Unlocking North Vancouver History

A Riveted Community: North Vancouver’s Wartime Shipbuilding

Victory Ship Arrangement

Responding to Britain’s urgent need, the Canadian government organized the production of merchant ships through a Crown corporation, Wartime Merchant Shipping Ltd. Led by Vancouver industrialist H. R. MacMillan, it co-ordinated and supervised the mass production of 10,000-ton freighters. Every participating shipyard in the country used standardized plans. The first 50 cargo ships built at Burrard Dry Dock were based on the North Sands design (from Thompson North Sands Shipyard in Sunderland, England), which was suited to mass production by unsophisticated industries. This plan shows the Victory design, a Canadian improvement that made the ships more economical to operate. It replaced the North Sands’ three coal-fired Scotch marine boilers with two oil-fired water-tube boilers, saving fuel and requiring fewer firemen. Burrard built 59 ships of this design. Later Victory ships, called Canadian types, had both oil tanks and coal bunkers so that they could burn either fuel.

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This General Arrangement Inboard Profile plan for a Victory ship shows its general configuration, including cargo holds and accommodation for crew and gunners.

Hull Department draftsmen completed the ship plans in the Burrard Dry Dock drawing office. The design was based on prototypes developed between 1935 and 1941.

This plan is dated July 1943. Burrard Dry Dock’s first Victory ship, the SS Fort Columbia, was completed on July 12, 1943.

H. R. MacMillan, a leading British Columbia lumberman, industrialist and philanthropist, became a “dollar-a-year” man, volunteering his energy and skill for Canada’s emergency shipbuilding program.

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