Unlocking North Vancouver History

A Riveted Community: North Vancouver’s Wartime Shipbuilding

Victory Ships

North Vancouver shipyards were extremely busy at the peak of wartime construction. It was said that you could cross from one end of Burrard Dry Dock to the other — a distance of half a kilometre — without touching the ground, by scrambling over the many vessels simultaneously being finished. Construction was swift. During 1942 and 1943, it took approximately 100 days to launch and finish each ship. In 1942 the company built the SS Fort Wedderburne in only 92 days; her keel was laid on July 16, she was launched on September 20 and delivered on October 15. The Burrard Dry Dock Company built 109 of these 10,000-ton cargo ships — 54 at its north yard and 55 at its south yard. Neighbouring North Van Ship Repairs built 55.

After the ship hulls had been launched, they were brought to dockside for fitting out with interior furnishings, masts and electrical equipment. The piles of lumber were used for decking.

At Burrard Dry Dock, a series of short piers accommodated construction materials, cranes and equipment, and provided easy access for workers.

As the war wound down in the summer of 1945, this final group of 10,000-ton ships was being built for the British Royal Navy.

The identifiable hulls in this photo, whose fitting out is nearly complete, are No. 235, HMS Fifeness; No. 233, HMS Girdle Ness; and No. 234, HMS Dodman Point.

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