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Decision in the AtlanticThe Allies and the Longest Campaign of the Second World War$
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Marcus Faulkner and Christopher M. Bell

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781949668001

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9781949668001.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM KENTUCKY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.kentucky.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The University Press of Kentucky, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in KSO for personal use.date: 27 September 2021

“Immobilized by Reason of Repair” and by the Choice “Between Lithgow and Hitler”

“Immobilized by Reason of Repair” and by the Choice “Between Lithgow and Hitler”

Class Conflict in Britain’s Wartime Merchant Shipping Repair Yards

Chapter:
(p.46) 3 “Immobilized by Reason of Repair” and by the Choice “Between Lithgow and Hitler”
Source:
Decision in the Atlantic
Author(s):

Kevin Smith

Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
DOI:10.5810/kentucky/9781949668001.003.0004

This chapter by Kevin Smith examines Britain's survival in the Second World War and how it depended upon maintaining its lines of maritime communications for overseas supplies. Obsession with anti-submarine warfare obscures examination of complementary British managerial efforts to maximize merchant shipping capacity – especially through the key task of rapid, thorough repair of damaged cargo vessels. An examination of the comparative cost to shipping capacity imposed by submarine attacks and by repair delays illustrates the need to integrate our analysis of the managerial and martial aspects of maritime warfare by suggesting that even after acknowledging the permanent loss of sunken ships, the much larger volume of ships immobilized by reason of repair imposed a comparable reduction in cargo capacity. Consequently, Britain's dependence upon American allocations of newly-built cargo vessels was exacerbated. One especially important impediment to repairing ships (and a legacy of the Great Depression) was bitter class conflict between shipyard workers and shipbuilders, especially the Admiralty Controller of Merchant Shipbuilding and Repair – as well as between that Controller and the Minister of Labour. This chapter suggests new avenues toward situating maritime warfare in a broader context.

Keywords:   Battle of the Atlantic, class conflict, maritime war, merchant shipping capacity, merchant shipping repair, Minister of Labour

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