Broadly speaking, this rehabilitation began with the passage of the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, which set up a definite na- tional maritime policy, established the Maritime Commission as an effective agency for the promotion of that policy, and opened the way to the inauguration of a long-range shipbuild- ing program aimed at modernizing and balancing our mer- chant fleet From the early days of the fighting in Europe, it was foreseen that the tonnage suffered by the . Considering the low ebb of American shipbuilding during the early thirties, and the vital part which the American ship- building industry was called upon to play in the successful pros- ecution of the war, it was fortunate that this industry was well on the way toward rehabilitation when we entered the conflict. Concentrations of German submarines appeared in the Western Adantic, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, and unescorted vessels mov- ing coastwise were sunk within o^^ttx^ our ibores. From the date of our open belligerency, however, they began to mount. There were two means to this end — reduction of the losses by improved defen- sive and offensive measures, and a colossal ship construction program. The exceedingly heavy losses during 1942, as during the preceding years, were the result of the inadequate protection afforded merchant shipping. The winning of the war required not only that losses be offset by new construction, but that they be exceeded by a substantial margin in order that sufficient shipping eventually might be available to the United Nations to enable them to launch the heavy offensives which were necessary to the defeat of the Axis.
, 56 Army Ports of Embarkation 59 The Ocean-Going Fleet 64 Maximum Employment of Ships 69 y Siftall fioats 72 SECTION IV. Allied shipping losses during World War I §were about 18,000,000 DWT. |)reaks down as follows : p' Nontanker DWT Tanker DWT Total DWT Sept.1939-Dec.'41. Thus, ■ |2 percent of the United Nations' tonnage loss during the pe- ' ^iod 1942-44 was attributable to U-boats, 9 percent to aircraft, ' ^ percent to surface raiders, 5 percent to other enemy action, (3 ' 3 _ j Digitia Mlby GOog IC D a. Losses from marine cas- ualties were rdatively high because of the unususd hazards of operating in convoys at sea and in congested harbors, and the necessity of navigating without lights. Early in 1941 the Maritime Commis- sion ordered 200 more cargo carriers. Accordingly, in the fall of 1940 the British placed orders with American ship- yards for 60 freighters. The program of the United States in World War I called for the instruction of 3,270 vessds of 18,400,000 deadweight tons, l)ut only a small part of that program was completed prior to the conclusion of hostilities, and the deliveries during the 5 years following April 1917 totaled only 2,311 vessels of 13,627,000 deadweight tons. During the 5-year period 1941-45, a total of 5,280 ocean-going vessels, aggregating over 54,000,- 000 deadweight tons, was delivered. This total figure for American merchant ship deliveries breaks down into annual figures as follows: Year 1941 ...... British Empire shipyards during this period delivered less than 11,000,000 deadweight tons.
During the same period the combined output of the shipyards of the United Kingdom and the United States, which were almost the sole source of new merchant shipping for the .\llies, was only 5,000,000 deadweight tons.