This book tells the story of the development of the naval shipbuilding industry in the United States after World War I that built the fleet that won World War II. It also explains how naval shipbuilding is different than maritime shipbuilding. Merchant ships, in contrast to naval ships, are built to lower standards, and have far less technically complex systems. unlike warships, they don’t have to continue to operate after being the target of substantial amounts of explosives, nor do they have to carry defensive measures such as armor or radar, or offense of measures such as guns or airplanes. As a result, they lend themselves to assembly-line type construction. Naval ships, on the other hand require significantly more expertise, and importantly for the story, expertise that takes years or even decades to build up. As a result, it was critical to the ability to build a large fleet in World War II that the United States preserved its naval shipyards during peacetime, either by providing them with work in the form of continuing naval construction, or by funding major capital construction programs in order to keep a critical mass of civilian yards in business.
The book also spends a great deal of time explaining the difference between a private shipyard and a government-owned Navy yard, and explains the important role played in certain types of construction by Navy yards, which had expertise that private shipyards were not able to reproduce.
While some of the minutiae of yard management was not the most interesting subject in the world, it was overall an interesting book and illuminated the important relationship between the Navy and the shipyards the contracted construction of its warships to.