1918: The Introduction of a First-of-a-Kind U.S. Ship

March 14, 1918

The first seagoing American ship made out of concrete was introduced. This ship, a steamer called SS Faith, was launched from Redwood City, California. Concrete ships had been around since 1848, when one was built in France. In addition, the first ocean-worthy vessel of that type made her debut in Norway in 1917. SS Faith, however, was the first ship in the United States to meet both of those requirements. 

The need for this type of ship had grown all the more urgent after the United States entered World War I on the side of the Allied Powers. This was primarily because steel, which was customarily used for building ships, became scarce due to wartime rationing. It was in these crucial circumstances that Alan Macdonald and Victor Poss, under contract with the San Francisco Ship Building Company, designed and built SS Faith. 

SS Faith was used to transport cargo for trade until 1921. At that time, the ship was sold and scrapped as a breakwater to protect harbors against waves and similarly turbulent conditions. SS Faith ended up in Cuba for that purpose. 

While the manufacturing of concrete ships waned in the first couple of decades after World War I, these vessels enjoyed another revival when history repeated itself and steel became scarce during World War II. The era of large-scale concrete shipbuilding came to a close, once and for all, after that war. Quite a few recreational boats, however, continue to be created from concrete.

(The above public-domain photos of SS Faith were taken shortly after her launch.)

For more information on SS Faith, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Faith

Additional information on concrete ships is available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete_ship

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