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USS BEGOR (APD-127)


BEGOR'S CONSTRUCTION

Most of us know that USS Begor was constructed by the Defoe Shipbuilding Company in Bay City, Michigan, but are you aware of the special construction methods the company used to build your home-away-from-home, or how the company was able to deliver the Gray Ghost of the Korean Coast to the Navy in New Orleans?

Well, sit back in your easy chair and have that second cup of coffee while I enlighten you.

Sometime in early 1943, Defoe received a Navy contract to construct 28 steam turbine powered destroyer escorts. After building 17 as DEís (destroyer escorts), the Navy was awash with DEís owing to the reduced submarine threat in the Atlantic. The contract was modified and Defoe was ordered to build the last eleven DEís as APDís (high speed transports, used in amphibious warfare and transporting of reconnaissance parties and demolition teams). Begor was originally intended to be DE-711, but now she would be somewhat modified and finished out as APD-127.

Defoe had developed a unique method of constructing their ships by this time and Begor was one of the first to be built in the upside-down method. She was built upside-down on a cradle. The deck was laid and frames and bulkheads were erected upside down. According to Defoe, this eliminated over 90% of the overhead welding, speeding the process and vastly improving the quality.

This production sequence eliminated virtually all of the conventional shipís scaffolding, saving more time. While Begor was upside down, all machinery that normally hangs was installed, as it merely drops into position.

When the hull and upside down work were completed, two semi-circular steel wheels were clamped to the hull and the deck cradle removed. The c-shaped steel wheels rested on two heavy parallel steel tracks. Cables were thrown around the hull in opposite directions and led to a steam locomotive crane. By pulling on one cable and paying out on the other, the vessel was rolled on the two wheels into an upright position, the process taking no more than 2-3 minutes. Begor was then launched side-ways as opposed to stern first in traditional launchings. At this point Defoe was launching hulls faster than the Navy could deliver power plants.

When Begor was completed, the next task was its delivery to the Navy in New Orleans. You would think all they had to do was put a crew on board, crank it up and head for New Orleans. It didnít happen that way. There was a small skeleton crew on board.

Floats were attached to both sides of Begor, raising her a few feet to allow clearance from the shallow water bottoms. She was then towed from Lake Michigan to Chicago, then via the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to the Illinois River and the Mississippi River down to New Orleans, where the Begor plank-owners boarded, commissioned her and began sea trials. The rest is history, and we are proud to have been part of it!

Page Last Updated: 07/16/09


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