Who Built This Ship? Transcript

Narrator: In 1941, the Navy ramped up production at navy yards and private shipyards to meet the threat of war. Success depended on shipyard workers across the country.

Susan Chu: We wanted to do our part. Everybody was so angry.

Charles Chu: Our country’s so unlimited in manpower and money and all of that. Boy, I couldn’t believe how fast we could work.

Narrator: Naval shipbuilding requires state of the art engineering skills. Many shipyard workers were highly trained craftsmen with decades of experience.

Charles Chu: When we start buckling down, the ships come into dry dock with big holes in them. Take you a couple of days, and this ship was sailing already!

Narrator: But wartime demand for skilled labor far outpaced supply. In shipyards across the country, new hires received a few weeks of training before starting work. A small but significant number of those new workers were women.

Lillian Carson: It’s funny how life turns you around…to be a lady welder is something you never even think of.

Mabel McCray: The female welders got more attention than anyone else because everyone outside come in to see what we looked like.

Rose Abbonizio: Some men resented women. They felt it, you know, wasn’t work for a woman, and some men were very glad to get someone to help them.

Narrator: All shipyard workers faced challenging working conditions.

Carson: You had to work seven days a week. It was compulsory.

Abbonizio: In the winter it was icy cold. And the summer, it was hot as blazes.

Narrator: But they did the impossible: they built and maintained the largest Navy the world had ever seen.

Intrepid’s keel was laid down on December 1, 1941 in the Newport News shipyard. For the next two years, thousands of workers put in long hours to finish Intrepid and its sister ships. Intrepid’s crew was grateful for their hard work.

Joe Murphy: Thank God for Rosie because she, the rivets were pretty good on the Intrepid and we didn’t, we had no problem