The Papers of the California Shipbuilding Corporation were created by and are about the California Shipbuilding Corporation,
which built Liberty and Victory ships during World War II. The shipyard was located at Terminal Island, near Long Beach and
San Pedro, California. The manuscript materials, photographs, and audio/visual materials were generated for public relations,
to announce ship launchings in local newspapers and to keep employees informed about company events and news in their publication,
CalShip Log, between 1941 and 1945.
California Shipbuilding Corporation was created by the United States Maritime Commission as an emergency shipyard to build
liberty ships during World War II. Its facilities were built on Terminal Island, California in early 1941, and included fourteen
shipways and ten outfitting docks, warehouses, equipment buildings, administrative offices, and more.
During its years of operation, The California Shipbuilding Corporation built 467 cargo and transport ships.
Ground was broken at Terminal Island in January of 1941. Nine months later S.S. JOHN C. FREMONT became the first ship to be
completed and launched. It took nearly eight months to build, but was completed 45 days ahead of schedule. It launched on
September 27, 1941, called “Liberty Fleet Day”, a day celebrated as launching day for 11 other liberty ships at shipyards
around the country.
After launching S.S. JOHN C. FREMONT, the shipbuilding process began to move much faster. Four additional ships were launched
in the last three months of 1941. The fastest vessel to be constructed was S.S. FINLEY P. DUNNE, which only took 31 days to
construct. The final ship built at California Shipbuilding Corporation, S.S. COUNCIL BLUFFS VICTORY, was launched on September
Each completed ship was launched with pomp and circumstance. Each ship had a sponsor, who was in charge of christening the
ship traditionally with a champagne bottle. Sponsors ranged from wives of employees and personnel to contest winners to film
and radio stars. Notable sponsors included movie star Bette Davis, singer Marian Anderson, and Mrs. Walt Disney, wife of the
entertainment industry entrepreneur.