British Columbia - Periods - World War II

Burrard Shipyards

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Burrard Dry Dock, now known as Burrard Shipyards, was a Canadian shipbuilding company located in North Vancouver, British Columbia. During World War II, the shipyard built a number of vessels for the British and Canadian navies, including corvettes, minesweepers, and landing craft. The shipyard also repaired and refitted a number of ships for the allied forces. The shipyard's production and repair work during the war was a significant contributor to the war effort and the local economy.

During World War II, the development and production of warships underwent significant changes and advancements. One of the major changes was the shift from building battleships to building smaller, more agile vessels such as destroyers and submarines. This was driven by the need for faster, more mobile ships that could better respond to the changing nature of naval warfare.

Another major development was the use of new technologies, such as radar and sonar, which greatly improved a ship's ability to detect and track enemy vessels. This led to the development of specialized ships, such as escort carriers and destroyer escorts, which were designed specifically for anti-submarine warfare.

The use of prefabrication techniques, where sections of the ships were built in separate facilities and then assembled at the shipyard, also became more common during the war. This allowed for faster construction and greater efficiency in the shipbuilding process.

Overall, the war greatly accelerated the development of warship building and led to the creation of new and more advanced ship designs.

During World War II, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) greatly expanded its fleet, and several shipyards across Canada built ships for the RCN. Burrard Dry Dock, now known as Burrard Shipyards, was one of the main shipbuilding facilities for the RCN. The exact number of ships built by the shipyard for the RCN during the war is not clear, but it built several types of vessels, including corvettes, minesweepers, and landing craft.

In total, the RCN commissioned over 400 ships during World War II, including corvettes, minesweepers, armed yachts, trawlers, and subchasers. Some of these ships were built in Canada, while others were purchased or obtained through lend-lease agreements with the United States and Great Britain.

The RCN's fleet expansion was significant, as it allowed the RCN to play a crucial role in the Battle of the Atlantic, protecting convoys of merchant ships from German submarines, and also providing naval gunfire support during the Normandy landings, and other operations.

Timeline

  • 1939: At the outbreak of war, the RCN had a small fleet of mostly aging ships.
  • 1940-1941: The RCN begins to expand its fleet, commissioning new ships such as corvettes and minesweepers, and obtaining others through lend-lease agreements with the United States and Great Britain.
  • 1942: The RCN's shipbuilding efforts are in full swing, with several shipyards across Canada building ships for the navy, including Burrard Dry Dock (later known as Burrard Shipyards).
  • 1943-1944: The RCN continues to expand its fleet, commissioning new ships and refitting and repairing existing ones. The RCN's ships are heavily involved in the Battle of the Atlantic, protecting convoys of merchant ships from German submarines.
  • 1945: The war in Europe ends in May. The RCN continues to build ships until the end of the war in the Pacific in August.
  • The RCN's fleet expansion during World War II was significant and allowed the RCN to play a crucial role in the Battle of the Atlantic, protecting convoys of merchant ships from German submarines, and also providing naval gunfire support during the Normandy landings, and other operations.

Culture & Politics

The shipbuilding industry had a significant impact on the city of North Vancouver during World War II. The Burrard Dry Dock shipyard, which was one of the main shipbuilding facilities in the area, employed a large number of workers, many of whom were immigrants and women. This led to a significant increase in population and economic activity in the city. The shipyard also helped to diversify the local economy, which had previously been heavily dependent on logging and fishing.

The shipbuilding industry also had a major impact on housing and infrastructure in the city. The rapid influx of workers led to a housing shortage and many people lived in overcrowded conditions or in temporary housing, such as bunkhouses. The city also had to expand and improve infrastructure such as roads, public transportation and public services to accommodate the increased population.

The war effort also led to the creation of new jobs and industries in the city, such as manufacturing and repair facilities that were supporting the shipyard's work.

Overall, the shipbuilding industry played a key role in the economic and social development of North Vancouver during World War II, and the impact of the war on the city was long-lasting and far-reaching.

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Reference: Article by (Staff Historian), 2023

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