Courtesy / South Portland Historical Society

South Portland played an important part in Maine’s history, as well as in world history, when it became a major shipbuilder of cargo ships during World War II. Shown here is the Todd-Bath Shipbuilding Corporation, also known as the East Yard, on Dec. 4, 1941. The world would change three days later when Japan bombed our Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, causing the United States to enter the war. South Portland had one shipyard already constructing Ocean ships for Great Britain and a second yard, the West Yard, constructing Liberty ships for the U.S.

At the peak of production, South Portland shipyards employed 30,000 people in round-the-clock shifts, producing 244 Liberty ships and 30 Ocean ships. These cargo ships carried vital materials, including weapons, ammunition and food, to the Allied troops overseas. The emergency shipbuilding effort in the United States played an important part in helping the Allies win the war.