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A Brief Talk by the Chairman.
United States Maritime Commission, er ;'
Admiral Emory S. Land (U. S. N. Ret.)
to the Shipbuilding Workers of the
Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation, Pasca-
goula, Mississippi, Saturday, June 28,1941.
S E shipbuilders of the Gulf Coast have launched today the first all-welded
passenger-carrying ship in the history of the world. It is the S. S. AFRICAN
-COMET-which will soon be put in service bythe American South African Line.
In normal times this would be one of the scientific achievements of the year.
Today, its scientific importance is far overshadowed by its importance to our
national welfare.in adding one more merchant ship capable of serving as.a
I want to repeat and to stress the descriptions which our President-rhas
given of the insecurity of this country today, with a towering wave of ruthless
aggression threatening to break over our heads.
SThe shipbuilders of the Gulf, the Atlantic, and the Pacific Coasts and of the
Great Lakes are pushing back that wave with every ship they launch, whether
merchant or naval.
S All hands are doing a splendid job here in Pascagoula,- The MaritimeCom-
mission congratulates you! You are the shipbuilders of this country as well
Sas the men who sit in the front office.
The men in the front office, are vital but you are the actual "Arm and
H, ammner Brand" builders. Ships are built by the ien in.the yards. They are
S kilt'with cranes and we6ers' torches and paint brushes and hammers-built
by loyal Americans!.
S Your employers and the.Government have given you a genuine incentive for
: .your ~b st all-out efforts ai the "Regional Labor Wage Stabilization" programs
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recently announced. Ship builders' wages are not increased by millions only,
but by hundreds of millions in the overall picture.
We of the Maritime Commission have been told by the President to see that
a vast fleet of merchant ship is built-and built while they can still be of some
use, that is, built for his ir, not-as were the Hog Island ships-for some
other war. Time is the essence!
We have told the men in the front offices. They have told you. They know
that we must build ships faster than we've ever built them before in our his-
tory. You know it, too. We want your cooperation. I have faith in you-
I know we will get your cooperation.
You all heard President Roosevelt say in his last fireside talk that:
"The blunt truth is this-and I reveal this with the full knowledge of the
British Government: the present rate of Nazi sinkings of merchant ships is
more than three times as high as the capacity of British shipyards to replace
them; it is more than twice the combined British and American output of
merchant ships today."
All hands in the yards are going to change that by joint effort.
The President said, "We can answer this peril by two simultaneous measures:
First, by speeding up and increasing our great shipbuilding program; and
second, by helping to cut down the losses on the high seas."
The President and the men of the Navy are working in partnership on the
problem of cutting down losses. But to speed up and increase our shipbuilding
program, the partnership changes. In building, every workman in this yard
and in every other yard is a partner in the enterprise. Without your partner-
ship this Government cannot deliver on its promise to build ships fast
enough to supply, not only Britain and the other Democracies with the vital
materials they need to survive, but also to make our commercial, naval, and
military defenses impregnable.
Each man should do an honest day's work, and when he has finished it,
should go home content in the knowledgethat he has done a good job and
can do another good day's work tomorrow. And there will be a day's work
tomorrow. There will be jobs in shipbuilding for years and the quicker we
build the ships, the more jobs there will be. We need 300,000 more workers
Our estimates, our promises, and our expectations depend on you-upon
the productivity of labor.
Let's be frank about our situation. We are in a state of unlimited emer-
gency, declared by our President. We are in a state of acute danger. If
Hitler's Germany will overnight turn and attack a nation which has been on
its side, it won't hesitate to attack us, a nation which is clearly playing on
the other team.
Some of our fellow citizens are in positions where they will defend us
directly against a direct attack. They are your brothers, cousins, and friends
in the Army, Navy, and Marines. But just as devastating, just as demoralizing
and just as destructive of our homeland is the indirect attack which is already
under way in the attempt to wipe out the brotherhood of free, democratic
This powerful "indirect" assault can only be met by an equally powerful
indirect offense. That offense lies in the "all-out" production of airplanes and
tanks and guns-and ships and more ships.
Again let's be frank. When I ask for your cooperation, I am asking that
everyone of you make it his own personal responsibility to build ships fast
enough to defeat Hitler. I am asking that every one of you make "that little
spark of conscience," which George Washington spoke of, his own guide.
"Spark of Conscience"
I've worked in shipyards and drafting rooms long enough to know that you
can greatly increase your output when you put your heart into the job. There
are a hundred and one time-consuming practices which can be eliminated,
from outright loafing when the leading man or quarterman is not around, to
asking questions of the foreman when you know the answer already. No
supervisor can see all these and stop them. I wouldn't want him to if he could.
We aren't going to defend ourselves successfully unless the working men of
the country want to do the job. If you want to keep Hitler out of this hemi-
sphere, you'll use that "spark of conscience" as your guide and make yourself
build faster whether there is a straw boss around or not.
It's like the Captain and Chief Engineer who for years argued bitterly over
which was more important to the operation of the ship-the bridge or the
engine room. Finally they agreed to change places. After about 5 hours,
the Captain came up from the engine room covered with grease and sweating
like a horse. "You win," he said, "I've been trying for 3 hours to make
her turn over and I'm a failure." "Well, maybe that's partly my fault," said
the Chief, "about 3 hours ago I put her aground stern first."
No compulsion but the greatest could get me to ask that work be stopped
for an appeal of this sort. But that great compulsion is here!
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This is an appeal for loyalty-for loyalty of the greatest kind-loyalty to the
British shipyard workers too, loyalty which will preserve their freedom as
well as their lives.
Loyalty to these United States! Loyalty to civilization
We Are Threatened!
And it is loyalty to your own soldiers and sailors and to your own wives,
sweethearts, mothers, and children too. Let no one think that this continent
is not threatened
President Roosevelt said, "Nobody can foretell tonight just when the acts
of the Dictators will ripen into attack on this hemisphere and us. But we
know enough by now to realize that it would be suicide to wait until they are
in our front yard."
We don't have enough ships today to meet our needs. In order to give the
Army and the Navy auxiliaries like the AFRICAN COMET we have had to cut
out normal services and..that, in itself, hurts the defense program. It is
hurting and will hurt every one of us. We must tighten our belts, we must
distribute the burden.
So my plea to you and to all other shipbuilders is to do your jobs-to build
these ships as fast as you can.
Very little humor ever crosses the path of the Maritime Commission but
occasionally there is a touch of humor in our official documents. The situation
today is like that revealed in an action which the Commission took the other
day. We were asked to approve the surrender of the marine document of a
vessel known as the JUNE BRIDE. The reasons given were "a change in service
and a change in tonnage as disclosed by readmeasurement."
Service for Defense
You workers likewise are concerned in a change in service and a change in
tonnage. Service for the defense of your country and increased tonnage to
"deliver the goods." I hope your answer will be given in the names of two
ships which were recently sold to the British, "DON'T WORRY" and "URGE ME"I
Remember, in a Hitler world, if we don't'hang together, we'll surely hang
Being a sort of sailor man, may I conclude by paraphrasing the immortal
Nelson-The United States expects every man to do his duty. We know
U. 8. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE 16-22408
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