Sunday, March 25, 2018
N.C.'s Liberty Armada-- Part 7: Three Shifts, Women and U-boats
The shipyard swarmed with workers 24 hours a day working in three shifts. Women were allowed just to work the first two shifts, never the graveyard shift or below decks to avoid compromising situations. The company provided on-site day care for their young children. But women with no children are more valued as workers.
At night, the shipyard is illuminated by nearly 2,000 floodlights. Easier for the people to work, but there was a danger.
Captains of ships passing by offshore complained that on cloudy nights with no moon, they were silhouetted against this bright light and perfect targets for the waiting U-boats. On the night of March 12, 1942, the tanker John D. Gill, bound for Philadelphia, was torpedoed near the mouth of the Cape Fear River by a German U-boat.
Future sea trials for newly commissioned vessels were conducted entirely in the river because of the German U-boat threat.