
3- B.W.Btilers 
3-24" Centrifugal :?umps 
Giinplete maokine sk»p 

Telipfetue ctinrauaicati«j4 with all parts tf ship. 
3- Secti»«P diTided int» 64- water tigkt o«mpartmont». 
c ©at r •lied at purapia? o»fflpa"'ftiiieBt f*T m»m Im tie r.isiag 
aad lowering mf dtck, 
mmplete yalve heuae 
C»aT«miemG98 and quarters f»r orew 
Bathrooms aad kitohe»s 

1^*9 dccjf was n«t ctmraanded by the •ffiaers mi the 
U.b. Nary, but was tffioered by a suberdiaate dept, 

The dtck was designed by Mr. ^-erhard Styrlander 
Cheif Draftsman tf the Marylaad Steel Gt. He wen ia 
cimpetien with six ethers, ef plans suhmitted by ether 
cempaaies te the Bureau ef Yards and Decks, ef the IJavy 


Mr, Styrlandar was resptnsible ts its build«ir8 
f»r «y«Tj pi9a»» tf macliinery, usal with its Gtnstructlta, 

Baltlmerfi has alwa.7S play«?d an Important part in the 
shipbuilding industry of the world. During th'^ vjorld war 

vrh^n iron and st^^l becaniPi soaroa th^ building of wood<9» 

ships was rflViT^d and many old square rigirers, built many 


yaars ago applif^d to our shipyards for repairs. our ship- 

yaria w»rp busy tivRnty-four houro a day and many a slacker 

uspd this as an excuse from duty abroad. About this time 

an attempt was mad«» to build ships of concrete, but the war 

elosed soon thereafter and the deria id for ships decreased. 

and tho experiment was not completed, our yards and docks 


are still anesffad In oariur for th^ thirty- four stRams-hip 
line's whioh ont«r our harbor from foraipn and domestic 
p«rts, b^sidps th^ thirt'^^^n thousand vi^ss^ls of all classes 
wkich atR ua*»d in th-^ iiay trad'?. 


uur Gity, State and JSatiea (Allan S,- Will; Maye^r and 


Sun Almanac 190E. }906. 

Old files ©f Sun pap°r, 

Sunday Sun of i'etiruary £4, 1924. 

Private* intgryiRW with form«»r reporter of Baltimore 

Hereld, now ^n^aged as librarian »f tjie j>altimor» Znn,