The second guided missile warship ever built on the Great Lakes ( USS Lynde McCormick DDG 8 ) ( Defoe Shipbuilding Co., Bay City, Michigan ) heads toward the Atlantic Ocean via the recently completed St. Lawrence Seaway.
Harry Defoe, (primary owner of the Defoe Shipbuilding Company), conceived of a unique roll-over process of hull assembly, which was credited with reducing production costs sharply by conserving space, eliminating scaffolding and cutting labor expense.
Construction of the hulls DDGs started upside down on a flat deck on which bulkheads are placed. Hull plates, set by overhead crane, lay in position by their own weight and permitted downhand welding which was half the cost of traditional overhead welding. Labor man hours was cut to one-third or one-fourth of the total man hours needed by previous conventional methods.
When the hull was completed, two 50-foot eccentric steel wheels were clamped into position. Actual roll over, controlled by a single locomotive crane, requires but five minutes and the work of only a dozen men. The two huge wheels rolled on tracks to upright the hull thereby setting it in position for other work needed before launching the ship by sliding it sideways into an adjoining slip.
When a DDG was delivered, it would have from twenty to thirty Navy sailors aboard with her who would make the trip from Bay City to Boston and who would then be assigned to the DDG upon its commissioning.
Leaving the yard was always a thrill. The DDG would leave the slip and go into Saginaw River with a few blasts of the horn. The proud yard workers would wave good-bye to the ship they on which had labored and crafted.
After a short amount of time, the DDG would be in Saginaw Bay and then out into Lake Huron. The DDG would leave Lake Huron and go through Lake Erie and then through Lake Ontario and the recently completed St. Lawrence Seaway on her way to Boston. The trip included a company for the shake down exercise of the ship, running at full speed forward and then reverse, rapid turns and all those different maneuvers to make sure everything was running right. The trip from Bay City to Boston via the Great Lakes is about 1,500 miles. The ship probably averaged about 15 knots an hour and the trip to Boston took about 4 or 5 days.