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A Close-up of the Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard

 We often forget the gargantuan human effort that went in to Allied war effort during the Second World War, so it's always pertinent when old photographs emerge to remind us all how hard our forefathers had to strive in order to ensure the freedom of future generations. Below is a collection of images that capture life at the short-lived Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyard, which was located in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. In addition to the wonderful images, you'll be able to learn more about the shipyard as you scroll down. Take a look:
 
Click on images to enlarge
 
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The Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyard was one of two new emergency shipyards constructed in the United States during World War II. These operations were part of the Emergency Shipbuilding Program, which was established by the US Maritime Commission in 1941.

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The Emergency Shipbuilding Program was conceived because the US government needed to be able to move troops, material and cargo to allied countries, as well as to foreign theaters of war. In just four short years, more than 6,000 ships were built as part of the program.

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Bethlehem-Fairfield got the first part of its name from the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, which the US government entrusted to run it. The second part came from its location, which was in the Fairfield area of the city of Baltimore.

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The very first ship to launch from the Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyard was the Liberty Ship SS Patrick Henry. President Roosevelt presided over the ceremony. The occasion came to be known as Liberty Fleet Day, and that’s because 14 ships were launched across the US on the very same day. Some 384 of all the ships constructed at the shipyard during its time in operation were Liberty Ships, and each one was designed to carry more than 10,000 tons of cargo.
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Despite being designed to have a capacity of 10,000 tons, it was often the case that the ships carried much larger volumes of cargo in order to meet the demands of the US’ wartime needs. By the time the war was nearing its end, the construction process for the ships had been streamlined so much that, in some cases, they were ready to launch in just a single month.

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Nowadays, the former site of the shipyard is occupied by the entrance to the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, so there sadly isn’t anything left to see. When it was active, the shipyard employed some 27,000 people, and they built no less than 523 emergency ships in the space of four years.

 

Content and image source: Mashable Retronaut

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