Friday, April 4, 2014

Dooley's coffin nails - building ships for WWII in Broward County

Fort Lauderdale beach today

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By Jane Feehan

Thousands of military trained in South Florida in preparation for World War II, but training was only one aspect of Broward County’s contribution to the war effort. On Labor Day, Sept. 7, 1942 Dooley’s Basin and Dry Dock (later Broward Marine) launched three war craft, the largest mass launching of such vessels in Florida at the time. 

A 110-foot sub chaser (P-710) and two 104-foot rescue craft (P-150) slid into the New River in Dania. The sub chaser was to be outfitted with guns and armaments and the rescue boats with hospital facilities before deployment.

The boats were christened with bottles of wine by an employee and the wives of two other employees—one of whom had four sons serving in the war. In accord with the federal War Production Board's wishes, there was no other observance of Labor Day. It was back to work for the company’s 300 plus employees.

The company’s president, Paul Dooley, said the vessels were another nail in the coffin of the enemy; he hoped there would be many more. By war’s end another sub chaser and 95 other rescue boats were produced by Dooley’s shipyard. The nation built 124,000 ships of all types during World War II. (America’s ramped-up production of military weapons and aircraft during World War II was remarkable. According to historian Stephen E. Ambrose, the U.S. produced 800 military airplanes in 1939. By 1942, it was producing 4,000 a month; at the end of 1943, the monthly count was up to 8,000.)

Dooley’s Basin and Dry Dock was recognized by the American Legion for its hiring of vets after the war. However, business did not fare well for long. Military contracts came to an end and Dooley’s government contract for pre-fabricated houses fell through in 1945. More than half its employees were laid off. The company was purchased in 1948 by Frank Denison and was then known as Broward Marine, once the county’s largest employer. Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved. Jane Feehan.

Miami News, Sept. 7, 1942
Miami News, Feb. 13, 1945
Miami News, Sept. 19,1945
Ambrose, Stephen E. D-Day June 6, 1945. New York: Simon & Schuster (1994)

Tags: Broward County history, Broward County in World War II, Broward County shipbuilding in WWII, Broward County in the 1940s, Fort Lauderdale historian, Miami historian

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