Eight companies operated ten shipyards
that employed 10,000 at the peak of the war. Stockton companies
received government contracts because they met the War Department's
requirement that manufacturing of strategic military materiel
be produced 60 miles or more from the sea in order to be outside
the range of naval gunfire. Most companies were located along
a channel that once was the waterway for paddlewheel steamers.
The largest of the companies was Pollock's
Construction Company, which leased 50 acres on the north side
of the Stockton Channel near Louis Park for the initial construction
of floating dry docks. These floating "dock yards,"
which enabled the Navy to repair ships at sea without having
to send them to shipyards, were 300 yards long and five stories
high. Later Pollock's built rescue boats, invasion barges, supply
boats, salvage boats, cargo barges, seaplane and net tenders.
Pollock's reached a peak employment of
8,000 in 1944. The shipyard closed down in February 1946.
The first local shipbuilding operations
were assigned in 1940 to Colberg Boat Works and Stephens Brothers,
a joint contract for construction of six-yard mine sweepers.
Colberg soon became one of the largest
shipbuilding operations constructing some 45 vessels at a cost
of more than $20 million. The Colberg output included mine sweepers
costing $322,000 each, sub chasers costing $332,000 each as well
as salvage, patrol, refueling and lifeboats. Toward the end of
the war the boat works repaired and salvaged battle-damaged ships
at a cost of more than $1 million. Colberg also built salvage,
rescue and refrigerator boats for the British Navy. By 1945 there
were 1,205 workers on the payroll and 2,000 officers and enlisted
men were stationed at the shipyards.
Stephens Brothers constructed mine sweepers
and rescue boats for the Navy, salvage boats, tugs and rescue
craft for the Army, and picket boats for the Coast Guard. They
had 460 employees.
Hickinbotham Brothers, who started in
1866 as a wagon and carriage shop, changed to hardware and steel
jobbing and entered a shipbuilding project with Guntert and Zimmerman
to build scores of small boats for the Navy under contracts totaling
more than $1 million.
Other shipbuilding for small craft projects
was conducted by Kyle and Company, Clyde Wood, Moore Company,
Nicholson's and Stockton Steel Fabrications Company.
References: Stockton During
World War II; a Newsman's Reminiscences by Mel Bennett in the
July 1984 issue of Stockton Legionnaire.
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