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The Yard

Book Review

 

Title:

The Yard

Author:

Michael S. Sanders

Publisher:

HarperCollins Publishers Inc., New York, NY

ISBN:

0-06-019246-1

Reviewed By:

Frank Fogg

Review Date:

June, 2003

Rating:

The Yard follows an Arleigh Burke  class guided missile destroyer from concept through launch and shows how they do it - build these large warships on the ways using methods perfected over  hundreds of years. You get to meet the people and see the places that get this  job done on time, on budget, and within specifications.

The Yard refers to the Bath Iron Works shipyard in Bath, Maine, one of the last shipbuilding yards in the United States. First incorporated in 1884, the yard has fabricated hundreds of ships through good times and bad. Between the two world wars it fell on hard times, but was purchased and retooled just in time for World War Two.

Today Bath builds one of the most complex and powerful fighting ships on the planet. Using a combination of old and new technologies, in a short time the yard transforms raw steel into a fighting ship, creating pre-assembled sections  that may stand as high as four decks. These are lifted into place with massive  cranes and assembled into the ship's structure. A number of tradesmen perform their specialties in organized harmony as welders and fitters piece together  the giant plates of steel that become the ship.

This book shows how all of the major assemblies are built and highlights the important personnel that build them. There are chapters that show welders, fitters, foremen and mechanics at work. They not only tell what each man does, but also  show a little about his personal life and how he came to work at Bath. You get  a sense of the pride they feel in building these large ships under sometimes hazardous conditions. One chapter talks about the town itself - the people that  come to live there and how they feel about the noise and activity that goes with building large ships.

This is a book that shows what goes into building a modern naval warship, while  highlighting an industry that has almost disappeared in the United States. The  personal glimpses the author provides of the men that build the ship and those  that will sail it sets this book apart.

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