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The Bethlehem Shipyard - the Trend


Imports and Exports - Pre World War II
Shipbuilding During World War II
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After the war and during the Depression, the shipbuilding industry at the Port survived by concentrating on ship repair. Matters changed dramatically at the start of World War II. Because of the Port's relative proximity to the Pacific theater, it was swept into the war effort on a massive scale. Every shipbuilding and repair facility at the Harbor worked furiously to meet contract orders. Smaller facilities produced auxiliary vessels such as subchasers, patrol boats, PT boats, landing craft, rescue boats, barges, and tugs. Larger facilities handled most large-scale production work.

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The California Shipbuilding Corporation (located at Berths 212 and 213) was the largest yard at the port and concentrated on building Liberty and Victory ships. Additional large-scale ship producers included the Los Angeles Shipbuilding & Drydock Corporation (later managed by Todd Shipyard) and Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation. Consolidated Steel Corporation and Western Pipe and Steel (located in the far northwestern area of the harbor) represented the temporary wartime facilities at Los Angeles Harbor. Throughout the war, shipbuilding at Los Angeles Harbor continued at a frenzied pace. At its high point, nearly 90,000 workers were employed simultaneously at the various shipbuilding yards at the Port. The Port of Los Angeles ultimately became one of the main arteries that supplied and sustained the Allied victory.

Following World War II, the huge surplus of Navy and commercial ships resulted in the downsizing or closing of many shipyards throughout the country. Shipyards at the Port which ceased functioning included California Shipbuilding Corporation, Los Angeles Shipbuilding & Drydock Corporation, Consolidated Steel Corporation, and Western Pipe and Steel. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation remained in operation at the Port until the 1980s, when its yard was obtained by Southwest Marine. Southwest Marine has operated the yard as a ship repair facility since then. (Modern photos of Berth 240.)