World-class ship production in the United States will be achieved by shipyards using production planning based on the strengths of their workforce and technology base. While a large portion of technical literature deals with ship production technology, there is a growing awareness that the employee empowerment can realize substantial savings in labor hours and material usage. In 1942 the demands for military landing craft resulted in Higgins Industries opening two new boat building plants in New Orleans. By the cessation of hostilities in 1945, over two thousand 50–56 ft LCM landing craft and one hundred 180 ft FS cargo ships were delivered. The LCM and FS ship production were maintained in the face of wartime shortages in propulsion engines, steel, and a skilled workforce. This paper describes Higgins Industries' production planning and how what is now termed employee empowerment was utilized to achieve reduction in manhours and material usage. This ship production achievement 50 years ago provides many lessons in utilizing the workforce intelligence with a positive corporate culture to achieve world-class shipbuilding in the United States

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