Kaiser Shipyards

Kaiser Shipyards Exhibit Opens at Pearson Air Museum

The National Park Service at Fort Vancouver, the City of Vancouver, and the Clark County Historical Museum announce the opening of a free new exhibit about the extraordinary history of Vancouver’s Kaiser Shipyard. The exhibit will open at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 28, at Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E. 5th St. in Vancouver, in the Fort Vancouver Historic Reserve.

The exhibit will include historic objects—archaeological artifacts recovered from the site, which workers used on a daily basis—as well as reproductions of historic photos and documents in the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site museum collection. A model of the USS Gambier Bay, one of the “baby flat tops” built in the Vancouver Yard (and the only U.S. Navy carrier sunk by enemy surface vessels) will also be on display.

Also premiering is a 13-minute-long documentary produced by Clark/Vancouver Television, which chronicles the history and legacy of the shipyards through interviews with former shipyard workers and local historians, along with photographs and film archives. The video will be shown in the Tex Rankin Theater at Pearson Air Museum, and will be available for viewing on request in the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center.

Kaiser Shipyards Exhibit Opens at Pearson Air Museum

The National Park Service at Fort Vancouver, the City of Vancouver, and the Clark County Historical Museum announce the opening of a free new exhibit about the extraordinary history of Vancouver’s Kaiser Shipyard. The exhibit will open at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 28, at Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E. 5th St. in Vancouver, in the Fort Vancouver Historic Reserve.

The exhibit will include historic objects—archaeological artifacts recovered from the site, which workers used on a daily basis—as well as reproductions of historic photos and documents in the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site museum collection. A model of the USS Gambier Bay, one of the “baby flat tops” built in the Vancouver Yard (and the only U.S. Navy carrier sunk by enemy surface vessels) will also be on display.

Also premiering is a 13-minute-long documentary produced by Clark/Vancouver Television, which chronicles the history and legacy of the shipyards through interviews with former shipyard workers and local historians, along with photographs and film archives. The video will be shown in the Tex Rankin Theater at Pearson Air Museum, and will be available for viewing on request in the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center.

About the shipyards:

When the United States entered World War II, the Allies were in need of ships…fast! The US Maritime Commission hired several contractors to construct the ships needed to win the war. Among them was Henry J. Kaiser, a bold American entrepreneur. That spring, he built three yards in the Portland-Vancouver area.

At the 400-acre Vancouver Yard on the Columbia River waterfront, construction moved at a rapid pace, operating around the clock and setting production records. By war’s end, the Vancouver Yard had launched 10 Liberty Ships, 30 landing craft, 50 escort carriers, 31 attack transports, 12 C-4 troopships, and 8 C-4 cargo vessels.

The shipyards offered new employment opportunities to those in the local area, many of whom had never worked before, and recruited people from other parts of the United States. Kaiser’s endeavor transformed Vancouver almost overnight. The city’s population tripled and diversified, new neighborhoods and support services were built to meet their needs, and new technologies revolutionized local businesses.