FreightWaves Flashback — February 1967

The many industries that make up the world of freight have undergone tremendous change over the past several decades. Each Friday, FreightWaves will explore the archives of American Shipper’s nearly 70-year-old collection of shipping and maritime publications to showcase interesting freight stories of long ago.

The following is a transcribed article from the February 1967 edition of the Jacksonville Seafarer magazine. David A. Howard, the founder of Howard Publications Inc., launched the publication in Jacksonville, Florida. Howard later established the statewide maritime and trade publication Florida Journal of Commerce in 1969. He and his son, Hayes H. Howard, went on to expand it nationally in 1974, rebranding it as American Shipper. FreightWaves acquired American Shipper in July 2019.

Click here to view the entire edition of the Jacksonville Seafarer — February 1967.

Bringing the shipyard to the ship

By J.M. TuIIy, Jr., Captain, United States Navy C.O., USS Saratoga

The USS Saratoga is home again after a seven-month deployment in the Mediterranean. And once again it is time to make repairs that are always necessary after a ship such as ours has seen extensive duty. It’s a big job that necessitates a lot of hard work and a lot of coordination. During such a period all hands turn to in accomplishing the ship’s work in the limited time available. In years past, such a period also meant a trip to one of the Naval Shipyards such as Norfolk or Philadelphia.

Saratoga has been working to reduce substantially the time spent in one of these yards. In cooperation with Naval Station Mayport, Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc. and Atlantic Marine, Inc., we have endeavored to “bring the shipyard to the ship.” Beginning with the 1965 yard period, there has been an effort to get shipyard facilities into Mayport, and thus accomplish most of the work in our homeport.

Of course, there had to be some changes and elaborate preparations made to realize this goal. Atlantic Marine and Jacksonville Shipyards had to gear themselves to handle the problems of a Naval man-of-war. The Mayport Naval Station added the necessary pier facilities. Many conferences were held and many messages dispatched. Everything had to be ready by the time Sara returned from her seventh Mediterranean cruise.

$5,000,000 Job

When we pulled into port on October 26, our work was cut out for us. Nearly every department had some repairs to be made or new equipment to be installed. For example, on our last Med cruise, our ship recorded 10,730 landings. With such a demanding schedule of air operations naturally our catapult and arresting gear systems needed work when we got home. Our engineering plant had to have boiler repair and replacement of ductwork done. Weapons handling equipment had to be serviced. New electronic equipment had to be installed. Even little things like typewriters and duplicating machines needed attention. All in all, we were faced with a job that would cost five million dollars or over $55,000 per day.

In order to get as much of the work as possible accomplished in the limited time we have, five different forces must efficiently work together. These are the ship’s force, Industrial Manager Jacksonville (IndMan Jax), the contractors, the Naval Station, and the destroyer tender USS Arcadia. The ship’s force handles the painting of the ship, the resurfacing of the hangar and flight decks, and the assistance of the contractors.

IndMan Jax in Charge

IndMan Jax is charged with the responsibility of coordinating the work between the contractors and the ship. The head of IndMan Jax, Capt. John D. Small is represented on our ship by Comdr. W.T. Spellman. In essence, IndMan Jax is the link between the request and its fulfillment. Work orders go to IndMan Jax who assigns them to the contractor.


The bulk of the work is done by the prime contractors, Jacksonville Shipyards and Atlantic Marine. Currently, Jacksonville Shipyards employs 505 men to work on the ship itself, plus a number of ship workers on base and at their office. Atlantic Marine and Jacksonville Shipyards turn some of their work over to subcontractors. A look at just a portion of the list of subcontractors illustrates the variety of work to be done on Saratoga: Southeastern Valve Company, Diesel Engineering Company, Turner Electric Company, General Electric, Westinghouse, Jacksonville Rubber, Atlantic Firebrick, Jax Tile, and Dow Chemical. The civilian workers and the members of the crew work around the clock, seven days a week to get all of the work accomplished.

A large factor in getting our work done in Mayport has been the addition by Naval Station Mayport of pier-side facilities. Steam, compressed air, fresh water, electricity, and telephone lines are available to the ship. The station has constructed a power terminal on the pier as well as bringing in a mobile steam generating plant. These pier-side facilities allow us to repair equipment that could normally receive only minimal attention. For example, in years past, our air compressors were constantly in use during the yard period. This year they can be completely removed and overhauled. The fifth force is the USS Arcadia. Arcadia has taken on the task of making repairs on some small, but essential equipment.

Temporary Offices

Even with all of these agencies and their personnel, a lack of coordination could grind the work to a standstill. But lack of coordination can be partly controlled by centralization. If everyone has a space he can call his own, where he can be near the work, much of the confusion is eliminated.

This year nearly all of the management and administrative functions are being done right on the ship — to be precise, right in hangar bay two. Soon after we came into port, we lifted three house trailers aboard and furnished them with office equipment. In these trailers, representatives from the ship and IndMan Jax can be near the work, and much of the drafting is done in one of the trailers.

Adjacent to the trailers is a large, fenced-off area in which the contractors work. This also is used as a centralized work-space which doubles as tool and equipment storage area. A number of portable tool cribs, shops, and offices have been erected in this area. Jacksonville Shipyards utilizes one of these offices. Workers can bring materials to be worked on to the enclosure and be near special equipment.

Why Go Ashore?

Heavy traffic on and off the ship can also be a headache. This year we have reduced brow traffic by the addition of two commonplace but important facilities. Vending machines dispensing hot soup, beef stew, and chili enable men to eat aboard the ship at noon, using the tables we set up near the machines for the men. Telephones aboard the ship also reduce brow traffic by enabling workers to make calls without leaving the ship. Coordination of procedures is also necessary to avoid duplication and red tape. IndMan Jax has control over these procedures. They have the responsibility for drawing up specifications and ordering equipment. All work requests flow out from this office. IndMan Jax also inspects all repair work and installations and initiates corrective action where needed.

Information control is essential to keep everyone informed. This year we have added a large status board that lists all of the jobs to be completed. The board, which takes up nearly an entire wall of one of the trailers, can give at a glance the exact status of any job. By looking at it a person can see if parts have been ordered, if they have been installed, and who is doing the work.

Coordination at Work

In the Saratoga trailer, there is a smaller board which gives a brief display of information. On this board is listed the number of workers aboard, the various coordinators, and a condensation of the larger status board.

The Saratoga trailer is the office of the ship coordinator, Lieutenant Commander Stelly. He is available to all of the contractors and IndMan Jax personnel to answer questions they might have concerning the ship. He is within easy reach of the work and can reach the other coordinators by the shipboard phone system or outside line. After working hours, his place is taken by a duty coordinator who is available for the rest of the night.

Every morning the ship’s department heads, Executive Officers and I are briefed by the off-going duty coordinator. He gives us the status of certain critical jobs and any information that may have come in during the night. On Thursday morning, representatives from all of the agencies involved get together for a conference. Here the week’s work is discussed and difficulties resolved.

Fire is a constant threat in the yard. A fire watch is posted near every welder to eliminate any chance of fire resulting from the welder’s torch. Continuing inspections to check on proper removal of trash reduce the possibility of fires. These inspections also assure that all safety and fire fighting equipment are in place and operational. Items such as safety nets in the trunks and handrails on ladders are checked for strength and proper installation.

Ask the Man Who Cares 

In this yard period a number of small changes have been made from previous years. But these small changes have produced big effects. Some very commonplace additions, such as the status boards, have saved many man-hours. And of course the most important result of our planning has been to accomplish nearly all of our work in Mayport. This year we are proving that it is possible to bring the shipyard to the ship. Has it been worthwhile? Ask any Saratoga sailor with a family in the Jacksonville area.