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Trial Run

At Marinship, it took just over two months to construct this 524-foot tanker that carried 120,400 barrels of oil to the South Pacific.

ONCE THE UNITED States entered World War II, things happened fast. In early 1942, it took just three months for the W. A. Bechtel Company to erect Marinship (long name: Marin Shipbuilding Division of the W. A. Bechtel Company) along 210 acres of the northern Sausalito shoreline. Under the Emergency War Powers Act, dozens of residents were evicted with only two weeks’ notice, almost one million cubic yards of earth and rock were excavated and nearly 26,000 pilings were driven into the bay to create five launching ways. Construction involved 6,000 workers toiling around the clock. By year’s end, five Liberty ships had been launched. Then on June 10, 1943, the keel was laid for the SS Mission Purisima and on November 5 the ship embarked for sea trials, utilizing a 300-foot-wide, 1.5-mile-long ship channel — made possible by the dredging of over 3,000,000 cubic yards of bay mud — to reach the then six-year-old Golden Gate Bridge. In all, during its three years and six months of operation, Marinship launched a total of 93 ships — 15 Liberty cargo ships, 16 fleet oilers and 62 tankers. Marin City, with schools, churches and stores, was developed to house the 6,000 of Marinship’s 20,000 workers who were employed at any one time.

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